About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wine Diamonds

Tartaric acid, the most common and distinctive wine acid which is a particularly good preservative. A naturally occurring acid found in grapes (and almost nowhere else) and the most important acid in wine. A good level of acidity is essential for balance, the refreshing taste of crisp whites, and ageing potential in all wines.
Tartaric acid may be most immediately recognizable to wine drinkers as the source of 'wine diamonds', (harmless crystals) the small potassium bitartrate crystals that sometimes form spontaneously on the bottom of the cork, or fall to the bottom on the bottle.
These 'tartrates' are harmless, despite sometimes being mistaken for broken glass, and are prevented in many wines through cold stabilization.


However, tartaric acid plays an important role chemically; lowering the pH of fermenting 'must' to a level where many undesirable spoilage bacteria cannot live, and acting as a preservative after fermentation. With this the wine industry regards a tartrate (wine diamonds) dropout more of a sign of quality than a problem or an issue.
Commercial wineries cold stabilize their wines to avoid tartrate dropouts. Cold stabilizing is the process of dropping the temperature of the wine, after fermentation, to close to freezing for 3-4 days. This will cause the crystals to separate from the wine and stick to the sides of the holding vessel. When the wine is drained from the vessels, the tartrates are left behind. Most premium wines are cold stabilized in an attempt to minimize tartrate dropout.

So in summary - Tartaric acid (wine diamonds) is a harmless occurrence, and if swallowed will cause no ill effect, (possibly a slight gritty taste on the tongue) and these 'wine diamonds' do not subtract or add any negative characters or flavours to a wine, as they are naturally occurring in grapes, that are an important part of the winemaking process.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wine and Cheese

Probably more miss-leading information has been written on the subject of matching wine with ‘cheese’ than on any other aspect of wine enjoyment. In the past without informed knowledge a sensible ‘rule’ of thumb was to decide for yourself what suited your taste-buds - but your own, personal taste does not always match with others and in many occasions the marriage between a cheese selection and a favourite wine was endured rather than enjoyed.

That said - as you gain experience and learn more about wine, you will think of it not just in terms of flavour, but also in other terms such as weight, power, aroma and length. One of the keys to choosing a wine to suit a particular cheese is to take a moment to consider these qualities in relation to the cheese and then try to find a style of wine with qualities to match or complement. Successful wine and cheese matching should be based on similarities rather than contrasts. Match the weight of the wine to the character and intensity of the cheese.

Guidelines - conventional combinations:
Cheese - there are many good cheese and wine matches - mature cheddar and mature red wine, port with stilton, goats' cheese with Sauvignon Blanc, sweet wine with creamy cheeses are all classic pairings. Avoid reds that are very tannic and whites that are heavily oaked.
Another tip is to drink a wine from the same region as the cheese, as many wine styles have been influenced by the cuisine and cheese in that region.

Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio: - Chevre, Feta.
Pinot Gris, Viognier: - Mozzarella, Emmental.
Chardonnay (with oak): - Aged Brie, mature Camembert, Port-Salut.
Beaujolais or Valpolicella: - Mature Brie, Cheshire, Edam, Emmental, Gouda, Gruyere.
New Zealand Pinot Noir, Cru Beaujolais, Merlot: - Raw Milk Aged Brie, ripe Munster.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet-Franc, Syrah / Shiraz, Barolo, Reserve Rioja, Amarone, Chianti DOCG, Malbec, GSM's: - Parmigiano Reggiano, aged Gouda, aged Cheddar, Harvarti and Swiss-styles.
Sauternes or Barsac, Tokay, Dessert wines and Ports: - Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton.


Just to name and match a few - enjoy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

GSM blends

Until recently - to over 3 billion people across more than 212 countries, GSM meant - (Global System for Mobile communications) - the mobile standard for mobile phones.
But thanks to South Australia - GSM now means an exciting glass of red wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with food, in its youth and after time in the bottle.
Too many wine enthusiasts, GSM's are described as a combination of all the best things in red wine, all mixed into one bottle in small approachable portions. GSM wines are firm, well flavoured, coloured and with soft tannins on the finish. They go well with a variety of cuisine; tapas, antipasto platters, pizza, pasta, barbeques, but are certainly not out of place with the best cuts of meat.


While the predominant grape Grenache has a long history, it is only over the past decade or so that the variety has received the recognition that it deserves. While it is regarded as a classic variety by many, it is an 'alternative varietal' in places like Australia; not least because few wine drinkers know much about it.
This grape variety is widely planted in South Australia, particularly in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. It is a versatile variety which can be used as a straight varietal wine, it makes very good Rose and is used as blending material, particularly with Shiraz and Mourvedre (also known as Mataro). In fact the so called GSM blends are becoming a signature Barossa/ McLaren Vale style, challenging the dominance of straight Shiraz wines.

In Spain it is known as Garnacha, and is grown extensively throughout the North and East of the country as dry grown bush vines. In France this variety is grown in the Southern Rhone region as well as in Roussillon. In the Rhone it is a key ingredient of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines. In fact Grenache is a principal variety in all of the major Appellations in the Southern Rhone. Grenache is also the major variety in Tavel Rose. Keep a look out for GSM blends - and enjoy them all year round.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Healthy Wines

The medical profession has recognized the healthful and nutritional properties of wine for thousands of years. Hippocrates recommended specific wines to purge fever, disinfect and dress wounds, and for nutritional supplements, around 450 BC. Most of the pathogens that threaten humans are inhibited or killed off by the acids and alcohol in wine. Because of this, wine was considered to be a safer drink than water up until the 18th century.
Wine is a mild natural tranquilizer, serving to reduce anxiety. As part of a normal healthy diet, wine provides the body with energy, substances that aid digestion, and with small amounts of minerals and vitamins.


Moderate consumption of red wine on a regular basis may be a preventative against coronary disease and some forms of cancer. The chemical components thought to be responsible are catechins, related to tannins. Catechins are believed to function as anti-oxidants, preventing molecules known as 'free-radicals' from doing cellular damage.
There are also compounds in red grapes called resveratrol. Clinical evidence and laboratory studies have shown these may boost the immune system, block cancer formation, and possibly protect against heart disease and even prolong life.
In 2004 - American Journal of Physiology, indicates that resveratrol also inhibits formation of a protein that produces a condition called cardio fibrosis, which reduces the heart's pumping efficiency when it is needed most, at times of stress. More evidence suggests that wine dilates the small blood vessels and helps to prevent angina and clotting. The alcohol in wine additionally helps balance cholesterol towards the good.

Research is ongoing and it is a mistake for anyone to radically change their wine consumption. Drinking wine in moderation with a meal is recommended, plus in conjunction with a well balanced diet, with water and good exercise. Some people are very sensitive to wine, so please consult with your doctor to ensure you have no symptoms that could cause negative effects.