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, January 26, 2010

The French Paradox

The 'French Paradox' is the observation that the French suffer a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. The term French paradox was coined by Dr. Serge Renaud, a scientist from Bordeaux University in France in 1992.
Health experts around the world are puzzled as they try to discover the 'secret' behind the French Paradox. The problem is that the French consume three times as much saturated fat as Americans and one-third less French people die from heart attacks. The French also have much less obesity than other Western countries.


The French eat rich foods high in saturated fats, such as cream, butter, pastry and rich cheeses. But they also consume red wine and olive oil. Some scientists believe the French habit of moderate red wine drinking with a meal is the key to the French paradox. Studies show that people who drink red wine regularly have lower rates of cancer, Alzheimer and heart disease.
Medical experts generally agree that a low-fat diet, exercise, and not smoking minimize the risk of heart attacks, which makes this paradox difficult to understand. In the book 'In Defence of Food', Michael Pollan suggests the explanation is not any single nutrient, but the combination of nutrients found in unprocessed food; ?the whole length and breadth of nutrients found in 'natural' foods as opposed to 'processed' foods.
Red wine and red grapes contain special flavonoid antioxidants called resveratrol that can offset some of the effects of gluttony, say researchers at Harvard Medical School. Resveratrol is shown to help lower glucose levels, help your liver and promote health benefits to the heart and blood vessels. Researchers are finding that antioxidants seem to trigger receptors in your upper intestine that tell your brain you are full.
Note: Please consult your medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Fiasco

A Fiasco - from late Latin flasca, flasco (bottle, container), - is a typical Italian style of bottle, usually with a round body and bottom, partially or completely covered with a close-fitting straw basket, that also enables the bottle to stand upright. This straw covered bottle has nurtured an image of cheap Italian table wine. Though the high cost of hand weaving the straw has lead to the near demise of this charming container.


The basket is typically made of sala, a swamp weed, sun-dried and blanched. The basket provides protection during transportation and handling, and a flat base. Thus the glass bottle can have a round bottom, which is much simpler to make by glass blowing. Fiasco's can be efficiently packed for transport, with the necks of upturned bottles safely tucked into the spaces between the baskets of upright ones.
It is not exactly known when the straw covering was introduced. A 14th century painting by 'Tomaso da Modena' shows a small rounded flask, completely wrapped with cords of some kind, plus other artistic depictions by; Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. The earliest fragments of sala-covered bottles date from the 15th century.
Throughout its history, the Fiasco was found on the tables of peasants and Popes alike. A decree from 1574 and many more after this time - were set in place to try and give a guarantee to the wines authenticity, and another in 1621 mandated sealing the bottle's mouth with molten lead. For this reason, the straw cover had to be reduced, leaving the bottle bare from the shoulder up - which continues to this day.
By the early 20th century, the manufacture of Fiascos employed about 1000 glass blowers and 30,000 basket weavers.
The straw bands can be vertical or horizontal; the former was traditionally used for fiascos destined to local markets, while the latter, with a reinforced base and more careful weaving, was chiefly used for export. The latter often used a basket of whitened straw, decorated with two stripes of the Italian flag colours.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Champagne Flute

Champagne stemware refers to the flute and coupe or saucer stemware used in the enjoyment of champagne, other sparkling wines, and even certain beers. Champagne may also be served in a white wine glass with a tulip shape - (but more common for critiquing).
In early times the preference for drinking Champagne was from a very open style glassware, but this merely had the effect of giving a larger surface area which let the carefully orchestrated bubbles escape more quickly leaving the wine flat and characterless. Today wine and glass producers believe that a fine slender glass not only shows the wine more attractively, but allows the delicate bubbles to be highlighted and preserved as long as possible.


The champagne flute - is a stemmed glass with a tall, narrow, thin bowl. The bowl of a flute may resemble a narrow wine glass; or a trumpet shape; or be very narrow and straight-sided. As with other stemware, the stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the colour and more importantly the temperature of sparkling wine.
The bowl is designed to retain champagne's signature carbonation for longer, by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl; the bubbles can't escape as fast. The flute has largely replaced the champagne coupe or saucer, the shape of which allowed carbonation to dissipate even more rapidly than from a standard wine glass. Its smaller diameter also allows more flutes to be carried on a serving tray. A smoother surface area inside the glass (i.e. Riedel Crystal) will produce fewer bubbles in the glass, except from the 'etch' made at the bottom of the glass - and present more bubble texture on the taster's palate.
While most commonly used for sparkling wines, flutes are also used for certain beers, especially Belgian beers, which are brewed with wild yeast and often fruited. The tart flavour of these beers, coupled with their carbonation, makes them similar to sparkling white wines, and the champagne flute can be an ideal choice of glassware.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blind Tasting

There is a saying in the wine industry - 'a look at the label is worth ten years experience'. When looking at a new wine, range of wines from the same country, region or vintage or tasting wines in a competition environment. To ensure impartial judgment of a wine, it should be served 'blind' - that is, without the taster(s) having seen the label, capsule or bottle shape. Blind tasting may also involve serving the wine from a black wine glass (like the Riedel Blind Tasting Glass) to mask the colour of the wine. A taster's judgment can be biased by knowing details of a wine, such as geographic origin, vintage, price, reputation, colour, or other considerations.


Scientific research has long demonstrated the power of suggestion in perception as well as the strong effects of expectancies. Any knowledge that you have about a wine can cloud your judgement or influence your assessment. Example: perhaps you don't like Cabernet Sauvignon (well to be precise - you are still to find a Cabernet that you like). So any Cabernet you taste going forward - will already have one strike against it before it even hits your lips. Maybe the wine was ultra-expensive. You may be willing to give that wine a better score card simply because it cost you an arm and a leg. These factors and many more can influence your opinion, subconsciously or otherwise. The best way to make an honest assessment is to know nothing at all.
There is another reason to taste blind. Tasting a wine blind forces the taster to concentrate on every small aspect of the wine. The taster may be struggling to pinpoint the style or origin of the wine - they will try even harder to identify aromas, flavours, winemaking or styles.
When blind tasting at a wine club or even at home with friends - do not get discouraged by any wrong answers. Take from each example a part that you did well, even if it is something as simple as finding raspberries in the aroma. Each time you will gain more experience that can be drawn upon the next time you taste wine blind.