Saturday, October 3, 2009

About Wine - Wine Storage and a new favorite white wine

Check out this awesome article about wine storage from Neil from ON THE GRAPEVINE.  He is so knowledgeable about wine and the care of wine that I think you will all enjoy this article.
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By far most wine is purchased and consumed within 48 hours. Some people of course like to cellar wine they think has a good potential to age. This is fraught with “danger” mainly because some wine has no chance at all of improving with age, some can be left too long and goes “over the hill” and some spoils because of bad storage conditions. (I usually end up with red or white wine vinegar not even good for cooking!)

Aging wine increases its complexity. Chemical reactions take place on storage which can add new aromas, flavours and texture to the wine. And of course there is the inevitable colour change. However, if left too long, all these changes can be indistinguishable.  Briefly as discussed before, white wines change to deeper colours, some to deep yellow or gold and eventually brown.  (This was a learning experience, wish I had know this a few months ago.)

Aromas and flavours lose their varietal character and become similar to toast, honey figs, nuts and caramel.  Red wines change colour too as they age from purple through brick red to red brown and finally brown.  Again with reds, flavours change taking on the impressions of earthiness, fungi, coffee and even cigars. Red wine tannins increase in size on ageing and become softer and less astringent allowing other subtle flavour changes to shine through.

For most of us who store wine, it is kept in racks or boxes in the cellar, under the house, in a cupboard or even under the bed. Very few of us have proper temperature controlled rooms or expensive cabinets.  Ideal conditions for storage of wine are darkness, good ventilation, odour free, lack of vibration, minimal temperature variation of 12°-15°C (55°-60°F) and humidity of 70-80%. 

Obviously not many of us can comply with all these conditions so if we were to single any major one out to be aware of I would say it would be temperature fluctuation. Darkness can easily be created by leaving the wine in its original boxes.

In the past, table wines needed to be stored lying down. This kept the cork wet and the bottle well sealed. With the advent of the screw cap bottles with this closure can be stored standing up, one of its many advantages. For bottles with cork closures it is important to keep an eye on possible leakage and the ullage level. This means if the level of the wine falls below the shoulder of the bottle it needs to be topped up and recorked (if still ok) or better drunk as soon as possible.

Arranging bottles so those for early drinking are easily accessible prevents ‘long termers’ from being continually moved and disturbed.

Buying wine for long term storage is a complex issue. (and this is why I buy, I drink, done!) It is sometimes best to take the advice of wine merchants, winemakers and wine reviews when deciding what to ‘lay down’. Of course it is more rewarding to assess a young wine as to its ageing potential yourself and being able to enjoy it 10, 20 or maybe 30 years down the track.

It is also preferable to be able to buy a case of the selected wine and assess its progress regularly over time eg. for a red, five years after purchase then every year or two.

This all can be an expensive exercise so there is nothing wrong with splurging on an aged wine from a retailer or winery when the occasion calls. At least you can be almost assured that the bottle has been stored under ultimate conditions and if indeed there is anything wrong with it you can usually get a replacement. ...( and that's what I do... buy already aged wine - lazy or practical, call it what you want!)

So tonight I was enjoying some fun time with my friend from Chesapeake and we decided to take a quick trip to Trader Joe's and found, yet another delicious Australian Wine.  It is a "classic Muscat  with fragrant aromas of apricots, mangoes and lilacs and sweet, luscious flavors balanced by a crisp, refreshing finish."

A white wine from South Easter Australia called Alice White.  It's like a dessert wine, goes well with any sweets or by itself.  We loved it and we paid ...ahem... $5.00.  Now that's what I'm talking about. 

Enjoy the tips on wine storage and enjoy Alice White!

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Past about wine  articles: