Is it really possible to produce wine in space?

According to NASA, it most certainly is possible to make interstellar wine. We’re assuming they have higher priorities when it comes to exploring the final frontier, but it’s interesting to know that it could happen.

Over the last couple of years, NASA astronauts aboard the ISS (International Space Station) have been showing that it’s possible to grow produce in space, harvest it and eat it safely.

While they’ve been concentrating on nutrition for astronauts rather than fancy drinks, does the fact that they’ve been happily making space salads mean that a vintage space wine could be on its way?

Grapes are a challenge in space

ideal wine grape growingMost of the vegetables grown so far have been compact and easy to harvest. A major challenge in growing wine grapes in space would be the way vines need to grow.

Gioia Massa, a representative for NASA’s Vegetable Production System, said: “We have been working with some dwarf fruit trees that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) developed, and I have heard that they also have some dwarf grape vines, so if the plants were small enough or could be trained around, for example, lights, it would certainly be possible to grow them.”

If the challenge of needing compact vines that can be clipped and trained in a certain way could be overcome, then the next step would be pollination. In 2018, NASA astronauts will be trying to pollinate tomatoes manually in the hopes of developing a process that can be replicated with other vegetables and fruit.

What about fermentation?

Grapes are only part of what’s needed to make wine – somehow the process of fermentation must also happen. So, is that possible in space? According to studies testing beer brewing in space, very possibly.

Student research shows that by using a microbial bioreactor, it is (at least in theory) possible that fermentation and other similar processes could happen in an atmosphere of microgravity.

So, to conclude, yes it’s ‘possible’ to grow grapes in space and make a galactical vintage. However, as NASA are concentrating on trying to ensure astronauts can grow vegetables for their health while on the space station, it’s unlikely to happen any time soon. We can always hope though!

The Bellini: a cocktail classic

The Bellini is an Italian classic is popular among those that prefer to diverge from a Mimosa, swapping zesty orange flavours for a sweeter peach flavour.

The recipe for a Bellini originates from Venice, Italy. The sweet treat is as simple as two parts Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) to one part peach puree. A hint of raspberry or cranberry juice can be added giving the drink its unique pink tint. Created in the 1930s-40s by bartender Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice, it was named after the Italian renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini.

Variations

Since the perfection of the original recipe, there have been many variations. This is predominantly due to the availability of the products used, however bottled peach puree made specifically for a Bellini can be purchased. Alternatively, a homemade puree can be concocted using canned fruit.

Recipe

The recipe for a Bellini is as simple as two steps:

  • First put one tablespoon of peach puree into the bottom of a chilled flute glass
  • Secondly, slowly fill the glass up with Prosecco so that it stirs up the puree

If, by chance, you do not have access to peaches and raspberries to puree, below is a version using all bottled/canned ingredients – this version will have a higher alcohol content than the original version:

  • Firstly, mix two ounces of peach nectar, one ounce of peach schnapps and finally one teaspoon of lemon juice into a chilled flute glass
  • To finish, add the Prosecco and stir

Mocktail, anyone?

For those that fancy something refreshing and tasty but don’t want the hassle of a morning hangover, this ‘Mocktail’ Bellini is a perfect fit. Using one tablespoon of peach puree, one ounce of mineral water and half an ounce of lemon juice and sparkling white grape juice. Just as simple as the original, this three-step recipe will taste just as delicious.

  • Firstly, put peach puree in the bottom of a champagne flute
  • Secondly, squeeze in the lemon juice.
  • Finally, slowly pour in the mineral water and grape juice leaving the drink to stir

A seasonal drink

The Bellini is delicate and light drink with accentuating sweet tones – perfect for spring and summer months. This drink can be enjoyed in the sun with friends, making it perfect for an afternoon party – your guests can accompany it with appetizers for a light snack. You can buy Pizzolato Spumante Prosecco online now from Ideal Wine Company, perfect for making a Bellini.

