Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wine-down Wednesday- Myth #1

As part of 'Wine-down Wednesday' I will discuss a few 'Wine Myths' that can change one's perspective over what bottle you might choose for the next meal, or dinner party. As I took the photo above I realized decanting wine would be the perfect topic. As I watched the bar tender decant this fifteen year old Brunello, I then realized that by pouring wine into the glass and swirling it would give us an advanced aerated glass of wine to enjoy before our meal courses would begin to arrive.

Wine Myth #1- Letting Wine Breathe

Merely uncorking a bottle of wine and allowing it to sit for a bit will not allow the wine to breathe. This method is futile, as there is simply not enough room at the top of the bottle; it needs more surface area as it sits. Just the act of pouring wine does allow air to permeate, and thus the reason for the elongated necks of decanters.

So what's a Wine Lover to do?

You have two options: Decanter or Wine Glass

Typically mature red wines are the ones that benefit most from breathing before serving?

Yes, better quality and aged reds are often the culprits for decanting. I have experienced other reds that benefit from swirling, and as they sit they have opened up- if the wine is young with high tannin levels, it will need more time to aerate before enjoying. For example, a young Cab or Tempernello will likely require around an hour for proper aeration and flavor softening to take place. Drinking wines as soon as they have been uncorked cause 'Pucker Face' characteristics (tannins hitting interior cheeks), and are the reason many decide they are not 'Wine' drinkers. Most wines take on different characteristics as the room temperatures, and foods are eaten with them.

Lighter bodied wines such as Pinot Noir need less aeration time windows before serving. 

Tip: Eating a creamy cheese and coating your palate before tasting wine can help minimize 'Pucker Face'.

There are select whites that will also improve with a little air exposure. In general, most wines will improve with as little as 15-20 minutes of air time.

You can use a decanter, a flower vase (no residue), an orange juice carafe, whatever - any large liquid container with a wide opening at the top to pour your bottle of wine into. The increased surface area is the key to allowing more air to make contact with your wine. Surfaces must be cleaned well, no soap residue, or otherwise.
Is the glass important? Many restaurants are not just pouring the wine in the glass of the person who ordered the bottle to let you have a taste, but also have the intention of letting it aerate. This is certainly the low-maintenance method, and typically works quite well. Always swirl and wait before you drink!

Tip: Larger and deeper bowls on stemware will allow for more aeration. Pouring wine into glasses make sure that you pour into the center of the glass with a good 6-10 inches of "fall" from bottle to glass to allow for further aeration during the actual pour. (example: many restaurants offer small and cheap wine stemware, so if you see hubby and I sitting next to you with large glasses; it is not because we want more than our share!)

Many restaurant supplies sell to the public and offer a great variety of higher and lower end stemware for sale to the public! As little as $3 per glass. I often order them for clients and friends. Hint: if you swirl and wine has no room to lift up and come back down without leaving a stain on you or the floor, then buy glasses with larger bowls, or glasses with intentional use.

What is your favorite 'Wine Myth'? Do you have something that comes to mind you would like addressed here? I will leave comments on each concern below...