Pass The Toast – The Maillard Reaction in Wine Barrel Toasting.

Chapter Thirteen, Part Four.
Dog stealing food.Not long after Kikunae Ikeda discovered umami, a French physician by the name of Louis Maillard (pronounced my-ARD) described the chemical reaction that takes place when amino acids combined with sugar are exposed to heat. This transformation, once known simply as browning, is now called the Maillard reaction. (It is rumored the original name, browning, was named after Maillard’s cook, Dorothea Brown.)¹

The Maillard reaction is what turns toasted bread a golden brown and creates the seared crust on protein rich foods like steak or chicken. I think my neighbor was grilling some protein rich food last night because I heard him say, “Hey Carter. Get your dog out of Maillard!”

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Can’t See The Forest For The Lees – Of Oak, Wine & Bacon.

Chapter Thirteen, Part Two.

“Oak is here and it will be with us for at least the remainder of the current generation—a generation that has been carefully taught that if a little oak is a good thing, a lumber factory is wonderful.” Dan Berger

2009 Chateau Margaux barrels copy

Wood barrels have been used by the wine trade for over two thousand years, but just over a century ago astute winemakers recognized the transformative effect that oak has on wine and they began to look at barrels as more than storage vessels. Over time, patient old-world vignerons learned that the species of oak, outdoor seasoning, the degree of toasting over fire and the time spent in barrel all bear heavily on how oak “flavors” wine. They learned that one type of oak may add spicy allspice and cinnamon nuances while another may add a smoky bacon flavor. I don’t know about you but I’d eat my left foot if it had a smoky bacon flavor.

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Oak – The Grandfathered Ingredient.

Chapter Thirteen, Part One.

“Oak in wine should be like a ghost in a chateau; you sense its presence, but you don’t actually recognize it.” Pierre Seillan

Manoel Pedro Guimaraens.

Manoel Pedro Guimaraens.

Before his untimely death in 2002, I had lunch with Bruce Guimaraens, the fifth generation winemaker for the esteemed port houses Fonseca and Taylor-Fladgate. Guimaraens was the great, great grandson of Manoel Guimaraens, who founded Fonseca-Guimaraens in 1822. I probably think being a great, great grandson is a big deal because I was never a great, great grandson; I was just an average great grandson.

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