Sunday, May 12, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Say you are presented with a bottle of wine. If you are like most people you may wonder – “Should I pour this now, or store it for later?” If you decide to store it, the next question is always “How long?” It is time to play detective and find clues to help determine if you should pour or store. To make this judgment without tasting you will need to learn all you can about the wine’s history prior to release. If you missed Part 1 of Pour or Store, we will give you a moment to catch up. Ready? Let’s start looking for clues.
What is the wine made of? (Varietal Clues)
We know how important acid is to storing a wine, so we can infer that high acid varietals will store better than lower acid varietals. Chenin Blanc, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from cool climates are known for high acid. While not meant to develop into something better, they often remain “ready to drink” for a surprising number of years. Grapes like Viognier and Gewürztraminer have lower acidity and do not age well. Nebbiolo, a red Italian grape, is known for intense tannins and acid and requires time to develop.
What country and region is your wine from? (Origin Clues)
Varietals also present differently from different regions. A really buttery, oaky Chardonnay from a warm climate in
California or will probably not develop into something more pleasurable. It hangs its hat on primary (apple, lemon) and secondary (butter, oak) flavors. That is its style and the most you can hope is that it will not change. But a Premier or Grand Cru Chardonnay from Chablis (cooler and less sunny) will need 10 and 15 years of bottle age respectively. Australia
How “old” was your wine when you received it?
Keep in mind that some aging can happen before wines are released. This aging occurs in wood or stainless steel and sometimes after bottling. There can be tertiary flavors/aromas upon release. These wines are ready to drink AND have aging potential. Examples include Vintage Champagnes and some Classed Growth Bordeaux. The Rioja region of
will label some of their wines Crianza, Riserva, and Gran Riserva. These label clues indicate a progressive amount of required wood and bottle aging prior to release. One can open a newly released bottle of Gran Riserva and experience tertiary aromas and integration without the risk of holding the bottle. Spain
Check the vintage. Is it the current year? This wine did not require aging before release and is intended to be consumed young and fresh. It also means there will be another release next year, climate willing, so drink up. Examples include rosé wines and Vinho Verde and Beaujolais Nouveau. In fact Vinho Verde, which means “green wine” for “young wine” often, shows no vintage because you are supposed to drink it right away.
Where can you learn about your wine?
Winery websites often have valuable information about their winemaking techniques. This can help set expectations about quality and tell you how much aging occurred before release. Many wineries will also offer guidelines on how long to store their wines. Additional sources include cellar tracker and wine searcher.
Caring for your wine
Even wine that you have deemed pourable not storable requires proper storage. A short time in poor conditions can ruin your wine. We were at a restaurant and could not understand why our rosé wine wasn’t up to par. Then we noticed the bottles were stored on a mirrored shelf, with a mirrored wall behind, above light bulbs, and across from a sunny window – in
!!! New Orleans
For best results follow these guidelines:
1. Cool, constant temperature. (10- 15 C or 50-59 F)
2. Store wine on its side to keep the cork wet. This point is moot with screw cap and other non cork closures.
3. Keep away from the light.
4. Keep away from vibrations.
5. Don’t store wine in your kitchen. Just don’t.
Applying our pour or store tips you will find that most wines are simply ready to pour. For those storable bottles, do your homework, apply your new skills, and we hope you find future rewards.
|Borrowed from San Diego Wine Storage|
Sunday, April 7, 2013
So you find yourself the proud owner of a bottle of wine and want to know, “Do I pour it or store it?” Several readers have asked Tasting Pour how to answer this question. The answer is always “It depends…”
While it sits in the bottle, properly stored wine can only:
- Get better – changing or developing into something more interesting;
How do wines change (or develop) as they age?
Tannins make your mouth feel dry on the tongue, roof of the mouth, and along the gum line. Tannins can sometimes be overwhelming in youthful wines which are capable of long storage. I have heard it described this way . . . If the tannins make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth like peanut butter, then that bottle needs time to develop. Tannins, of course, play a larger role in red wines.
Flavor profile offers valuable clues. If more mature tertiary flavors dominate or if there is a balance of primary and tertiary flavors, that bottle is near its peak and has nowhere to go but downhill. Even so, remember that high acidity can help it remain fresh, so there is not always a need to panic.
When evaluating the flavor profile, fruit is important to consider. If the varietal or blend should be fruit dominant, yet you cannot smell or taste fruit, we say it is “tight”. Swirl it in your glass or consider decanting. If the wine does not “open up” revealing its fruit, but you detect a lot of tannins and acid, this wine likely needs to develop.
If fruit, tannins, and acid blast your palate in almost separate waves, we say the wine is not well integrated. If the individual aspects are strong, and the flavor profile has not shifted too far to tertiary flavors, this wine will likely improve over time and become more harmonious.
Simple, fruity wines with very little tannin and lighter acid should be thought of as a youthful fling. You know they won’t last, so go ahead and enjoy them now. Next year there will be another.
When considering a wine for aging you might ask yourself, “Do I like this wine and why?” If you like it because it is fresh and fruity then ask “Does it have enough acid to keep it fresh and fruity?” These wines will keep a few years but won’t improve. If you don’t like it because it does not have enough fruit then ask, “Is the fruit hiding behind the tannins?” If there is also lots of acid then maybe keep a bottle to try later and see if the fruit comes to the forefront.
One of our wine friends makes this suggestion . . . If you think a wine will improve over time, buy a case. Open one bottle a year to see how the wine develops. If you have enough scratch, this could be a fun experiment. I guess when you determine the wine is at its prime, you can open the rest of the bottles and have a party!
“But I only have one bottle!”
Don’t despair. While a little more risky, we can find clues about how a wine will develop without opening that one precious bottle. We will share those clues next week, along with some tried and true ways to properly store your wine.