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The Essence of Wine: Espresso


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Its discovery in the highlands of Ethiopia remains shrouded in the mystery of lost tribal lore. Having bargained for beans, the Sufis were the first we know of to begin the brewing ritual whose mere scent can enliven the soul. Once a sacred Muslim stimulant, its formulation closely guarded, now the world can hardly imagine life without the rich indulgence of coffee and its firm grip on our circadian rhythms. Bitter, nutty, earthy and woody — approaching caramel and chocolate but never quite reach the extremes of confection — coffee's layered and dramatic aromas are unique and unmistakable. The scents of a freshly pulled espresso sometimes emerge from a bottle thanks to the toasted oak of top-quality barrels and the magical synthesis between wood and wine. Entertwined with earthiness and rich fruit, an espresso note in a glass of red adds a richness that echoes the pleasure of that primal, steaming cup. And occasionally in sweeter wines, a note of coffee touched with honey can truly dazzle.

Kay Brothers "Block 6" Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
DOW Vale Do Bomfim Reserva Red Blend, Douro, Portugal
Altair Red Wine, Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Artadi "Pagos Viejos" Rioja, Spain
Vérité "La Joie" Bordeaux Blend, Sonoma County, California, USA
Esk Valley Reserve Bordeaux Blend, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon, Simonsberg Ward, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Argyros Vinsanto, Santorini, Greece
Blandy Madiera "Bual", Portugal

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.