Otters Oddities

So, Merlot? Sauvignon? Mad Dog 20-20?

Let me state right off that I am not a wine person. I find wine to be grape juice that was left out in the sun too long.

I know there are a lot of people that absolutely love their wine. People that would get violent with me for claiming wine is just expensive vinegar.

But I don't care. People can like their wine. It's just not for me. I'm not into the red, the white, the rose, or the sparkling.

Heck, I'm not even a fan of Boones Farm. And wine coolers? Yeah, that would be no.

Everybody knows one. I'm talking the pretentious wine snob. Heck, you might even be one yourself. You know the type. The person who swirls their glass and sniffs the delicate bouquet while saying things like, "There's a distinct essence of oak lint with a nuance of toast."

People like that are fine. And they will remain fine as long as they stay the hell away from me. Because, while they pretend to know wine, they really don't know Jack!

But guess what? Otter is here, and I'm about to school the wine snobs on a fact they did not know. And it has to do with their precious red wine.

His name was Louis, and he was king of France. Louis XIV to be exact. He was a man who liked the finer things in life. And by the finer things I mean things like food and champagne.

But, not the champagne you or I drink. Back in the 1600's, the most popular wine was Spanish. But the French did make some good stuff. Mostly in the Champagne and Burgundy regions. And of the two, the red wine from the Champaign region was the best.

In 1650, the wine makers in Burgundy began touting the health benefits of their version of red. No one fell for it.

Well, that is until 1693 when Louis XVI got a new doctor.

He also got gout.

Gout was caused by red wine. But Louis doctor believed the propaganda the Burgundy makers were spouting. Specifically the claims that Burgundy reds cured gout.

There was a small problem, though. Burgundy reds weren't as good as the reds from Champagne. If given a choice, no one would intentionally drink a Burgundy if a Champagne was available.

But, doctors orders stated that a Burgundy would cure gout and allow Louis to keep drinking, so Burgundy it was. And the royal court had to play along, because they had to drink and eat what the king ate.

And since Burgundys were being drunk at court, that's what the common folk and the aristocracy began drinking.

The wine makers in Champagne were in trouble.

Well, not totally. They did produce a very good white wine. But the problem was, it was fizzy. Once the wine was made and barreled up, it kept fermenting. And this second fermentation produced some bubbles. But since they didn't know how to keep the bubbles from happening, they just decided to sell it anyway.

And one of the early buyers was a company in England. They really enjoyed the taste, and the bubbles didn't bother them. 'Refreshing', they called them.

Well, about the time France started shipping barrels of white wine to England, the English perfected a new type of glass bottle. And to top it off, the sealed these bottles not with a stopper, but with cork. And the cork created an air tight seal.

Since most people don't buy wine by the barrel, this English company started using the new bottle design and corks to portion out the wine for sale.

What they found though, was by creating an airtight seal, none of the bubbles could escape. This resulted in a loud 'pop' when the cork was loosed, and an abundance of bubbles in the drink.

And the English went nuts for it.

Today, wine makers know how to stop this secondary fermentation in the bottle. That's why we have non-sparkling white wines. And had the French known about the method back in 1693, we wouldn't have champagne today. Not the bubbly kind, at least.

Isn't it amazing what new products a simple case of gout can produce?

*Authors Note*

Wine makers stop the secondary fermentation process by pumping poison gas through the wine before bottling it. Yummy. Just another reason I don't like wine.