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The Essence of Wine: Pears


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Which is a better testament to its glory? That the oldest languages we know all have a word for "pear?" Or that its growing patterns spread like alluvial fans along the world's most ancient trade routes? We've apparently been charmed by this awkwardly bulbous fruit since prehistoric times, when its dangling, fulsome ripeness must have been a welcome gift in the wilderness. Time and the experimental flights of our own fancy have produced thousands of varieties, with hues from purple to white, and with characters that are equally diverse. But from the translucent-skinned, velvety Bartlett, to the crisp and floral Asian pear, a thread of flavor unites its many incarnations. The pear's unique combination of slightly woody skin and sweet juicy flesh make for complex organoleptics that are frequently evoked in wine. Pears are a signature flavor across many of the world's whites, but especially Pinot Gris, Riesling, Friulano, Malvasia, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Furmint, and Chenin Blanc. Though pears, like apples have long been made into their own elixirs, they never appear quite so sublime as they do wafting out of a glass of white wine.

Ruinart "Dom Ruinart" Blanc de Blancs Champagne, France
Angoves "Vineyard Select" Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia
Marc Kreydenweiss "Clos Rebberg" Pinot Gris, Alsace, France
Smith Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California, USA
Palmina Wines "Honea Vineyard" Tocai Friulano, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA
Giaconda "Aeolia" Roussanne, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany
King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon, USA
Bastianich "Adriatico" Friulano, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
Weingut Nigl "Privat - Pellingen Erste Lage" Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Niederösterreich, Austria
Kiralyudvar "Sec" Dry Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary
Kogl M.D. Albus "Magna Domenica" White Wine, Podravje, Slovenia
Quinta do Alqueve Fernão Pires, Ribetejano, Portugal
Cantina Terlano "Vorberg Reserva" Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige, Italy
Ken Forrester Wines "The FMC" Chenin Blanc

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

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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.