Wine Talk

Snooth User: Natalie Kronick

For the love of wine.

Posted by Natalie Kronick, Sep 14, 2009.

My wine thought of the day... and this might be a hard question to answer. Mostly because we may all really be winos at the end of the day:

If wine did not carry the alcohol content and threat of 'overdrinking', yet held the same characteristics of fruit and terroir and complexity, would you still drink it?

I've thought about this one a lot... want to know others' thoughts. Cheers!


Reply by dmcker, Sep 14, 2009.

Very hard to imagine how wine would taste without the acidic, preservative and other characteristics of the alcohol in it. I don't drink near-beer so don't know if an analogy between it and alcoholic beer is appropriate. Am also curious if the purported health benefits of the drinks would bear out in non-alcoholic versions.

But back to the question. If the drink could taste like a well made version of a Bordeaux chateau, or the product from a first-rate California winery, etc., etc., then yes I would drink it. I would most likely not want to pay the same price as I currently pay, and, frankly, would miss the buzz and how that buzz contributes in a social context. In short, I could enjoy such juice, but not as much.

Reply by GregT, Sep 14, 2009.

yes I would still drink it. If you taste freshly pressed juice, or juice that's been on the skins for a while and was just racked off, you sometimes like it better than wine. And in some cases, it's not going to make good wine anyway and is much better as the juice.

Of course, you wouldn't age it because then you'd have, well, wine. So you never get any of the additional complexity but I think juice is just fine. To the original question, IF it still had the complexity, that would be better. But since the complexity comes from the fermentation, oxidation, and aging, you can only get that in the hypothetical situation proposed.

As far as the health benefits, I thought the antioxidants at any rate were in the dark skins, just as they are in blueberries, black currants, etc. Other than those, I think that alcohol itself is supposed to confer some kind of benefit, although I find that notion rather suspect.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 14, 2009.

Sure I'd drink it, maybe mix it with a little vodka now and again but in all honesty when I'm sharing wine with friends I appreciate the alcohol for it's affects.

Reply by basilwino, Sep 15, 2009.

I would put Vodka, Gin or Rum in it and serve it up like a Grape-tini.

Reply by Philip James, Sep 15, 2009.

ouch, thats a fantastic, if brutal question!

I like the responses saying a dash of vodka would become a prerequisite. I'd still drink wine either way, but spicing it up would become an important part of the ritual.

Reply by emmalee777, Sep 15, 2009.

hmmm... I would still drink it as I enjoy the taste. However, I truly appreciate the kick that wine gives with the alcohol & wouldn't like to think of it without that!

Reply by dmcker, Sep 15, 2009.

GregT, yes I've been skeptical, too, about some of the supposed health-related benefits of alcohol. However, the studies do continue to trickle through, and beyond the benefits of wine we hear about those from beer, and even harder stuff. It's not always easy to tell who sponsors these studies, or their detailed methodology, since most of what I've seen is from the popular press and I haven't made a concerted effort to track things down to the originating journals in the so-called scientific press.

I have wondered, though, from my own personal experience about whether there might not be something to it. Japanese live perhaps the longest of any nation on earth, according to the statistics we're fed, yet it's definitely not because their mainstream medical system, emergency medical care, exercise-related mores and behaviors, or several other customs and practices are better than those in other countries.

Nearly two thousand years ago, a Chinese explorer/ambassador to one of the largest kingdoms in Japan at the time (on the island that nowadays is called Kyushu), reported back to the emperor of China that Japan had paid tribute and was thus now a colony (actually, all that had happened was that the queen and her court had merely returned gifts in response to gifts from the Chinese side). He also reported three distinctive characteristics and behaviors of the Japanese. One was that they were shorter in stature than other peoples he'd encountered in East Asia, another was that they put a lot of effort into fashion and makeup, and the third was that they drank a lot of alcohol. So much has changed over the last two millenia, but it seems several things have stayed the same.

