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The Essence of Wine: Mint


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

From the wailing currents of the river Cocytus, a river nymph named Minthe glimpsed the passing chariot of Hades, and was seduced by its dark rider. But the instant their passion flamed, a jealous Persephone intervened, transforming the innocent naiad into the aromatic herb we know by the same name. Even before its creation myth, mint was both a medicine and a delicacy. Its aroma in wine often blends with eucalyptus and cut grass, their collective green seeming evidence of transubstantiation and somehow more remarkable than flavors of exotic fruit. Truthfully, a vineyard shadowed by eucalyptus or carpeted in mint often carries those flavors through to a finished wine thanks to airborne oils. But sometimes the green mysteriously emerges from the grape itself, a product of when it was picked to where it was aged. These bracing herbal flavors that cool the tongue and lift the spirit may just as well have been forged from the sweet breath of a nymph carried on an ancient breeze.

Jemrose "Glorias Gem" Proprietary Red, Bennett Valley, California, USA
Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France
D'Arenberg "The Dead Arm" Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Victoria, Australia
Jim Barry "The Cover Drive" Cabernet, South Australia
Hourglass "Blueline Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA
Steele "Catfish Vineyard" Zinfandel, Lake County, California, USA
San Pedro "Cabo de Hornos" Red Blend, Curicó Valley, Chile
Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa

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 Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise 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 Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud