Recently Bruce Jack was invited to a live 30 minute Facebook chat with the Edgar’s Club where members could ask him about wine. We thought our readers would enjoy these questions and answers too:
Q: I’m looking at two wines, one costs R200, the other R40. Why would I buy the more expensive wine?
Q: I’m a huge fan of bubbles. I’ve always wondered how long I can keep an open bottle of MCC or champagne in the fridge?
A: The French will tell you to drink your Champagne young. The English prefer it aged. It’s all about personal preference. Once opened, I can’t think of anything in life that should stop you finishing the bottle.
Q: What does it mean when the cork of a red bottle of wine has wine creeping up the sides? Is the wine off?
A: Great question. Cork is a natural product and is naturally wider than the width of the bottle neck, but is has to be squeezed in there by the bottling machine. Sometimes as it is expanding back to its original shape and the bottle is placed on its side, wine can creep up the side of the cork. This does not mean the wine is off, it should be perfectly fine to drink.
Q: I love wine but I’ve always wondered: why does it make me sneeze?
A: One shouldn’t drink wine when you have a cold. Also, try not to sniff it up your nose.
On a serious note, because wine is a natural product it does contain things from nature which can be irritants. The most common are histamines which can cause a reaction like sneezing. My advice to people who experience this reaction is to try more expensive wines, made in smaller batches where the winemaking process is always more gentle.
Q: How do you make sure your products are organic?
A: Organic farming means that we do not use man-made, chemical pesticides, herbicides or compost. We have been farming vegetables, in particular onions, organically for last 18 years. Our vineyards, however, are not organically certified, but we adhere to as many of the organic principles as possible.
Q: What’s the story behind your wine?
A: I am involved in quite a few winemaking operations. In South Africa, I work for a large company which produces brands such as Flagstone and I also have my own wine farm in the Overberg Highlands called The Drift. I also make wines in Spain and France.
Flagstone is a well established premium wine that has won many awards over the years. We try to make wines that are excellent, world-beating quality. We source our grapes from all over the Western Cape. The Drift Farm wines are made from grapes only grown on our farm. In fact we specialize in single-vineyard, very exclusive wines.
Q: How are you able to keep so many winemaking projects going at one time?
A: I am very fortunate to work with a brilliant team. It is a thrilling and sometimes hectic career but it is also very rewarding, especially when great team work, passion and commitment result in the creation of great things.
Q: What do you feel characterizes a truly great wine? What do you look for when buying a bottle… or a case?
A: For me, great wine is all about authenticity. For starters, we are extremely fortunate in South Africa to have the most advanced wine traceability system. Unlike many other countries in the world, we have an organisation called SAWIS which monitors, audits and guarantees that what is put on the label is in the bottle. So you are guaranteed authenticity buying and drinking South African Wine. That’s a great place to start.
Q: Corks, screw tops or box?
A: They all have applications in the wine business. We (South Africa) are one of the biggest exporters of wine to Sweden, where most wine, even high quality wine is consumed as box wine. This is a convenient and eco-friendly packaging option, the only real negative is that the wine does not keep longer than 6-8 months.
Cork has been around for thousands of years and is a wonderful natural way to close a bottle – there is romance and theatre every time you pull a cork.
Screwcaps are technically the most advanced closure and that is why winemakers love them. They will keep wine fresher for longer and if you lose your corkscrew there is no panic!
Thank you very much for the opportunity to be able to interact will all of you. Please remember that alcohol is addictive and if abused can be very destructive. Always consume alcohol sensibly and you will be rewarded with a fantastic world that wine offers.
(image courtesy Edgars Club)