Four Amazing Wine Dessert Recipes

If you choose to start cooking with wine this year, you can use this incredibly versatile product to whip up everything from mouth-watering mains to delicious deserts. In order to help you develop your wine-based cook book, here we reveal four amazing wine desert recipes for you to try in 2017.

Wine-soaked pears

If you want a light after-dinner dish, try wine-soaked pairs. Browse our Bordeauxs list, to find the full-bodied red this dish requires. You’ll need three cups of red wine, four pealed pears, half a cup of white sugar, juice from half a lemon, a split, seeded vanilla bean and a cinnamon stick, broken into half.

Start by pouring the lemon juice over the pears. Place the wine, sugar, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick into a small sauce pan and bring this mixture to boil. Add the pears in and let them simmer in this mixture for about 30 minutes and then let them cool. Finish by simmering the remaining mixture until it is reduced by half and then pouring it over the pears, to make a delicious dish which serves four.

Champagne cupcakes

You can use wine to make a range of scrumptious cakes. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, you may want to opt for Champagne cupcakes. You can find top Champagnes from Ideal Wine Company, with our list featuring brands such as Dom Perignon. To make a batch of 20 cakes, you’ll need six egg whites, a three quarter cup of Champagne, one and a half cups of white sugar, a two third cup of butter, one tablespoon of salt, three tablespoons of baking powder two three quarter cups of flour.

You’ll also need to make Champagne buttercream icing. This requires three tablespoons of Champagne, half a teaspoon of vanilla, a cup of butter and a three quarter cup of icing sugar. Start by preheating your oven to 175°C and putting cake cases into a cupcake pan. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, before sifting the flour, baking powder, salt and Champagne in. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold a third of these whites into the batter.

After this, fill the cupcake cases with the batter until they are two thirds full and then bake your cakes for around 20 minutes. Now turn your attention to the icing. You should start by beating together the icing sugar and butter with an electric mixer. After this is well-blended, add in the Champagne, before beating for another minute and then apply this icing to the cakes, to create unique little treats!

Wine popsicles

In summer, go for something that’ll cool you down, like wine popsicles. For this recipe, we’d suggest that you buy a bold Cabernet red wine. You’ll require three cups of red wine and water respectively. You’ll also need half a cup of white sugar, a cinnamon stick, eight black, crushed pepper corns, six whole cloves, four crushed cardamom pods and a two inch strip of orange zest, to make ten popsicles.

You should begin by heating the wine, orange zest, sugar, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom on a medium setting. You should stir the mixture and lower the heat, to bring it to a simmer, reducing it until you have a cup’s worth left. Then, remove the mixture from the pan, let it cool for 20 minutes, add the cinnamon stick, stir in the water and pour it into moulds. After this, you should add a popsicle stick to each one, before letting them freeze overnight and then voila!

Red wine doughnuts

For something filling, try red wine doughnuts! You’ll need a quarter cup of cocoa, sugar, milk, red wine and chocolate chips each. This recipe also requires a cup of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, one egg, a pinch of salt, three tablespoons of apple sauce, a tablespoon of canola oil and a teaspoon of vanilla. You should also have half a cup of chocolate chips and gold sprinkles for the chocolate glaze.

Before preparing the recipe, preheat your oven to 230°C and grease a doughnut pan. Then, mix together the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, sugar and flour, before adding in the red wine, vanilla, apple sauce, canola oil, milk and egg. You should stir this mixture and then add in the chocolate chips, before pouring this batter into the pan and baking for roughly ten minutes. After this, melt down the chocolate chips and add the sprinkles to create a glaze which you can brush over your doughnuts!

Get cooking

With these four recipes, we’ve only just gotten started. You can browse various sources, from wine blogs such as Vine Pair to recipe sites like BBC Good Food, to discover a range of delicious wine dessert recipes to try. You may want to buy the wine needed for these dishes from Ideal Wine Company. With us, you can find fine wines from regions like Australia, Bordeaux and California at great prices!

