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Your Questions

Q

I have noticed some wineries, especially in cooler climates, are making sparkling riesling. Where was it first made, how is it made and is it worth pursuing?

Robyn Winters, Melbourne, Vic

ermany is the world’s largest market for sparkling wine, consuming around 400 million bottles every year. So no surprise that it makes plenty of its own. Sekt was first made in the early 1800s and today much Deutscher Sekt is made by the tank method from several grape varieties. But the new premium category – Winzersekt – is for high-quality varietal sparkling wines produced by wine estates from their own grapes and by second ferment in bottle. There is a minimum requirement for the wines to age for nine months en tirage but often this is much longer. Although producers don’t have to use riesling, those that do make delightful, precise wines that showcase the variety’s wonderful floral aromatics.

Q

How do you know when a natural wine is not at its best? I sometimes struggle to work out if I am tasting the wine as it was intended to be (ie, very funky) or if it’s actually past its use-by-date.

David Holthaus, Townsville, Qld

There’s plenty of debate around the ageing potential of natural wines as without the protection of SO2, the wines are inherently more fragile. I think some of the characters you describe (funky is a polite catch-all term) are part of the wine and I don’t think cellaring will benefit these aromas and flavours. I’d be tempted to drink natural wines within a year of release. Though of course some producers may disagree.

Q

I have drunk sake from a can in Japan, but now I noticed a number of wines have become available in cans. Does being stored in metal have any effect on the wine and how long can you keep wine in a can – not that I’m proposing to cellar any?

Eric Floyd, Maitland, SA

The global canned wine market is worth almost AS$300 million and is expected to keep growing over the next decade. Cans are not only convenient in terms of serving size and weight, but the recyclability of aluminum makes them an attractive alternative to glass packaging. The cans have a thin interior coating, called a ‘liner’ to protect the metal from the wine but unfortunately there hasn’t been much research carried out into whether the polymer liner scalps flavour. I think the best approach is as you say, not to cellar cans but enjoy them for their immediate appeal. I think we are going to see an increase in the range of alcohol being offered in cans and even the most established producers are getting on board. Taylors Port has just introduced Taylor’s Chip Dry and Tonic, a pre-mixed drink in a 250ml can.

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