The Hochheim vineyards are situated, as I have previously indicated, on the banks of the Maine, several miles above its confluence with the Rhine. There is one exceptionally fine Hochheim growth which comes from the vineyard of the "Dechanei," or deanery. True Hochheimer is a remarkably aromatic wine, and possesses both body and fire. Indeed, it contains as large a percentage of alcohol as the so-called noble Steinberger - the most spirituous of the Rhenish growths - with more sweetness. It consequently lacks that subdued acidulous freshness of flavour which is such a marked characteristic of the wines of the Rheingau.
Some reference to sherry and port is necessary, because they are both types of wines that are widely known, and consequently any remarks concerning them are of value by comparison. It would appear that with most sherry, and certainly with all port, there is an addition of alcohol to the wine. Even the wines which are sold in England under the name of "natural sherry" contain from 13.2 to 15.5 percent, of alcohol. Beyond all question, therefore, from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 per cent, of alcohol must have been added, for no "natural sherry" should ever contain more than 12 per cent. of alcohol. Some sherries, however, have been introduced with an alcoholicity of from 12 to 13'6 per cent., with the following characters: The taste is freely vinous, rich, pure, mellow, and quite free from heat or the taste of added spirit. But fashion has much to do with the type of sherry in request; thus the colour has varied from time to time. In the same way, too, a taste for dry sherries arose with the Manzanilla epoch, only to be carried to excess. As with all other wines, a certain age in sherry is desirable; the ethers become developed during this period, and impart a rich flavour to it. In the course of time, however, sherry falls off so much that it is only fit for giving flavour to young wine.
In the matter of port, also, it may confidently be asserted that not a single drop is sold that does not contain a certain amount of added brandy. That is to say, all port wine, without exception, is brandied. The effect of the brandy is to keep the wine quiet; it prevents it from undergoing any fermentation; and, what is more, it keeps it from changing, no matter whether the climate be hot or cold. Messrs. Thudicum and Dupre state that a perfectly natural port has 9 per cent. of alcohol as the lowest, and 13.8 per cent. as the highest limit.
A sample of Alto Douro wine submitted to these gentlemen, although it was slightly alcoholised, yet possessed the following desirable qualities : it was fine, because it was derived from the finest and ripest Alto Douro grapes, the Verdeilho and Bastardo; it was full, owing to its great vinosity and high amount of natural alcohol, yet free from adventitious syrup; and it was pure, because free from all those faults which depreciate so many southern wines, such as the fousel flavour, or the burning taste of distilled spirit. Besides all these great qualities, it characteristically possessed the very essence of an ideal port wine flavour - without the saccharine and spirituous taste commonly found in port wine - and it had a natural smooth astrin-gency such as pleases the palate and imparts keeping qualities.
Moreover, it was very unlike the artificial sweet and burning products commonly called port wine. It was thoroughly fermented, and contained such a minute quantity of grape sugar that the latter could not be possibly detected by the taste. It was perfectly dry, and thereby differed entirely from ordinary port wines, which contain from 2 to 6 per cent. of sugar. Its alcoholicity was certainly below all the port wines usually sold. With all these desirable qualities, therefore, it possessed high dietetic and hygienic virtues, and refreshed the system like Burgundy or Medoc wine.
It will be convenient to make reference here to two terms about which there is a great deal of confusion. It is the difference between the "aroma" and the "bouquet" of wine. Now, the Settimana Vinicola has recently well observed that although these two are usually supposed to be the same, yet they are entirely different. The aroma of a wine is altogether distinct from those agreeable and delicate odours known by the name of " bouquet." For instance, some American grapes have what is called a "foxy" smell, and the wine prepared from them has this aroma, which is perceptibly disagreeable. Aroma pre-exists in certain grapes, and during vinification will pass into the resulting wine. On the other hand, perfume, the bouquet of the French, as it has been pointed out by Professor G. Grazzi-Soncini, is the complex sensation produced simultaneously on the palate and nose, owing to the intimate connection between these two organs, and which has already been referred to. This bouquet is due to the action of the ethers, which are formed during the life of the wine. The Corriere del Villagio remarks, in addition to the preceding, that there is a chemical difference between the "aroma" and the "bouquet" of wine. The former is produced chiefly by one or more carburets of hydrogen, and their oxidation derivatives. The bouquet, however, results from the admixture of aldehydes with one or more essential oils and various ethers, produced by combination of fatty and other acids with ethylic and other alcohols, and from these changes result the different ethers which constitute the bouquet of wine.
One of the most valuable books published on vine-growing and wine-making is that by the justly celebrated Dr. Jules Guyot. The greater part of one particularly important chapter is wholly taken up with the most graphic and lucid description of wine-tasting with which we are acquainted. Besides this, it contains such an amount of information on the subject, that no remarks in this connection would be complete without reference to it. For the following vivid rendering of a good deal of this very chapter I am very much indebted to my friend Br. John Steel, of Sydney : -