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N'ENTREZ PAS, N'ENTREZ PAS.
often repeated on their authority, as undeniable facts) to be believed, it would not be doubted that it was a common custom in Burgundy for wine-growers and merchants to convert a portion of their wine into ice, in order to enhance the value of the remainder.
Notwithstanding these assertions, the fact seemed to me so questionable, that I would not have entered upon the subject had it not been lately brought forward in a report to our Government, by one of the gentlemen deputed to gain information as to the strengths of the wines of various countries.
In my visits to Burgundy, the freezing of their wine was never even alluded to by those who were giving me information ; and if it had been mentioned as a usual practice, I certainly would have expressed some astonishment as to the annual supply of ice and snow in that quarter ; I know, by experiments, that wine, unless very weak, requires intense cold to freeze even the surface; and it seemed strange that one should never have heard of the operation except in this district. Below is an extract from the report of the Government commissioner, Mr. Ogilvy, and, following this, is a letter from a friend in Burgundy, one of the very highest authorities in that country.
Extract from the Report of Mr. Ogilvy, Inspector
General of Customs. In Burgundy, the strength is also artificially increased, after the wine is made, by the process called “congelation, or freezing. Fornuerly, this operation was effected in the winter, during the frosty weather, by rolling the cask into the open air, opening the bungs, and covering the cask up with snow and ice; but this method, though cheap as regards the means of operating, often proved dear in the end, as the weather was uncertain, and if too cold, the wine froze too rapidly; and if the frost, as was frequently the case, suddenly broke up before the completion of the operation, the wine was spoilt. It has been found better, therefore, to freeze the wine by artificial means, by putting it in large tin vessels, which are immersed in a mixture of pounded ice and salt, and the operation is carefully watched, to prevent it being carried too far.
The principle on which this process is based is, that water freezes more readily than spirit or wine. The water naturally contained in wine is in part frozen, and thereby separated, when it is taken out and thrown away; by which the bulk of the wine is decreased, and all its properties are condensed, and made more perceptible; but as the bad qualities are condensed as well as the good, this operation is only useful in very fine and faultless wines.
Extract from a Letter of a Grower, dated Vósne, in the
Côte d'Or, June 21, 1863. The freezing of wine in the Burgundy district is of rare occurrence; and the few who have tried it express strong doubts as to its being beneficial.
The professed object is to increase the strength, by diminishing the watery part, which alone freezes, and it is naturally inferred that the portion unfrozen, and reduced in bulk, must contain a greater proportionate amount of alcohol.
It is alleged that the process rids the wine of the mucilage which is held in suspension, and thus protects it against fermentation, which might cause decomposition.
It is also stated that it renders it more full-bodied and strong; but experience has proved that this is invariably
THE FREEZING OF WINE.
effected at the expense of delicacy and of bouquet, which are essentially important elements in fine wines.
The only hope of a good result is by operating on high qualities during the winter after the vintage. Supposing there has been a good supply of ice and snow, a certain quantity of sea-salt is mixed with these, and after having placed about twenty gallons of wine in a tin vessel, well closed, this is covered over with the mixture, and in eight or ten hours the temperature of zero to 5° above zero, of Fahrenheit, is reached. Ice is formed in the interior of the vessel in greater or smaller quantities, according to the temperature; and, when it is considered that it has been continued long enough, the liquid wine is drawn off.
The ice which remains is of no value, for, when melted, it is colourless and tasteless. The wine is allowed to remain in cask till March or April, when it is fined, and treated like the rest in the cellar.
As in this process there is necessarily a great loss of quantity, perhaps even a fourth part, it would require such an improvement in the quality as to compensate the proprietor, by an increase of price, for the loss caused by the freezing ; but any improvement is very questionable.
It is a mistake to believe that the practice is general, for it is almost entirely limited to a few who wish to make the experiment from curiosity as to the result.
Although not having much reference to frozen wine for a commercial object, yet, as it is an interesting fact, I may mention that I have been informed, by
I one of the most distinguished Arctic navigators, that the degree of cold experienced by him on some occasions was more than 100° below freezing-point, and that his wine became a mass of ice, which, when melted, was found to have lost almost all the taste of wine.
I was not previously aware that sugaring was so common, and that there was not the slightest desire to conceal it. I was assured that in Paris, and in the north generally, the addition of sugar was preferred, as it gives an appearance of richness. But
as it is not the natural saccharine of the grape, it probably explains, in a great measure, why burgundies and the wines of this part of France, so often go wrong.' My friend's cellars and business
establishment in Nuits, are very spacious, and hold a splendid stock of all the wines of this and the neighbouring districts.
The preceding sketch of his Château shows what a delightful residence he has in Vôsne.
It is almost a loss of time to go into a cellar without making memoranda of every cask and bottle tasted, and I therefore made a point of invariably doing this, to gain knowledge, and for future refer
The following (without the prices) is a literal extract from my Note-book:
No. 1011. Beaune, 1858, very pleasant.
1012. Ditto, 1858, higher flavour, but hard.
895. Pommard, 1859, do not like.
to the Romanée.
(Mâcons and Beaujolais are so like that they
are sold one for the other.)