Here are some of my favorite wine stories from the past month. The best wine glass? You may have to remortgage the house to buy four of the very best! BC Wines Shine? What this man did for California wine he now does for BC Wine? 2019 BC Wine of the Year? Small Naramata winery is building quite a reputation – but you may be too late to pick up their award winning Syrah. To Cold Soak or not to cold soak? Modern winemakers are reconsidering. Making Wine in a Limited Space? Winemakers can make just about any space work!
Hope you enjoy these:
- The Best Wine Glasses for Every Kind of Wine Drinker, According to an Expert.
- B.C. Wines Shine in Blind Tasting Against Established Old World Vines.
- Small Okanagan Winery’s 2017 Syrah Wins 2019 B.C. Wine of the Year.
- Modern Winemakers Are Rethinking Cold-Soaking as Wine Science (and Pinot Noir) Evolves.
- Making Wine In A Limited Space.
The Best Wine Glasses for Every Kind of Wine Drinker, According to an Expert
Epicurious magazine had a certified sommelier test 6 well-regarded wine glasses to find the best ones for special occasions and Tuesday evening sipping. See the full article here:
BY ELIZABETH SCHNEIDER EPICURIOUS
I guess we should start with the most important question: Does a glass really make a difference to a wine’s taste? After copious research and testing, I can tell you that glassware does matter to your enjoyment of wine. Certain glass shapes and materials do enhance wine’s aroma and flavor—and some even detract from it!
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The Best All Around Wine Glass: Zalto
Zalto is widely considered the gold standard of glassware by wine connoisseurs and professionals alike. It is made of mouth blown, non-leaded crystal; it’s incredibly light; and it’s shaped like a piece of art. It’s beyond fragile and using this glass is a bit unnerving, but in test after test with wine after wine it not only allowed the wine to express itself, but in many cases it made the wine taste better than all the other glasses.
Although this is technically a Burgundy glass, I found that it improved a variety of wines almost universally. From white and red Burgundy to white and red Bordeaux, Italian white to California rosé, Chilean Pinot Noir to Spanish Rioja, the Zalto glass improved the naturally occurring aromas and flavors of each wine effortlessly. But to go a step further, the amazing thing about the Zalto is that it seems to elevate the wine’s subtleties and nuances, introducing new or stronger positive aromas and flavors that the other glasses don’t. For instance, you may get notes of an old medieval church incense and black pepper in a northern Rhône Syrah with the Zalto, but just an herbal note from other glasses (I know it’s crazy but it’s true).
The Best Glass for the Normal Wine Drinker: Spiegelau Vino Grande
This little glass (owned by Riedel now, though it was once their biggest competition!) outperformed much more expensive glasses with its thin rim, excellent bowl for swirling, and ability to concentrate aromas. The red and white glasses are thin but it felt sturdy enough that I never worried about breaking it and it goes into the dishwasher and comes out in one piece. For the money, these glasses are the little engine that could.
A Guide to the Four Shapes
You don’t need a glass for every region or grape but depending on what and how you drink, there are four standard glass shapes you should consider. The combination of these shapes plus the cost, fragility, wash-ability, and comfort in holding and drinking will be the keys to getting the best wine glass for you.
The White Wine Glass
Shaped like a tulip, this glass has a round bowl and goes straight up before tapering slightly at the top. The bottom of the glass allows you to swirl without spilling but the real magic of a white wine glass is that it concentrates aromas of the wine at the rim, and traps them slightly so we can sniff the (hopefully) delicious things the wine has to offer.
The standard white glass is a bit smaller than the red: since whites don’t need as much aeration (swirling) they’re smaller. Also, whites are almost always served colder than reds. Pouring smaller quantities into the glass will ensure that what you have in the glass always stays at a cool temperature. This glass type will work for almost all white wines, except for fuller whites like oaked Chardonnay and white blends from the Rhône Valley, for example.
