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, November 24, 2009


The phenols compounds in wine include a large group of several hundred chemical compounds, known as polyphenolics, which affect the colour, taste and mouthfeel of wine.
This large group can be broadly separated into two categories-flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids include anthocyanins and tannins which contribute to the colour, taste and mouthfeel of the wine. Non-flavonoids include stilbenes such as resveratrol and compounds derived from acids in wine like benzoic, caffeic and cinnamic acid. In wine grapes, phenolics are found widely in the skin, stems and seeds.


In winemaking, the process of maceration or 'skin contact' is used to increase the influence of phenols in wine. Phenolic acids are found in the pulp or juice of the wine and can be commonly found in white wines which usually doesn't go through a maceration period. The process of oak aging can also introduce phenolic compounds to wine, most notably in the form of vanillin which adds vanilla aroma to wines.
In red wine, up to 90% of the wine's phenolic content fall under the classification of flavonoids. These phenols, mainly derived from the stems, seeds and skins are often leeched out of the grape during the maceration period of winemaking. The amount of phenols leeched is known as extraction. In white wines the number of flavonoids is reduced due to less skin contact that they receive in winemaking. Like other flavonoids, the concentration of flavonols in the grape berries increases as they exposed to sunlight.
While phenolics comprise only 1% to 5% of wine constituents (majority water and alcohol), they are important because of their contribution towards appearance (colour), taste or mouthfeel (bitterness and astringency), and potential human health benefits.
Precipitated, they form an important part of wine's sediment and play a considerable role in wine ageing. Red wines are much higher in phenolics than white, which is why red wine is better at protecting against heart disease.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wine Bottle Sizes...

Over the centuries - because there was little uniformity in the size and shape of wine bottles, people purchasing wine often didn't know how much they were getting. At one point in the Roman Empire, people would bring their own bottles and just pay for the amount measured and poured into their bottles.
As the Romans advanced their techniques, they eventually discovered that the easy-to-blow onion-shape bottles they typically created weren't ideal for storing wine on its side, which helped it age and wet the (rags used as stoppers) or cork. Thus, they began making longer, flatter bottles that were easier to carry and contained a standard amount, between 0.70 litres and 0.80 litres. This also helped standardize the amount of wine people purchased, though it wasn't until the 1800s that glass blowers perfected this. In 1979 both the United States and the European Union set standards that wine bottles hold exactly 0.75 litres.


As well as the traditional (in many cases, legally required) 750ml bottle (the standard size found on wine merchants shelves), and the useful half-bottle (containing 375ml), there are a number of legally permitted 'large format' bottles. Many of these are named after biblical kings.

Here are some:
Jeroboam - There are two sizes of Jeroboams: the sparkling wine Jeroboam holds 4 bottles, or 3 litres: the still wine Jeroboam holds 6 bottles or 4.5 litres.
Rehoboam - Champagne only 4.5 litres or 6 bottles.
Imperial - 6 litres or 8 bottles. Methuselah - Same size as an Imperial (6 litres) usually used for sparkling wines.
Salmanazar - 12 bottles or 9L.
Balthazar - 16 bottles or 12L.
Nebuchadnezzar - 20 bottles or 15L.
Melchior - 24 bottles or 18L.
Solomon - 28 bottles or 20L.
Melchizedek - 40 bottles or 30L.

The only other commonly encountered size is the 500ml bottle, used for some Ports designed for drinking young, Tokay, the famous sweet wine of Hungary, and in France's Beaujolais area a 500ml bottle (which they call a pot) has long been used.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The oxidation of wine is perhaps the most common of wine faults, as the presence of oxygen and a catalyst are the only requirements for the process to occur. It is also known as maderized wine, from Madeira wine, which is intentionally oxidized.
Oxidation can occur throughout the winemaking process (hence exposure to oxygen in the winery is carefully controlled, although not completely avoided), and even after the wine has been bottled. Anthocyanins and other phenols present in wine are those most easily oxidised, which leads to a loss of colour, flavour and aroma - sometimes referred to as 'flattening'. In most cases compounds such as sulfur dioxide is added to wine by winemakers, which protect the wine from oxidation and also bind with some of the oxidation products to reduce their organoletptic effect.


When a wine becomes oxidized it will turn towards brown - just as a cut apple left on a bench top. White wines will start to show an amber tint and red wines will start to develop a brown edge when viewed in a glass that is tilted. In extreme cases where there is excessive air exposure over longer periods of time, the wine can develop a nutty to caramel aroma, and may also develop slight off-flavours that resemble raisins or cough syrup. It is also important to note that white wines are affected more easily by oxidation than red wines. This is mainly because red wines have more colour pigmentation than white wines. This extra colour pigmentation acts as an anti-oxidant, preserving the wine's colour and flavour.
The biggest factor in oxidation is the amount of wine surface contact with air following opening and pouring. Therefore, wine preservation products that are most effective at reducing air contact with the wine surface will best reduce oxidation.
Once a bottle of wine has been opened for some time, or if oxygen has seeped past a faulty cork or a damaged screw-cap, the wine will oxidise, so simply check all wines before serving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


A Tastevin is a small, very shallow silver cup or saucer traditionally used by winemakers and sommeliers when judging the maturity, quality and taste of a wine.
The saucer-like cups were originally created by Burgundian winemakers (where a very high-level wine society called the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, was named after the tasting cup) to enable them to judge the clarity and colour of wine that was stored in dim, candle-lit wine cellars. The Tastevin cup can vary in size but is typically 7-8 cm in diameter.


The wine would be poured into a shallow layer over the brightly reflecting silver, tasted and swirled by the connoisseur and spat out into a bowl. By definition a taster, "tasse a vin" or tastevin would only hold a small amount of the wine. It needed to be made of a material strong enough to withstand the rigors of daily use as well as being made of a material (Sterling silver) that would not taint the wine in any way.
Regular wine glasses were too deep to allow for accurate judging of the wine's colour in such faint light. Since it is flat like a saucer, it is almost useless for smelling the wine. Tastevin are designed with a shiny faceted inner surface. Often, the bottom of the cup is convex in shape. The facets, convex bottom, and the shiny inner surface catch as much available light as possible, reflecting it throughout the wine in the cup at various angles at once, making it possible to see through the wine. Clarity is less of an issue than it used to be in wine, and with the advent of modern electric lights, glasses are much more effective, so the tastevin has mostly been relegated to novelty.
Although Sommeliers often wear them around on a ribbon or chain around the neck as a sign of respect to tradition.
There are references to the use of Tastevin's in old manuscripts of the 14th and 15th centuries and the earliest English tastevin is dated 1603. The tastevin remains today as the acknowledged ceremonial symbol of Burgundy, France.