Day 443

In Business Ethics, it is debate time. Each of us has been randomly assigned to support one side or the other of an ethical dilemma. The resolution I will support is that it is ethical for celebrities to endorse products that they do not use or even like.

Luckily my debate is not for another two weeks, so I have time to to scratch my head and think up some arguments. Suggestions are welcome. Is it unethical to ask you for ideas?

In Sensory Evaluation, we covered white wines two weeks ago and red wines last week, so it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we would be tasting sparkling wines today. As you probably know, “champagne” legally only refers to sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France. Everything else is a sparkling wine (or a “sparkler”), and is probably way cheaper than champagne. In France, a sparkler made outside of Champagne is often called Crémant. In Spain it is Cava, and Italians make Prosecco. Here in Canada, we just say sparkling wine. (Technically, here in Canada we say “sparkling wine, eh?”)

The bubbles are made by adding yeast and sugar to still wine, setting off a secondary fermentation that produces carbon dioxide. You can take the traditional route–the Methode Champenoise–by adding yeast and sugar to each individual bottle. Or you can use the newer charmat method: add the yeast and sugar to a whole tank of wine and then bottle the result. Bottle fermentation produces a yeastier, toastier tasting wine, from the contact with the dead yeast cells. (Another difference from beer: we call that taste “autolysis”, and try to avoid it.) Tank fermentation produces a fruitier taste and aroma.

(In Champagne, you must use the Methode Champenoise to make champagne. In Italy, you must use the charmat method to make Prosecco. Huh.)

Sparkling wines

Seven varieties of sparkling wine, including champagne (far left) and sparkling ice wine (far right).

Another differentiation is dryness. Curiously, “dry” means it is actually sweet, not dry. Even “extra dry” isn’t dry.  “Brut” doesn’t have the word “dry” in it, but it means dry. I have no idea why “dry” doesn’t mean dry. One of those weird French things, I guess.

As you may have guessed, the theory was followed by a tasting of seven types of sparkling wines, including a sparkling ice wine from Peller Estates of the Niagara region. Oh, and food: oysters, olives, French toast, and potato chips.

An odd mix of flavours, but I did not leave the classroom hungry.

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