The Burgundy Glass
Shaped a bit like an upside-down mushroom, these glasses have wide bowls and then taper at the top to a narrow rim. The huge bowl allows for tons of swirling. With reds and the fuller whites, you want to introduce a lot of air into the wine. The swirling motion jostles the esters and aldehydes in wines, which are the things that make the juice smell so good. In very aromatic, but less mouth-drying tannic reds, you want to concentrate the aromas at the rim of the glass to maximize the intensity of smell compounds your nose can sense. The wider base allows room to swirl (you should never fill these glasses above the bulge in the glass or it’s spill city) but the top ensures that delicate aromas of red Burgundy (Pinot Noir), Beaujolais (Gamay), or Nebbiolo, for instance, aren’t lost.
The Bordeaux Glass
This is a giant version of the tulip shape we find in the white wine glass, although it tapers less at the top. The relatively straight sides of this glass and large bowl allow air to penetrate before, during, and after swirling, allowing harsh tannins to dance with the oxygen and soften up—exactly what you need to enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux blend, a Rioja from Spain, or a Syrah from the northern Rhône of France.
The Champagne Flute
This is actually quite a controversial opinion among wine snobs: Flutes are festive, fun, and they do, in fact, help keep the sparkle in your glass for longer. There are some practical issues with them (unless you drink sparkling a lot, they gather dust; if you have a beak like mine, that can be an issue for drinking; and the dork argument—there’s no room for swirling) but I love enjoying sparkling out of them and I drink enough of it to have them around. Still, they are optional. A white wine glass works just as well.
I could (and have) waxed poetic about how absolutely essential serving temperature is to the aroma and flavor of wine. If it isn’t something you currently consider when drinking and you actually like wine, thinking about this will revolutionize your drinking experience. There are all sorts of charts and recommendations for temperatures at which you should drink wine—I have a whole page of them in the appendix of Wine for Normal People because it’s that important. The gist is that we serve whites way too cold—they should be out of the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes in most cases before drinking, and reds are served WAY too warm—they should not be sitting out on a counter in your home which is likely 70˚° F but should be chilled to 50–55° F in most cases and in the rare case about 60˚° F.
The best and only way to compare glassware is to pour a small sample into each glass, and compare the following factors:
- Aroma. How does the glass enhance or suppress (or in some cases, ruin!) the aromas of the wine. There was a marked difference in the experience of the wine depending on the glass, so the answer to the age-old question: does glassware matter is: HECK YES!
- Flavor. Although it really followed the line with aroma since most of flavor is driven by our sense of smell, we did check to see if the flavor differed based on the glass and if that was different from the aroma (spoiler alert: no, so that means aroma alone was enough to make a judgement on quality of the glass).
- Fragility/comfort in your hand. This matters way more than I thought it would. The fact is, that although two of our absolute favorite glasses over-performed again and again, the wispy-ness of the glasses and the feeling that you could destroy it if you held onto the stem too hard or put it down in the wrong way did affect the experience of the glass and made it harder to enjoy the wine. In the end, you do make a compromise between fragility and sturdiness; delicate glasses made wine taste better but owning a sturdier, less expensive option for everyday use relieves anxiety.
- Rim thinness/material. The rim is the place where your mouth makes contact with the wine. Although this may be something we only think about sub-consciously, a thin rim will mean less interference, less material to come between you and the wine at the point where you first taste it. The thinner the rim, the more you can concentrate on the wine and not on the glass. How do you get a thin rim? Usually by using crystal, which is a stronger material than glass, so it can quite thin without breaking. There is a huge difference in the experience of drinking out of a big thick glass and a skinny thin one.
- Ease of cleaning. If you drink a lot of wine, you know that clean-up is a really important factor. Although we’d all love to painstakingly clean our wine glasses by hand, dry them with a specialized micro-fiber towel, and set them in a well-lit display case for all to see their spotless gleam, most of us have jobs, many of us have families, and none of us want to waste time cleaning wine glasses at the end of the night. If it’s hard to care for a glass, that factors into its overall goodness.[/expand]
B.C. Wines shine in blind tasting against established old world vines
BY SYDNEY MORTON GLOBAL NEWS
It was a judgement of great weight: a blind tasting of 24 of B.C.’s most well-known wine varietals against 16 international benchmarks. Riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah were sniffed, swirled and sipped in the final Judgement of B.C., modelled after 1967’s Judgement of Paris that put Californian wine on the map.
