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The Essence of Wine: Roses


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Few things in this world are laden in equal weights of symbolism and perfume. For millennia we have asked an ancient flower to stand in for factions, for status, for sex, for God, for beauty, for secrets, for ideology, and of course, for love. 2500 years of devoted cultivation have produced countless hues and shapes and scents of rose. We paint them, we wear them, we give them, we eat them, we decorate with them, and we anoint ourselves with their remarkable perfume. So distinct and special is the flower's perfume, that finding it in a wine glass can be as shocking as it is pleasurable. Yet the scent of roses emerges unmistakably from several notable grapes — the pink-tinged Gewürztraminer, the dark ruby Nebbiolo, and several shades of Muscat, among others. The smell of dried rose petals mixed with the dark tar and leather notes of an aged Barolo remains one of the wine world's most profound and sought-after experiences, while the flowery breezes that waft out of a well-made Alsace Gewürztraminer conjure up hyper-color landscapes of crisp sunlight and crystalline blue skies. The pretense of speaking about wine's perfume can seem stilted at times, but not when the wine smells of the world's most beloved flower.

Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Theo Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France
J. Hofstätter Kolbenhof Gewurztraminer, Alto Adige, Italy
Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Gewurztraminer, Finger Lakes, New York, USA
Dancing Coyote Gewürztraminer, Clarksburg, California, USA
Pullus "G" Gewürztraminer, Ptujska Klet, Slovenia
Limnos Co-op "Muscat de Limnos" Muscat de Alexandria, Limnos, Greece
Marisa Cuomo Costa d'Amalfi Fiorduva, Campania, Italy
Weingut Nigl Gelber Muskateller Kremstal, Niederösterreich, Austria
Finca Las Nubes Torrontes, Cafayete, Salta, Argentina
Giacomo Conterno Barolo "Cascina Francia" Piemonte, Italy
Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis, Piemonte, Italy
La Spinetta Barolo Riserva Vürsù Vigneto Campè, Piemonte, Italy
Gaja "Sperss" Nebbiolo, Langhe, 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 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