Quality wine in the world is roughly produced between 30 and 50 degrees latitude. While you could probably grow grapes in Macao the final result will give a flappy wine as the vine needs the season cycle to give a balanced fruit.
The wine making, in a nutshell, is the transformation of the grape juice by adding yeast which will convert the sugar into alcohol, heat and CO2. So basically any wine could be sparkling. Both white or red grapes – at least a good 99% of them- give a clear juice and the red colour of the wine will come from the skin of the grape. Hence sometimes for red wines labels using the terms “cold-soaking” or “Extended Maceration” which will give more depth of colour, tannins and taste to the wine.
The second important step of wine making is the ageing. For the white wines the skin contact is avoided and the wine kept in stainless steel tank to preserve its freshness and vibrancy. Some will go through “wood ageing”, usually oak, which will smoothen the acidity and give it more roundness.
When oak maturation is the exception for the whites it is the custom for reds as it gives the wines more tannins (also present in the skin grapes)- which help to keep the structure of the wine together, hence more ageing potential – and with prolonged ageing in the container it smoothens up the astringency of the wine and gives it a “smoky” flavour. Sometimes specified on the back label is if the wine was aged in new oak or young oak – green tannins and more wood taste – or old oak (used barrels) or vats – less wood influence, smoother tannins – that gives an idea of the texture of the wine. Another common information on the label is the length of oak maturation – usually 6 months minimum to 36 months maximum – the wood being porous there is a micro-oxygenation which will also make the wine smoother.
Between white and red there is rosé (pink) wine. It’s made out of red grapes but with only a few hours contact with the skins, when it can be few weeks in the case of red winemaking. The term for this technique is “de saignée”, in french literally meaning “bleeding”. The longer the winemaker makes the grapes “bleed”, the darker the rosé and more full body it will be. David Rouault
Here are some very affordable examples from Portugal to illustrate the influence of winemaking:
Blend of Alavarinho and Trajadura grapes from the micro climate area of Monção and Melgaço, it gives a medium body white with a pale yellow colour and a vivid nose of lemon peel, seashell and vanilla flower. The maceration in stainless steel gives a fresh wine, very dry with a crisp acidity and vibrant flavours of passion fruit, some minerality and saltiness. Long finish on oyster shell’s aroma.
Rosé wines are still not very common around here, regrettably as it’s versatility allows it to match a lot of different styles of food. This rosé has deep salmon colour with a nose of raspberry and strawberry which develops on the palate as well with some eucalyptus background with a long leafy finish. Medium body wine that could pair well with some pasta or pizza, grilled chicken, Char Siu (叉燒) or Chinese Fondue just to name few.
Entry wine of the Mouchão winery, Dom Rafael is a blend of mostly Alicante Bouschet – one of the rare “teinturier” grape (coloured flesh) – Trincadera and Aragonez. The wine is aged 12 months in oak then rest another 6 months in the bottle before release. Concentrated bouquet of black fruits, liquorice, cigar box, cherry jam and soya sauce. Very high acidity with pronounced yet smooth tannins. Long finish on green tobacco leaf.
These wines can be easily found at www.superarmacau.com and some local supermarkets.
David Rouault is a professional classical musician, part time wine consultant and full time wine lover,
holding WSET Advanced Level, CSW and Introductory Sommelier diplomas. www.dionysos.com.mo