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The man who did it all those years ago, seated at the head of the table, was Steven Spurrier. “I did that to get recognition for California wines, I did not expect them to win,” said Spurrier. “I wanted to get recognition for what they did and what they have going on and what has happened here is recognition — plus, plus, plus.”
He’s returned to B.C. five years after the first Judgement of B.C. to measure how far Okanagan wine has come and he sees the province’s whites and reds as the next big thing. “B.C. is the here and now,” he said. “It really is the perfect combination of grape expression and the expression of the grape varieties you are planting and I have always described B.C. as the old world of the new world, because the new world is always trying to do something different.
“You (British Columbians) are doing what I think the old world has done, but rather better.”
B.C. stood out of the bouquet of deep burgundies, aromatic rieslings and crisp chardonnays.
“We have a very, very unique climate and we have a fine terroir and a very unique one, so we have all the right elements for making great wine,” said DJ Kearney, wine judge. “But we are pretty new and we are young at it and it’s very important that we are being introspective and looking at what we do and looking at it in the context of established fine wines.”
The three winners, who beat out their old world counterparts, were Arrow Leaf Cellars, Meyer Family Vineyards and Tight Rope Winery.
Wine professionals came in from around the world to take part in the blind tasting, a boost to an already robust sector which now boasts 281 grape wineries and 929 vineyards across the province.[/expand]
Small Okanagan winery’s 2017 Syrah wins 2019 B.C. wine of the year
BY DOYLE POTENTEAU GLOBAL NEWS
Posted October 5, 2019 12:16 pm
A small winery in the South Okanagan, Deep Roots Winery, won B.C.’s wine of the year for 2019 with its 2017 Syrah. Bryan Hardman doesn’t know what business will be like for the next couple of weeks, but it’s safe to say it’ll be booming. That’s what happens when your wine is named B.C.’s best.
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This week, Deep Roots Winery’s 2017 Syrah was named wine of the year at the 2019 B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards in Kelowna.
Hardman, who owns Deep Roots with his wife, Deb, and son, Will, called it a big win. Will, who is the winemaker, was in Kelowna to accept the award, along with a platinum medal for the winery’s 2016 Parentage Red, a gold medal for its 2017 Malbec plus a bronze medal for its 2017 Cabernet Franc and 2018 Parentage White.
The benefit of winning a big award is increased attention. Canadian wine lovers are always looking for new flavours, new brands to try, and Deep Roots will likely now be top of mind for many.
“We’ve got a fair amount of Syrah left,” said Hardman, who has experienced an upswing in sales, including eight cases overnight. Those eight cases overnight, “that’s unheard of for us.” “We’re so small; we only do about 3,500 cases a year. We’re just a little family-run winery.” The Okanagan winery is located in Naramata, and is small, with just 20 acres. But size means nothing in the wine business; what matters is taste.
And by that account, Deep Roots is becoming a notable player on the ever-growing provincial wine scene.
The winery has won awards before, such as silver medals at the national Wine Align Awards in 2016 for its 2014 Syrah and 2017 for its 2016 Gamay. That 2014 Syrah was also named the best red wine of the year at the 2016 All Canadian Wine Championships.
Hardman’s family has been farming the same plot of land for approximately 100 years. His grandfather bought the property just after the First World War. Notably, Hardman said they used to provide grapes for other wineries, but those contracts were cancelled six years ago. The winery produced its first vintage in 2012, with the business opening its tasting-room doors in 2014.
“We’re in our sixth selling year going into our eighth vintage,” said Hardman. “But I’ve been growing grapes for almost 25 years.” So, really, having those contracts being cancelled has turned out to be a boon for Deep Roots. “A very good decision, yes,” said Hardman. “And who was to know that my son was going to turn out to be such a good winemaker?” “Right out of the gate, he’s done a wonderful job for us, and we’ve been picking up awards since the day we’ve opened. But nothing as major as this (win).”[/expand]
Modern Winemakers Are Rethinking Cold-Soaking as Wine Science (and Pinot Noir) Evolves
BY ZACH GEBALLE VINEPAIR
Like most things in wine, cold-soaking — a technique used to extract flavors and aromas while minimizing harsh tannins — is the subject of contemporary debate. While some winemakers feel it is an invaluable way to develop desirable flavors, others say it’s both inefficient and ineffective.
