Good wine deserves good glass. Crystal is fine but it can interfere with your perception and appreciation of the colour of the wine. I prefer clean, clear and large glasses. Clean glasses are essential because there is almost nothing worse than being offered wine in a glass which reeks of washing-up liquid.
Nor is it pleasing to be given wine in a small glass. This is not just a matter of greed, but because wine needs to breathe and you must be able to appreciate the bouquet given off. A large glass should be used and only half-filled, so there is space between the surface of the wine and the rim of the glass, where the aromas can gather.
Indeed, it is difficult to argue with the suggestion that using top-quality ingredients helps when transforming grapes into red wine or good wine. White wine can be made from both white and black grapes. Crushing breaks the skins, after which de-staking takes place. Gentle pressing is favoured and skins are removed. Fermentation traditionally happends in oak barrels, although today, when minimal change is required, most white wines will ferment in stainless steel vats, Maturation in oak barrels can add another dimension and flavour profile to a good wine.
Red wine must be made from black grapes. This time the juice is fermented on the skins for better colour extraction. The juice, which runs freely after fermentation, is of the highest quality. The remaining pomace, or skins, are further crushed to release any more juice, which is generally used in blending for the best red wine.
Maturation can be controlled on oak barrels. The filtration of red wine may be minimal, if at all. Most fruity wines made to be consumed young will have little further maturation or development in the bottle. Some of the world's great classics however, can evolve slowly, to reach a plateau of maturity and amazing levels of complexity.
Oak barrels are used by a winemaker to impart complementary flavours and aromas to a wine. Barrels are toasted at various levels from light to medium to heavy, and will be selected to suit o particular grape variety or style of wine. Barrels are a convenient container in which to store a wine, as the subtle exchanges with oxygen, moisture ans alcohol help the wine to evolpe from the youthul 'green' to more complex and mature flavours.
Many different types of oak are used in the winemaking process, with white oak being the most common. French, Hungarian, and North American oak are the best-known species used, with each one having slightly different attribures. Just as vines and grapes are distinctly individual when groun under differnet conditions or areas, so are oak trees.
The ancient walled town of Sainte-Foy-La-Grande was founded in 1255 by Alphonse de Poitiers, a brother of Saint Louis, to protea its inhabitants from frequent invasions by the English. Though Sainte-Foy-La-Grande has never produced a drop of wine, it has given its name to this appellation. The town has played a role in the wine trade thanks to its location next to the Dordogne river, which has allowed the transport of many types of goods including wine from the hinterland.
As this appellation requires specific grape varieties and stricter production conditions than those of the Bordeaux AOC, most of the region’s growers prefer to use the Bordeaux appellation.