Ideal Wine Company explains the word “Appellation”

In the Ideal Wine Company’s opinion, every wine enthusiast should know what the word “appellation” means. This seemingly insignificant, industry-specific term is the key to understanding the composition of your favourite tipple.

Definition of “appellation”

The Free Dictionary defines an “appellation (wine)” as “a protected name under which a wine may be sold, indicating that the grapes used are of a specific kind from a specific district.” Essentially this means that “appellation” is a term the wine making industry uses to refer to the location a particular bottle was produced.

Vineyard classification system

In reality it’s so much more. It’s also a vineyard classification system used by many governments across the world e.g. France’s “appellation d’origine contrôlée” system. This is designed to define the rules and regulations of a wine’s production (e.g. the geographical boundaries the vintage must be made in), as well as the official use of its name, to assure the quality and authenticity of the vintage.

The most obvious example is Champagne. The sparkling wine was granted “appellation d’origine contrôlée” status by France’s official wine-regulator, the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, in 1936. This designation marked the geographical boundaries, rules and regulations wine-makers must adhere to if they want to label their product a “Champagne.”

Grape index

This means that the appellation of a wine can be used as a “grape index” to determine which grapes it was made from. This is especially common in France, where wine-makers often refer to their product by its appellation without listing its grape varietals.

Let’s use the Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1978, which you can buy from Ideal Wine Company, as an example. As is tradition with many Bordeaux wines, the vintage doesn’t list its grapes varietals. However if you look at its label you’ll discover it’s a “Paulliac,” meaning it’s a red wine that was been produced according to the rules and regulations that govern the “Paulliac appellation.” This means that the Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1978 contains grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenere and Petit Verdo.

Determine quality

This is why it’s vital that wine enthusiasts know what the word “appellation” means. A wine’s appellation can tell you about how it was made, where it was made and what it was made from; all factors that allow you to determine the quality of the final product.

How to Cleanse Your Palate for Wine Tasting

To ensure you get the full richness of flavour that can be found in every bottle you buy from the Ideal Wine Company, this week we explain how to cleanse your palate for wine tasting.

Why Should You Cleanse your Palate Before Every New Sip?

Here at the Ideal Wine Company we seek to provide you with outstanding fine wines from around the world at a price you can afford. As such, we want you to get the most out of every wine you buy from the Ideal Wine Company.

That’s why this week we wanted to turn our attention to the issue of cleansing your palate. You can’t receive the full impact of a luxury vintage if you have the vestiges of the previous bottle stuck to your taste buds. Contrasting flavours intermingle for an unpleasant experience. That’s why you need to ensure you cleanse your palate every time you taste a new fine wine.

Can You Cleanse Your Palate With Food?

So what works? Is there a food that will work? Most social gatherings that include a wine tasting often serve platters of cheese, meats etc.; will any of these work?

No. Taking a bite of cheese or meat before tasting a new wine ruins the flavour. Wine tends to taste different with food. That’s why, for example, there are certain cheeses you pair with certain wines. However if you watch the wine experts you’ll soon find that there’s one food that acts as a fantastic palate cleanser.

The Right Way to Cleanse your Palate before Tasting a Wine

Bread. Bread is neutral enough in flavour that you can eat a bite and it’ll do wonders for your palate. However if you watch the experts you’ll see that they do more than eat a bite of bread to cleanse their palate.

They also take a swig of water. It may sound simple but it’s pretty effective. Water is the most neutral drink in the world and ensures that you clean every last nook and cranny of your palate before you indulge in a new sip of fine wine.

Eat Bread and Drink Water

In other words, all you have to do to cleanse your palate for wine tasting is eat a chunk of bread and wash it down with a few gulps of refreshing water. Then, you’ll be perfectly positioned to enjoy the full complexity of rich flavours that characterise a truly outstanding bottle of fine wine.