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The origins of cold-soaking are a bit murky, but one generally accepted history suggests the practice rose to prominence in Burgundy in the 1970s. As the story goes, cold temperatures around harvest time meant wines naturally cold-soaked: In the era before temperature-controlled wineries and stainless steel tanks, if it was cold outside the winery, it was cold inside the winery and the tanks. As a result, fermentation often took several days.
Today, the commonly cited rationale for cold-soaking grapes is to deepen the color while avoiding over-extracting tannins. The two are closely connected, as pigment molecules, known as anthocyanins, commonly bond with tannins during the maceration process.
“The standard thinking is that the cold-soak period favors anthocyanin extraction as opposed to alcoholic extraction, which favors tannin extraction,” David Ramey, winemaker, Ramey Cellar, says. And so winemakers in regions that produce tannic reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, such as much of California and Australia, often favor cold-soaking.
Now, however, as we learn more about the complex science of winemaking, there’s some skepticism about the actual advantages of the practice. Dr. James Harbertson, Associate Professor of Enology at Washington State University and an expert on tannins, believes that “the benefits are really about aroma.”
“The origins of cold-soaking are actually from white wine production,” he says. “In white wine production you’re attempting to get a bit of flavor from the skins, which is carried to an extreme in orange wine production. The danger for white wine production is you pick up phenolics, bitterness, and oxidation with more skin contact, but the benefit is more aroma.”
That might help explain why Pinot Noir was the initial red grape to receive the cold-soak treatment; in many ways Pinot Noir is closer to a white grape than a red grape, it’s naturally low in pigment and is defined more by aroma than color, all characteristics that cold-soaking would help to enhance.
Instead of just relying on temperature-controlled tanks or wineries, producers like Ramey are starting to experiment with using dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, as the means of cooling down their grapes. “We’re in our second year of experimenting with dry ice,” Ramey says. “It has several effects: It cools the must quickly, it tends to exclude oxygen, which I’m opposed to in white juice but not opposed to in red juice, and when you’re sprinkling dry ice onto the berries, the carbon dioxide ruptures some of the grape skin cells and facilitates the release of pigment into the juice.”
Harbertson is dubious that cold-soaking is useful in most cases. “The story that’s told is that you get pigment without tannin, but the reality is that anthocyanins are water-soluble and are super easy to extract,” he says. “Thin-skinned grapes like Pinot Noir and Grenache are outliers, but for something like Cabernet Sauvignon, you don’t need to do it.”
This is an important point because cold-soaking is not without its risks and costs. One primary concern is the heightened chance of spoilage.
“Several strains of wild yeast that can produce funky and unpleasant aromas live on the outside of the grape, and they can tolerate colder temps and small amounts of sulfur dioxide,” Harbertson says. “It takes a lot of electricity to cold-soak, or you can use dry ice, which is just a greenhouse gas turned solid, but no matter what, it will cost you time, money, or something.”
With the allure of deep color and silky tannins still going strong, it’s an investment many winemakers continue to make. For now.
Published: November 3, 2019[/expand]
Making Wine In A Limited Space
WRITTEN BY ANNE LOUISE BANNON WINEMAKING MAGAZINE
The running gag around our place is that you’ve heard of a microbrewery or microwinery? Well, we have a nanowinery. Our winery is so small (how small is it?) we have to step outside to change our minds. Okay, you’ve heard the jokes, but let’s be real. Not every home winemaker has the luxury of a full basement, or a large workshop, or any other decent-sized room with a sink, even temperatures and lots of shelving that can be dedicated to just making and aging wine. In fact, for a lot of folks, if you can get any dedicated space, at all, you’re doing well.
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“I live in quite a small home in Philly,” said Joe McAteer, who also runs the Philadelphia Home Brew Club, a group that enjoys all kinds of fermentation activity, including wine, beer, cheese and even dried sausages. “Everything’s shared in this house.” he says, “I have two little girls.”
And while his biggest challenge is finding time when his daughters are otherwise occupied so that he can get some winemaking done, he doesn’t work with fresh grapes simply because he doesn’t have the space to put them, even in his basement, where he’s building some wine racks for extra storage capacity.
