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Wednesday, April 13, 2005 

Wine & Strawberries in the NY Times

There was an interesting article in the Food section of the NY Times (Always a must-read for food buffs on Wednesdays) on the subject of rising alcohol content in California wines. Eric Asimov writes that some people are concerned about this, as it might be changing people's wine experience.
"You raise the alcohol just a couple percent in wine, and you change people's experience," said Andrew Murray, a winemaker in Santa Barbara County, who says he has tried taming the alcohol in his wines. "The old concept, my wife and I can split a bottle of wine with dinner, is no longer true."
Others disagree, saying that the alcohol content is secondary to the balance and taste of the wine. Some are calling these wines "on steroids" and towards the end of the article, R. Michael Mondavi recalls that in his grandfather's day, they actually used to water down the wine a little bit. Interestingly, that practice still is somewhat common.
In fact, Mr. Mondavi's grandfather used a technique not that different from what some winemakers do to avoid having wines too high in alcohol. They add water to their grape juice before fermenting it into wine, resulting in less alcohol by volume.
I'm not sure how I feel about this.

There is another article in the Times today that I found interesting which deals with California strawberries. David Karp looks at how strawberries have changed in the last fifty years due to breeding. He also notes that the now-familiar clamshell container in which you buy many of your strawberries these days was only invented in 1989. I feel like it's always been around, but I guess now that I remember way back then, I can recall those green, fuzzy boxes in which the berries used to come, topped with plastic wrap and a rubber band. He also looks at the wild strawberry, popular in Europe, but very rare in California.