You may be one of the fortunate ones that are able to indulge in a glass of wine or two in the evenings. If this is the case, to get the best out of your wine here are some tips for getting the most enjoyment out of every glass, from the head buyer of a well-known wine company, Daniel Parrott.
Try not to open bottles the moment they arrive if you have ordered a case. A long journey can ake a wine appear what he calls “Dumb”. After a few days of rest , the flavors will be fully restored.
Keep your bottles out of the direct sunlight. Ideally keep the bottles in the dark, away from vibration and at a constant temperature ( any temperature above freezing and below 18 degree C or 64 F).
If a wine has a cork closure, it is best to lay the bottle horizontally to keep the cork moist and fully expanded and the bottle 100% airtight.
Corks versus screw caps
When the screw caps came into use I thought it was sacrilege, believing the cork could never be replaced. Since I have, many times, been in a situation where I have not had a cork removing utensil the screw cap has been a blessing. Of course the other benefit is that it makes the bottle so easy to reseal. It certainly outweighs any romance with the cork.
There are still millions of bottles of older wines under cork and often very brittle, so a good corkscrew is essential.
- It must have a comfortable grip
- It should employ counter pressure against the rim of the bottle to avoid that undignified struggle with the bottle between your knees.
- The best screw mechanism is an open spiral with a clear line of sight up the middle, to grip as much of the cork as possible.
- Decanting maximizes aromas and flavors in young reds – and a few whites
- It separates a wine from any sediment in the bottle. To check for this sediment, hold the bottle up to the light
- Generally, the denser the red wine – its color will help you judge this – the longer it will need to breathe.
- Crisp dry whites should be poured straight from the bottle, while rich, oaky whites will become more complex if they are allowed to ‘breathe’.
- If a wine is already mature, don’t let it breath for long – if at all
Whether at the bottom of the bottle or stuck to the cork sediment is a sign of naturalness and fullness. However sediment is not pleasant to drink so that is when decanting the wine is best.
- Stand the bottle upright before for at least 6 hours or preferably 24 hours before decanting so the sediment falls to the bottom of the bottle.
- Hold the bottle up to the light as you decant and pour in one smooth flow until you see the dark swirl of the sediment reach the neck.
- Stop pouring when you see the sediment reach the neck. Leave the rest of the liquids and solids in the bottle.
- Sommeliers (Wine professional) occasionally pour very old ports and reds through a coffee filter. Not appealing at the dinner table so he may do it out of sight
The shape of wine glasses is especially important, so when choosing glasses do it carefully.
- Clear glass is best for discerning hue and clarity – avoid colored or cut glass.
- Tulip – shaped glasses are ideal. What I call a feel good glass. The wide bowl exposes a large surface area of wine to the air and helps release aroma’s while the narrow opening funnels them up to your nose.
- Fill the glass just a third of the way, so you have plenty of room to swirl the wine around. This also helps to aerate the wine.
- For sparkling wine and champagne opt for a tall thin flute type glass. The aromas are finer and the wines effervescence will last longer.
When you are dining in a restaurant simply take a good sniff to decide whether a wine under cork is ok. If it smells musty or damp it is likely not in good condition.
If you take a sniff rather than a mouthful the sommelier may even worry that you are in the trade. It makes you more believable if you are not happy about the wine’s quality.