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Wine Wise - Red Dry Wines

( Originally Published 1933 )

The most widely used red dry type of wine is Claret, which originated in France. In the Department of the Gironde are the Bordeaux Wine provinces, perhaps the most famous wine district in the world. The best Clarets are made mainly in four regions, Medoc, Graves, St. Emilion and Pomerol. There many of the aristocratic Clarets are bottled under the names of various Chateaus, which grace the hilltops and are surrounded by the historic vineyards from which the precious red wines come. For instance, Chateau Lafitte, which heads the "premiers crus," belongs to the Rothschilds and the vineyard covers only 170 acres. In each case the Chateau acreage is limited and there-fore each can produce only a small amount of wine per year. Consequently very little of the real French Chateau wines reaches this country. The bulk of the Claret, which is the staple drink of the average French family, is called Vin Ordinaire, remembered by the American soldiers under the name of "Pinard."

Good red wines, owing to their moderate proportion of tannin, relative richness in iron, phosphates and phosphoric acid, are powerfully tonic and recuperative without being exciting or fatiguing for the stomach.

Claret is recommended for those who require a blood-producing stimulant. Claret should be drunk moderately warm. A gentle warmth brings out an appreciation of body, diminishes the astringency and develops all the finer qualities prominently, including that of bouquet.


California vineyards produce good Claret from several varieties of dark-colored grapes, such as Petit Bouschet, Grenache, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mataro and a dozen others. The quality and soundness of California Claret depends chiefly on a perfect fermentation. The characteristics of good Claret are color, sufficient natural alcohol, exhaustion of all sugar of the grape, and the presence of natural tartaric and tannic acids and mellowness from age. Claret is served at the temperature of the room.


Zinfandel is a red dry Claret type made from the Zinfandel grape. It is a tart wine, strong in free acid, and showing the distinct taste and character of the fruit from the Zinfandel vine. It is a distinctly California wine and the grape is one of the oldest and most largely planted in the state. A good Zinfandel must have all of the characteristics of Claret and yet show in . pronounced form a Zinfandel taste. It is a popular red wine served at the temperature of the room.


Rich ruby Burgundy originated in the oldest and most famous viticultural region of Europe-the restricted "Cote d'Or" district of France. It is a deeper red than ordinary Claret and is a more full-bodied dry wine. Burgundy is more costly than Claret because the varieties of grapes used to make this "King of Wines" are not heavy bearers.

In California, Burgundy wine is made by blending a California Burgundy grape with several varieties having heavy color such as Petite Sirah, Petit Bouschet, and a few others. California Burgundy is a smooth, full-bodied red wine much sought by those who like a full-flavored wine. Its alcoholic content ranges from twelve to fourteen per cent and it is served at the temperature of the cellar.


Chianti is a ruby red wine which originated in Tuscany, Italy. It is a heavier wine than ordinary Claret but is less full-bodied than Burgundy. It might be said that Chianti lies between the two. It is the great wine of the Italian people and is popular among travelers, not only because of its fine aroma and flavor, but because of the attractive manner in which it is bottled. The round bottles, with long narrow necks, are covered with colored raffia, which gives the package a very distinctive appearance.

The California Chianti is a fine red wine made mainly from vines imported from the Chianti district of Italy and brought to bearing by vineyardists whose forbears learned their craft in Italy. It is served at the temperature of the room.


Grignolino (pronounced Gree-nyo-lee-no) is a splendid red table wine originating in Asti, Piedmont, Italy. It is of a beautiful ruby-red color, clear and brilliant, of wonderful bouquet, slightly perfumed and of a delightful taste. The largest California acreage of Grignolino vines that make this Claret type is found in San Bernardino County. The California Grignolino is generally ready for consumption when aged about two years. It is served at the temperature of the room.


American dry red wines are fermented in New York, New Jersey and Ohio from grape varieties developed from native American stock. In Ohio and New York, the Ives Seedling is cultivated to produce a juice of deep ruby color. Other red varieties. are blended to produce red wines marketed under the general title of Clarets, but they are a distinct American type, recognized readily by the fruity fragrance of the wine. The same is true of the wines made in Virginia and the Carolinas from a grape known as the Norton Seedling.

In New Jersey, red grapes flourish in a soil having the appearance of white beach sand, prevailing in the vicinity of Egg Harbor. On account of the unique soil conditions and mild climate, these grapes produce a wine developed and marked by the famous old New York wine house of Hiram Dewey more nearly resembling the true Claret type.

In the extreme southern states, some of the T. V. Munson hybrid grapes have been used for making good red wines, all of them having the characteristic fragrance of American varieties.

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