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Sat 30 Sep 2006 08:00 PM

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Wine affected by humidity

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Industry professionals are becoming increasingly concerned over the quality of wine found in restaurants and bars throughout the region. Although no one reason can be pinpointed, food and beverage managers and sommeliers believe that fluctuating temperatures, transportation, and the quality of the cork are affecting the wine.

Visiting Dubai for the first time, Steve Meckiff, viticulturist for Cape Mentelle, commented that transporting wine can be a problem, in part due to the change in temperature and humidity.

“If temperatures fluctuate more than plus or minus 6°C then you are going to have some problems. Wine becomes accustomed to a certain temperature, so if it continuously changes then the wine will be affected, and so will the cork,” warned Meckiff.

Meckiff went on to add that temperature changes have lead to corks moving in the bottle. Additionally, as the number of high-end cork producers has dwindled in recent years, poor quality cork is more susceptible to movement.

“Cork is a major issue, but the market is becoming more aware of this and are gradually moving onto screw tops instead, especially in New Zealand and Australia,” commented Jean-Marc Vettesi, sales manager, Emirates Fine Wine.

Using a logistics company that specialises in wine shipping, once it reaches Dubai the company then uses PWC Logistics to transport the wine to its warehouse in Jebel Ali. However, although they cannot monitor the shipment, Vettesi said that storing and serving the wine incorrectly is a problem in the region.

“There are less than a handful of good wine cellars in Dubai as too many places use strong lighting and air conditioning, which is not great for wines. Also, the restaurants are serving wine either too soon or not soon enough,” commented Vettesi.

“For example, a Riesling should be served within a year, whereas a Bordeaux should not. Wine needs time to settle, but with limited space and availability it is being sold too quickly,”

he added.

Although there is no short-term solution to prevent fluctuating wine quality in the region, from the producer to the restaurant manager all stages need to be monitored and maintained. However, Luca Gagliardi, chef sommelier, Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek, comments that as soon as wine leaves the winery, it begins to change.

“Wine is a living product, so regardless of the distance it will not travel well. It is wrong to transport a good vintage, but it is unavoidable,” said Gagliardi.

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