Day 436

What would Business Ethics be without another in-class case study? Today, was it ethical for General Motors–a company that had deliberately turned its back on hybrid technology in favour of profitable SUVs–to ask the U.S. federal government for a bail-out when the SUV market crashed?

On to Sensory Evaluation. Last week we had covered white wines, so today it was the other side of the coin, red wines. We learned–much to my surprise–that an Ontario VQA red is almost always a blend of various grapes and even various vintages, even if only one grape variety and vintage is listed on the label; according to the wine industry rules, only 85% of the main grape variety and/or 85% of the listed vintage has to be what it says on the label. Huh.

Likewise, I always thought that decanting wines was just a snooty thing to do, but in the case of older wines, a quiet decanting serves to leave the bitter sediment in the bottle; in younger wines, vigourously pouring it into a wide-mouth pitcher and letting it sit for an hour oxidates the wine, enhancing its flavours.

We covered some of the main varieties of grapes, and the wines that are made from them. Then we poured out seven reds. Two of those were a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old Merlot from the same winery. It was interesting to see how age had softened the tannins and subtly changed the colour of the older wine.

Red wines

Seven reds and a variety of foods. It was a good day to be a student of beer.

Although I had thought of red wines as all very tannic and astringent, and only suitable to be served with red meats, we learned from our seven samples that red wine can cover a lot of territory, from light and fruity to bold and tannic to aged and delicate. Yes, the bigger, bolder, more tannic reds like Australian Shiraz and Italian Borolo paired well with roast beef. However, a lighter Cabernet Franc paired well with mushroom risotto, a dish that I would have thought was white wine territory. Likewise, pairing a tannic red wine with salmon results in an unpleasant metallic note, but the salmon actually matched very well with a less tannic, fruitier pinot noir. And the more alcoholic wines–the Shiraz (15.9%) and an Italian Amarone della Valpolicella (15.4%) really made the spices in an otherwise pedestrian barbecued rib really pop.

Here endeth the lesson on wines. Admittedly we only scratched the surface–wine students at the college spend an entire semester on white wines, and another semester on red wines–but it did make us brewmaster students a bit more aware of the potential versatility of wine, even if the tastes and component flavours cover a much narrower spectrum compared to the world of beer.

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