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The Essence of Wine: Candle Wax


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

It belongs with the sounds of slowly creaking doors, the smell of old books and the feel of parchment on the fingers. It promises comfort and respite, and a reassurance that everything will happen in its own time. As the wick shortens and sputters, the world collapses to a bright point of light and then, darkness, where aromas of melted wax linger like ghosts in an old mansion. There was once a time when a candle was the only tool to keep this darkness at bay. These days a whiff of paraffin might as well be a glimpse of buried treasure for many wine lovers. Riesling aficionados certainly know a good thing when they smell it. Just as it suffuses old books with that ineffable aroma, time brings new dimensions to many white grapes, but especially Riesling. Fruit becomes wax, herb and stone — once bright metal now gleams from under an attractive patina. Smelled more often than tasted, notes of molten candle wax bring a surprising dimension to wine, lending a gravitas that plays foil to other flavors as it whispers mysteriously of times gone by.

Smith Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California, USA
Weingut St. Urbans-hof "Piesporter Goldtropfchen" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
Torbreck "Woodcutters" Semillon, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Pullus Pinot Grigio, Ptujska Klet, Slovenia
Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli, Kakheti, Republic of Georgia
Domaine Marcel Deiss "Burg" White Blend, Bergheim, Alsace, France
Graf Hardegg "Von Schloss" Riesling, Niederoesterreich, Austria
Henschke "Julius" Riesling, Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia
Renaissance Vineyards "Vin de Terroir" Roussanne, Sierra Foothills, California, USA
Bibich "Lucica" Debit, North Dalmatia, Croatia
Benanti "Pietramarina" Bianco Superiore, Etna, Sicily
Vodopivec Vitovska, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

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.