Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Clever recycling afoot

A Canadian footwear company is collaborating with an American business to recycle wine corks in an innovative way. Sole is joining forces with United in Blue to make shoes with soles that reuse some of the 30 million corks gathered under the ReCork programme launched by Sole in 2008. Collected from bars’ restaurants and grocery stores in Canada and America, the corks are ground down to make the soles. Laces are also made from recycled materials, while the uppers use ethically sourced merino wool, lining is from salvaged bison hair, and the insole is repurposed sugar cane.

Software reviews lack taste

There has been a mixed response to a piece of software capable of writing wine reviews. A group of researchers has developed the tool which produces results similar to those produced by human reviewers. The programme could be applied to a variety of areas, but the researchers chose wine for their trial because of the limited vocabulary used. They also used beer reviews to conduct a trial, which asked readers whether they could distinguish between reviews written by humans or generated by machine. Most were unable to do so. The problem for this method of review is that the programme is unable to taste the wine. At L’Art du Vin, we take great care to taste everything before we comment. And there are no plans to change that!

Hunt for Hungarian hand-pickers

As is the case with many other countries, the wine industry in Hungary is suffering from a shortage of grape-pickers. However, while lack of movement during the pandemic has been blamed in some cases – and Brexit has been pinpointed for issues in Britain – the issue in Hungary rests with the fact that most of the grapes used in the country’s sweet Tokaji Aszu wine are hand-picked by elderly women. Some people suggest that this has happened because women are more patient when it comes to picking the shrivelled grapes that go into the wine. Now, though, many of those who have worked among the vines for years are reaching retirement age. As they leave, they take with them a lifetime’s knowledge and experience. Finding replacements among the younger population depends on levels of pay and job satisfaction, including the need to work in poor weather. While the shortage of pickers is bad news for Tokaji makers, it is boosting production of Hungary’s other wines, where hand-picking is not essential.

Price rises dent machinery markets

The impact of high energy costs, and supply change issues are a problem for all industries. The inevitable consequence is higher costs. For many in the wine industry that can mean hanging on to equipment longer than would normally be the case. There’s evidence of that happening in France, where companies involved in producing agricultural equipment are predicting a fall in their sales, and the impact of that on agricultural production. Winemakers who do pay the higher prices for equipment will have to wait longer to receive the items and will pass the costs on to customers. The situation may also affect business plans, with many vineyard owners reconsidering whether to proceed with new winery construction projects, which are now costing much more than they did in the recent past.

Burgundy lures gastronomes

With continental holidays back on the agenda for many people after two years of staycations, there’s a new attraction for food and wine lovers heading for the Burgundy region of France this summer. The Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie & du Vin opened early May in the town of Dijon. The museum includes a wine cellar which offers more than 250 wines by the glass, as well as tasting and cooking sessions led by experts, many of them in English. Dijon is around 90 minutes from Paris by train and the new museum will boast a 125-bedroom hotel from 2023 for those looking to make the most of their visit.