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Wine Guide, Wine Pronounciation guide

The World of Wine

The World of Wine production is a massive world-wide operation. Multinational companies buy from small vineyards and there is a labyrinth of confusion over branding, blending and pricing.

Taking 2005 figures, France was the world's largest wine producer with 5,329,449 tonnes. Italy was second with 5,056,648 tonnes and then came: 3rd Spain, 4th Turkey, 5th USA, 6th Argentina,7th China, 8th Australia, 9th South Africa and 10th Germany. Some of the most popular wine choices in the UK came surprisingly far down the list New Zealand was listed in 24th place. Our own UK industry was listed in 64th place with a production of 1,450 tonnes; however, UK wine production is vibrant and is steadily increasing its variety of wines. Global warming may have some benefits!

A study of wine makes fascinating reading. Each country has specific rules about its own and other countries products. There is even dispute about the definition of the word 'wine' itself. Strict traditionalists define it as an alcoholic beverage made from fermentation of grape juice. Other fruits can be used to ferment and produce enticing drinks but only the grape has the natural chemical balance to produce wine without the addition of 'extras' e.g. sugars, acids, tannin, enzymes. For more information about wines from fruits other than grape visit

Hundreds of books exist that analyze and inform about wine visit our Wine Gifts section for an interesting selection. We will now have a look at some New World Wines.

New World Wines originally were more alcoholic and full bodied than their European counterparts. This is because the grapes were grown in warmer climates and tended to be riper. Recently, production has become more sophisticated and experiments have been successful in selecting suitable grapes and in producing well balanced blends. To compete with the established vineyards of Europe, marketing and pricing have become very subtle and competitive. Because of economies of scale in the very large vineyards in the New World, giant multinational companies and supermarkets have driven the price of wine down dramatically in recent years.

A quick look at some of the major New World producers:

USA: There are wineries in most States but the largest producer by far is California, followed by Washington State and Oregon. The tradition of wine making in California can be traced far back to Spanish influences and also settlers from Italy. The industry was devastated by the savageries of Prohibition but made rapid steps to recovery in the 60's and 70's. Sauvignon Blanc was one of the early Californian favourites. The robust red grape Zinfandel became known world wide before it was joined by a wide variety of other wines. Cabernet Sauvignon soon captured a wide audience and so did Chardonnay. The US wine industry is inventive and deservedly ranks with the best for some of its wines.

Useful links:

Argentina: The export of Argentinian wine was limited until the 1990's. Home consumption of wine is very high per capita consumption in 2006 was over 40 litres. The Argentinians like their steaks washed down by a good red!! The industry dates back to the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish. Recently, there have been many changes Italian and German grapes have a good foothold and exports have soared. The country's reds have received the best reviews but there are some good whites available made from the Torrentes grape. Wine production has been stimulated by local competition from Chile and Peru in particular.

Useful links:

Australia: Australia has a long history of viniculture. The early settlers brought vines with them but early efforts brought limited success. Soil and climate conditions required much experimentation, and just as progress was being made, phylloxera struck in the late 19th century and decimated the vineyards. Wine making has now become very sophisticated and the early successes such as Chardonnay have now been joined by Shiraz and Pinot Noir and even Riesling. It is a vast country allowing for a huge range of grapes to be planted.

Useful links:

New Zealand: A very slow start but a huge surge in the 1970's helped by Britain and EEC regulations encouraging trade. Kiwis themselves developed a taste for wine and there have been some imaginative developments in their wineries. The trademark Sauvignon Blanc is now matched by Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and even Gewurztraminer. A great country to visit for a wine tasting experience!!

Useful link:

South Africa: Wine making started in the 17th century with the arrival of the Boers but it suffered greatly at the hands of phylloxera. Trade has had some blips because of political uncertainties but the country produces some excellent wines, particularly Chenin Blanc. A variety of vines have been introduced including Pinotage and Shiraz.

Useful links:

Chile: Viniculture dates back to the Conquistadores but the national end products were never highly rated. Things improved with the arrival of French vines but quantity rather than quality was always a feature of Chilean production until recently. Now there are some excellent wines available particularly Pinot Noir.

Useful link:

Wine has become truly globalized and there are hundreds of varieties to tempt the palate. Visit our wine shop for some ideas. Be adventurous. How about some Bull's Blood wine from Hungary?

Let's not forget the doyen of all wine producers. France. So much information is available but we have found the following sites very useful.

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