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What is "sack"?

Sack is the name for a fortified wine imported from Spain or the Canary Islands, which was much in vogue in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. The wine was famously extolled by Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II. The name’s derivation is disputed. It may be from sec, a French word for “dry”. Another theory is that it was derived from the Spanish word scar, meaning “to take” or “to get”, referring to wine exports. Often the place of production was put before the noun, as in Canary sack, Malaga sack or Serris (or Sherry) sack. From the end of the 17th century onwards, sherry began to replace sack as the generic term.

How many calories are in a glass of wine?

A serving of wine as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines is 5 ounces. Depending somewhat on the specific wine, a serving contains about 100 calories. There is zero fat in wine. By comparison, a 12-ounce serving of beer contains about 150 calories. A 1.5 ounce straight drink of distilled spirits totals about 100 calories, but if you have a mixed drink, it will have additional calories.

What does must weight mean?

Contrary to its name, must weight doesn’t have anything to do with the weight of grapes. Must weight is an important measure of grape ripeness. Since about 90% of all the dissolved solids in grape juice are the fermentable sugars, any measurement of these solids gives a reliable indication of the grapes’ ripeness, and therefore the potential alcohol of wine made from them. Must weight may be measured in the vineyard using a refractometer. A higher level of must weight means a higher level of ripeness.

Originally published in our Gold Wine Club's The Wine Press, Monterey Peninsula Winery edition.