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Understanding Varietals
Pronunciation Glossary
Tasting Terms
How to Taste Wine
How Wine is Made
How Wine is Stored
Wine Regions
Wine Tidbits

Wine Regions

Almost unknown in the US, wine is made in 4 Provinces of Canada. Ontario has 80% of the national production, followed by British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The Niagara Peninsula of Ontario lies between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where the lakes temper the cold North winds. Ontario is a cool-climate zone. Because winter temperatures drop below freezing, icewine is Ontario's specialty. Canada's plantings are now Vitis Vinifera and French/American hybrids.


Before its disintegration in 1991, Yugoslavia was a well known wine producer. Along the Dalmatian(Croatian) Coast, Mike Grgich, California winemaker at Grgich Hills returned to his roots to produce a Plavac Mali red of distinction. Some people speculate it is the origin of Zinfandel.


Cyprus is an important wine region at least in a historical context. Much of this is due to Commander, one of the world's most famous dessert wines. Richard the Lion Hearted is said to have stopped in Cyprus on his way to the Crusades and is quoted as having said "let me drink the wines of Cyprus once more before I die." Preceding Richard, the sweet wines of Cyprus were mentioned by Homer and in the Old Testament. More recently, Cyprus produced an excellent fortified wine that was labeled Cyprus or British Sherry. Since the advent of the EEU, the use of the term Sherry is limited to wines produced in a certain part of Spain. Therefore, while the wines are still of high quality, the Cypriot wine companies have had to retrench and are in the process of reinvigorating the wine industry.


Ancient Greece was one of the birthplaces of viticulture. The warm Mediterranean climate is ideal for grape-growing. Many people associate Greek wine with Retsina, which is a White or Rose(called Kokkineli) wine to which pine resin is added during fermentation. The major vineyard area(1/3) is the Peloponnesus in the South. It is home to Mavrodaphne, a sweet red wine. Muscat of Samos is a sweet wine made from late-harvested grapes on the Island of Samos. A few producers are experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.


After the fall of Communism, winemakers have invested new capitol into improving cellar equipment and expanding grape plantings. Tokay(Tokaji) is the celebrated sweet white wine produced for over 1,000 years. The chief grape variety is Furmint. The noble rot mold forms on the grapes, causing the skins to shrink and the grapes to become overripe(same as Sauternes). The overripe grapes known as Aszu are placed in tubs called Puttonyos. Thus the sweetness of a Tokay Aszu relates to the number of Puttonyos of overripe grapes that are used. Three is the driest; Four is sweet and Five and Six are the sweetest. Egri Bikaver(Bulls Blood of Eger)is a full-bodied red wine. of all Hungarian wines are white. The best known are- Harslevelu, Leanyka, Keknyelu and Szurkebarat(Pinot Gris).


Wine has been made in what is now Israel since the beginning of recorded time. Edmond de Rothschild re-established the wine industry during the 1880's. The conversion from mainly kosher sweet wine to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc has changed the quality of the wines. Plantings are along coastal Samson and Shomron regions and in cooler Galil(Golan Heights) vineyards, North of the Sea of Galilee.


Spanish settlers introduced the vine to Mexico in the 16th. Century. Most grape growing is in the north central part of the country and in the Baja California region.


There are only two regulations that must be followed to make Kosher wine: Only Kosher ingredients may be used in the winemaking process. Only Sabbath Observant Jews may touch the product or equipment at the winery. In Israel, two additional Biblical injunctions are observed: Fruit may be picked from the vine only after the fourth year of growth. Fields must lay fallow every seventh year or, instead, the wines may be symbolically sold to a non-Jew. Nothing in the production of Kosher wines effects the quality. The wines are made using traditional methods of fermentation, blending, maturation and bottling.


The climate is ideal for grape growing in Romania. At one time the most famous wine was Cotnari, a white, sweet dessert wine, similar to Sauternes. Murfatlar, another sweet wine is grown along the shores of the Black Sea. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Riesling are also being planted.