“I would really like to,” he said about working with fresh grapes rather than kits. “But it’s the lack of space and the additional equipment, and that’s not cheap at all. You’re talking about a wine press. It would be nice to get the barrel, and that is a lot of space.”
Small kits are extremely convenient for apartment dwellers, since a bucket and a carboy don’t take up that much space. But finding space for the work of winemaking can be a little challenging, whether it’s racking or bottling or even filtering. McAteer said that he pretty much takes over the kitchen when he’s working – possibly why he doesn’t want his young daughters around when he’s racking or bottling.
Then there’s the additional problem of ambition outstripping the space you have. The more wine you make, the more space you need to store it and the equipment. McAteer talked with awe about his friend’s basement, which is as big as McAteer’s house. The friend also has a separate space in the basement for aging wine, beer, cheese and sausages. “One whole section dedicated to aging,” McAteer said wistfully.
Whether you simply want to make 50 gallons of one or two varieties or make as many different varieties as you can get grapes — our household record is 13 in one harvest season — finding enough space to house that barrel or all those carboys can be a challenge.
Our house, for example, was built in 1925, when life was simpler and people simply didn’t have quite so much stuff, and so there’s not a lot of storage here. We have a one-car detached garage, the back of which is dedicated to my husband’s winemaking operation. It’s expanded a bit since the days my daughter still lived with us and Michael had to share the garage with my office. Even then, I spent more than a couple harvest seasons with fermenters bubbling away in front of my desk. All those fumes made interviewing people really interesting.
Since I moved my office into my daughter’s room, we were able to give Michael some extra floor space, but not much. The winery is still barely 9 feet (~3 m) wide, not including the shelving, which is shared with all the boxes of books that we don’t have shelf space for in the house. The winery also includes a large metal chest that houses our media collection. Carboys are lined up in front of the shelves and on the small desk in the back, and under the desk and we did find room for a small wine fridge and a small chest freezer that Michael adapted for cold soaking. The front of the garage is mostly storage for everything else we need to store, although Michael managed to squeeze in a few extra fermenters last harvest season.
Home winemaker Kathryn Chalfan uses a crawl space under her home in Bellevue, Washington. Because the house backs up onto a hill, the section she uses is 8-feet (2.4-m) high, but it’s still barely 6 by 22 feet (1.8 x 6.7 m). “We have a workbench by a daylight window,” she said. Plastic tarps cover some of the dirt piles, and there’s shelving and just enough room for a styrofoam hot box that’s 4 by 8 feet (1.2 x 2.4 m). She decided to use her crawl space by happy accident, when she had to install a drain to prevent flooding under the house as it was. Then one of her two winemaking partners asked if they could store some carboys in the space and she decided to finish it and use it as a winery.
“It’s thermally very stable,” she said about the small space. “We were in the garage, but I didn’t like having my car out of the garage.” But because the space is tight in the crawl space, it does present a problem when she and her two partners try to work together. “People have fallen on something,” she said. “One night after we got through with some major racking activity, we were tired.” Carboys were stacked all over and Chalfan didn’t realize there was one right behind her. “I backed up and I stumbled and I fell and I broke my fall with my hand, so I didn’t get sliced on my buns,” she said.
But she did have to go to the hospital to get her hand stitched up. They were able to rescue most of the wine, too.
Safety issues aside, storage is also a big issue in tiny wineries, whether it’s equipment or aging wines.
“Storage is an issue any time I’m making wine,” said Mark Wasserman, a home winemaker in the process of going professional. He recently moved to a home with a two-car garage, but prior to that, was making wine in a rented condo in Los Angeles that only had a one-car garage.
“We’re supposed to park one car in the garage, with one on the street,” he said about his current home. “But I end up taking over the garage and not parking any cars in the garage.” His space situation was even tighter in the condominium, where he often ended up leaving the car out of the garage and simply putting all his winemaking gear in the middle.
Laura Arbacus, owner of Arbor Wine & Beer Making Supplies in Islip, New York, makes wine at home in her apartment. And while she says that you don’t need as much space as you think to make wine, you do sometimes have to be a little creative about where to put stuff. She suggests housing a carboy inside a fermenting bucket, with the rest of your testing equipment and tubing neatly tucked inside to make a little caddy.
