Thursday, April 05, 2012

a british opinion on canadian wine, 1965

Penguin Book of Wines

One series of paperbacks I've picked up at fundraising book sales over the years is Penguin's food handbooks.  Small, rarely more than 50 cents a copy, and ranging in subjects from haute cuisine to proper freezing techniques, they're food guides designed for reading instead of gawking. Aimed at a British audience, there are occasional nods to North America, such as a brief look at our fermented grape industry in Allan Sichel's 1965 guide The Penguin Book of Wines.


Canada merits an entire page in the "Non-European Wines" section. Based on Sichel's description, interest in Canuck wines was educational, as none were available in the UK:

Canadian wine will be of little practical interest to readers, because it is sufficient only for home needs and none is exported. It is interesting to the student, because of the well-documented experiments that are taking place in Ontario at the Vineland Horticultural Experimental Station. They range from long-term investigations into the best variety of wine for the Ontario Niagara Peninsula area, where most of the vineyards are, to artificial methods of producing the Jerez flor on the wines destined to make Canadian sherry. The whole concept of Canadian wine-making is progressive and bold.
Vintage Ad #1,534: That Bright Touch
A "home need" usage of Canadian wine, as suggested in the April 1949 edition of Reader's Digest.

Sichel notes that most Canadian wines were either made from Concord grapes (Vitis labrusca) or French hybrids that vintners tried to develop new strains of to remove their "foxy" unpleasant taste. "The adventurous approach of the Canadian to his wine," Sichel writes, "is suggested also by the amount of flavoured wines which are sold and the existence of British Columbia wineries, making wine from loganberries. Whether this has anything to do with efforts to get rid of the 'foxy' taste of hybrids, I do not know."

Unfortunately Sichel would not provide any future thoughts on Canadian wines, as he died the year the book was published. One wonders if authors of later editions would have commented on Canada's most popular vino of the following decade, Baby Duck.


1 comment:

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