I've often wondered if it wasn't the Sake drinking tradition in Japan, perhaps together with the other stress-relieving practice of Japanese-style baths, that has helped contribute to Japanese longevity.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 15, 2009.

Sorry, but I clicked 'approve' before remembering to add that I am, of course, talking about drinking in moderation. Perhaps one of the reasons it's easy to be skeptical about claims for benefits from alcohol consumption is because we've all seen or otherwise know of so many horror stories that ensue from excessive drinking...

Reply by Eric Guido, Sep 15, 2009.

The alcohol in the wine accentuates the flavors of the food. Same reason tomato sauces with a little wine added in will taste more like Tomato than sauces without it. It chemically reacts with our foods. I know I would never pure alcohol free wine into my Risotto.

Otherwise, the occasional buzz is nice.

I like wine for what it is, not just the favor.

Reply by Nicki Gig, Sep 16, 2009.

If it holds the same complexity, culture behind it etc, yes I would still drink it. Of course everyone likes a good buzz from wine too (and your lying if you say you don't) - alcohol is a key component... Wine is also about how it brings people together, friends, families, making memories... would that still happen?

Reply by dmcker, Sep 16, 2009.

Here's a list of links concerning red wine and health that I just ran across. I haven't clicked on many of them yet, but there's certainly plenty to read there from a variety of journals.

Reply by GregT, Sep 16, 2009.

Interesting comments about the Japanese from the Chinese writer. I was listening to the radio today and an economist was talking about Japan and said that the 40,000 people over 100 are a sign of what kind of catastrophe Japan is facing as its population ages. Meantime I was thinking how cool it was that there were so many people so old and apparently healthy.

Reply by Cheese and Grapes, Sep 16, 2009.

Very good question. Honestly I don't think I would. I like beer, but I'd never buy O'douls for the taste. So I guess I wouldn't drink wine either without the buzz it offers. I enjoy the taste AND the buzz.

Reply by Natalie Kronick, Sep 16, 2009.

Obviously, I've thought a lot about this one, and it wasn't an easy question to pose. At times I really wish it were non-alcoholic because the flavor can be so amazing, sensual and physically enhancing that it's hard to put down that 'one too many' glass. But on the other hand, the occasional buzz is quite nice. NO Vodka Gregory! Shame! That's to be enjoyed on its own.....

Anyhow, as for the food enhancements, if that did not still exist without alcohol, then I'd say no way. I'd find something else. Wine is to food as calculus is to physics.... virtually impossible and wrong to have one without the other. Yin and Yang... Mork and Mindy! Ok, that's all I have... thanks for the feedback guys!

Reply by Short75, Oct 20, 2009.

I would not want to drink it without the alcohol especially if the food enhancement didn't exist!

Reply by TL NJ, Oct 20, 2009.

For me its the complexity of the taste. If you are saying "hypothetically" I wouldn't lose any of the taste without alcohol - then I would absolutely do it. I cant think of how many times I've had to restrain myself from drinking good wine strictly because of the alcohol - (e.g., i am driving, or getting too buzzed because I havent had enough food, acid reflux, etc).

As far as food enhancement is concerned, for me, I dont think its the alcohol per se that enhances the flavor of food. I know when cooking with wine, i feel it is important to actually "burn" the alcohol out of it before adding more layers. Even Risotto - I only use the alcohol to "open up" the rice, I still burn it all out before adding stock.

I always felt it was the tannins of the reds that go so well with meat, and "citrus" of the whites with fish - not the alcohol - but this is just my opinion - I could be technically wrong about this. I just cant think of many foods that I would enjoy drinking scotch, vodka, whiskey or gin with - so I dont think its the alcohol in wine, or beer at that matter, that does it for me with food pairing.

Reply by Hexley, Oct 20, 2009.

If wine without alcohol, by some strange means, tasted absolutely the same as real wine, and wine WITH alcohol somehow no longer existed, I might. Obviously there is no way to do this, however. Has anyone ever tasted that dealcoholized wine? I tasted it once out of curiosity, and it tasted...well, disgusting. (And heavens no I didn't buy it.)

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