The Time Is “Ripe” For Wine Harvest Season!
Merry Monday salutations, fellow winos! If you live somewhere in North America, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what time of the year this is. Yup, yup – it’s the wine harvest season and the best time to pack that suitcase and tour the wine countries.
In the Northern Hemisphere, grape harvest season is usually from August to October. These are the perfect months to schedule a relaxing holiday to wine country because: one, the weather is a little cooler; two, the grapes are ripe; and three, everywhere is bustling with activity. Note that the wine harvest season takes place for about 2 months each year. This is owing to wine grapes ripening at various rates. Here’s a helpful season chart to serve as your guide, courtesy of the Winefolly:
Getting ahead of the game: knowing when to harvest!
Wine growers are, of course, the best people who can tell when the wine grapes are literally ripe for the picking. Years and years of experience coupled with passion for wine have made them so familiar with the taste of ripeness that they can walk down a row tasting grapes and know intuitively when to pick. But of course, there are also lots of scientific studies to back up the “timing” theories for wine harvest. For the most part, there are two factors that are taken into consideration when determining the right time to harvest: the sweetness level of the grapes and the so-called “physiological ripeness.”
Let’s talk about sweetness level first. It should be remembered that wine grapes are a whole lot sweeter than table grapes. What’s the significance does this distinction have? Actually, the sweetness level of the grapes determines the resulting alcohol level. Sweetness comes from sucrose in grapes and is measured in Brix. One of the most common measuring tools for Brix is a hydrometer. So what happens is this: the vineyard managers will check every week down to the time of harvest so that they can harvest each part of their vineyard at the right moment. There are times when they even need to check on a daily basis. “In a poor vintage, rains cause grapes to swell and ruin the careful balance of sweetness and acidity.”
The second factor is the physiological ripeness of the grapes. Physiological ripeness would refer to the other parts of the grape (the seeds, skin and stems) that are also ripe. When they ripen, you will notice that the seeds will taste less bitter. The colors also change from green to yellowish hues. It is this change that makes the resulting wine tannin taste sweeter. Tannin is known to affect a wine’s finish or aftertaste.
So go on, pack that suitcase, and head straight to wine country – the time is indeed “ripe” for the true-blue wino! ^_^
WCI Inspirations: Tips For Hosting Your Wine Tasting Parties
February 1st, 2017
2017 has barely started but we’re pretty sure that the wine tasting parties are already in full swing. Have you held your first one yet? Whether you have or you’re about to, today’s WCI Inspirations will certainly throw some useful tips your way. Check out some of these fun ways to plan your wine tasting parties and make your get-togethers, whether formal or not, a lot more memorable:
Set the theme for your party…
It’s only natural that the first step in planning a wine tasting party is determining the kind of event you want to host. If it’s your very first time, go the simple route and host a “stand-alone tasting.” This is one that will allow your guests to focus exclusively on what they are drinking and not fill up on or get too distracted by food. In other words, you can focus more on the wine supplies and a bit less on the food. That should cut a significant amount of preparation time. On the other hand, you can also choose to combine a tasting with a dinner, cocktail party, or other gathering. For first-timers, we suggest serving a light dinner followed by the wine tasting.
Prep your party space…
This would largely depend on the amount of people you have invited. But it would be safe to say that you should hold it at the largest room in your home to allow space for your guests to mingle. The dining room is ideal, but if the living room is larger, that can work as well. If you decide to hold it outdoors like the patio or garden, you have to really ascertain the weather conditions on the day of your tasting party. Or, as a precaution, set up necessary protection from the elements such as a dome tent or cabana. If you have a nice, covered patio, then do take advantage of that. Plan your decor ahead to time so you can customize them without spending a ton of $$$. Wrapping some personalized mementos for your guests is a gesture that will really set the mood for your party. Small wine-themed gifts such as wine charms, stationery, and bottle tags are some smart options.
Do not forget the “essentials”…
If it’s your first time to host a wine tasting party, there are a few “essentials” that you should have ready:
- A water pitcher and glasses filled with ice water to help cleanse the guests’ palate after each tasting
- A large bucket or bowl in your tasting area for guests to dump extra wine after each tasting round
- Ice bucket if white or sparkling wine selections are on your tasting menu
And lastly – prepare an ice-breaker before the actual tasting party starts! We’ll be sharing some wine tasting party ice-breakers with you guys on the next blog or so, so stay tuned. ^_^