Arbacus insisted that the need for a large amount of space is a misconception. With some creativity and especially if you’re using a kit, winemaking need not take up more space than a fermenting bucket does. That being said, she said that if you’re going to make more than 6 gallons (23 L) of wine at a time, whether from fresh grapes or a kit, you’re going to have to find room for multiple carboys.
“I started making them part of my decoration in my apartment,” she said about the multiple carboys with airlock scattered about her place. “I store them under my coffee table, next to my kitchen counter, on my kitchen counter.” She also stores empty bottles in the cases they came in, stacked one on top of each other. For storing her wine, she has several small wine racks that people have given her over the years scattered around her place, in which she keeps filled bottles. She also puts filled wine bottles back into the case they came in, then stacks the cases.
“Bottling, that is a bit of a pain in the neck,” she conceded.
We also re-use almost all of our bottles, filling in for those bottles we give away with commercial bottles that we sanitize and re-use after drinking the contents. It does make storage interesting, especially with cases stacked everywhere. But Michael has cut down a couple pallets to make putting the cases of aging wine in the two-foot high crawl space under our house – probably our best option for temperature control, as well, in our Southern California heat.
If you own your home, it’s a lot easier to install shelving in a closet or garage, but those who rent can’t always. Renters also face another concern – spillage and the possibility of wine stains causing them to lose their cleaning deposit.
“I was worried about the heat, worried about spilling on the floor, worried about the smell, worried that I could legally do it or not,” Wasserman said about his prior rented home, adding that he wasn’t sure his landlord would be okay with winemaking. “But, basically, I did it for three years and I made sure to clean up after I was done and when I left, I left it clean.”
McAteer owns his house, but still doesn’t want stains all over his home. He said he bottles and racks in his kitchen, where there’s tile, and puts a towel down to catch spills. Arbacus uses plastic carboys and carboy handles to prevent spillage from a shattering carboy. There are still dark stains on our living room floor from the last time a carboy broke during malolactic fermentation.
Good organization is also key to keeping a small space workable. “It really is more efficient to have that organization,” Wasserman said, adding that in his current space, he has shelving and “a home for everything.”
“You plan out your day and make sure you have everything ahead of time,” said McAteer. “It’s really important to be sure you have everything ahead of time and make sure it’s sanitized ahead of time.”
Our winery is probably one of the best organized spaces on the property, except for our kitchen. It makes moving around a small space easier, as well.
And some operations simply have to be done elsewhere. Chalfon may do the actual racking in her crawl space, but one of her group is usually running carboys back and forth between the garage and the kitchen to clean them. Michael will often bottle in the kitchen. Grapes are pressed on the patio (we are blessed with a good-sized yard). And fermenters go wherever there is sufficient shade, preferably the front section of the garage, but sometimes the western side of the house (which gets very little sun thanks to neighboring trees) gets a line up
Still, some people, like McAteer, find it hard to make room for even a bucket or a carboy and may decide to find other options. Working with friends or a wine club can help a lot, even if you do most of the work at home. Chalfan belongs to a club and says that she doesn’t need to store a lot of the heavier equipment because she checks out presses and other such equipment from the club’s stores. McAteer is going to join a group of friends who all work together each spring and fall on a single large load of about 600 pounds of grapes.
“If you’re going to put in the effort you may as well make a lot of it,” McAteer said. “If you have a lot of people, then everybody gets 10 cases of wine.”
Another option is to go to a U-Vint or shop that specializes in providing the space and equipment to make wine, such as The Bacchus Winemaking Club, in Toms River, New Jersey.
“Essentially, we keep the mess out of your house,” said Shawn Hatton, general manager of the club.
But whether you ferment in a closet, or as we do, store your wine press on your coffee table as part of your décor, you can make wine in tight spaces. It just takes a little creativity and a lot of passion.
“If it’s a passion, you do whatever it takes,” Arbacus said of the predicament. “You make the space.”
You make the space even if it means seven carboys lined up in the living room so that they can finish malolactic fermentation. Or stepping around a hot box in a crawl space. Or a tiny space at the back of a garage. Because it’s worth it.[/expand]