Wine Culture and Information - Volume 13
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  Editorial Issue 25, December 2004   
To Age or Not To Age Wines?To Age or Not To Age Wines? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 24, November 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 26, January 2005

To Age or Not To Age Wines?


 Among the many letters we receive, there are lots of readers asking for advices or opinions about the longevity of the wine they own. It seems our readers, besides being sincere lovers of the beverage of Bacchus and always interested in a nice glass of wine, keep in their houses many bottles. Many of them have purchased these bottles both because of the exceptionality of the vintage as well as for the good occasion offered by a circumstance. Others received precious and valuable bottles as a gift, sometimes these bottles are wines inherited from relatives or simply part of the family ”heritage”. Many readers ask themselves about the conditions of the bottle they have always seen in their kitchen since they were kids and are often tempted to uncork, attracted both by curiosity and the hope the wine is still good.

 Moreover it seems many of those wines have been purchased in occasion of special events, such as the birth of a baby or the celebration of a wedding, always with the intent of uncorking that very same bottle many years later to celebrate the anniversary. It is however understandable to those bottles are recognized high affective meanings which remind of a particular circumstance, a specific event, a happy moment of live. For this reason the uncorking of the “special” bottle is postponed just because of the memory it represents, however the fear that wine, as years go by, loses its best qualities and therefore it is not drinkable anymore, is pretty strong. The fear that bottle, after many years spent inside a house, maybe kept in a not properly optimal way, makes people believe too many years have passed and it is not probably worth uncorking it anymore.


 

 If it is true not all people have rooms suited for the keeping of wine, in particular the ones who live in apartments of condominiums, it is also true most of the times even the most elementary precautions for a good keeping are being neglected. Often forgot in a shelf, exposed to light and to strong smells of kitchen, or hidden among other bottles in some furniture of the house, most of the times kept in vertical position, these bottles certainly do not have many possibilities to live long. The keeping of a bottle of wine requires the availability of good conditions of temperature, light and humidity, sometimes even the best conditions do not ensure a good longevity to wine, at least, not to all wines. Of course the lacking of such requisites drastically decreases the hope for a good aging of the wine in a bottle.

 The aging of wine in bottle is not determined by keeping conditions only. There are other factors which strongly influence keeping, such as vintage, variety of grape, area of production and, last but not the least, the way that wine was produced. White wines, with the exception of few, lose their best qualities after two or three years and the same can be said for rose wines. Even the longevity of sparkling wines is pretty short: after disgorgement begins their inexorable decay and after two or three years their qualities of freshness are seriously compromised in favor or a higher complexity not always appreciated by consumers. There is the general idea red wines are always and however suited for long aging times in bottle: indeed for most of the wines found in the market it is better to drink them within two or three years from vintage. Thanks to high percentage of sugar or alcohol, sweet and fortified wines are the ones which can stand better than others to the risks of a bad keeping, however when good conditions cannot be ensured, it is good not to exaggerate.

 In other words, the famous Italian saying “the more a wine ages the more it gets good” is not always true and however it is not valid for all wines. Wines suited for long aging times in bottle must be made with this specific purpose, provided they are however kept in places offering optimal conditions for keeping. When it is being decided to keep a bottle at home, that is a place which rarely offers ideal conditions, it is good to remember periods longer than three years are always to be considered as a risk. Of course we are not trying do discourage our readers by suggesting them not to keep wines at home. Indeed we are trying to have our readers remember the keeping of a wine is regulated by specific conditions which are not always possible to have in our houses.

 With the exception of understandable reasons of sentimental or affective nature for the bottles kept at home, most of the times the uncorking is postponed because of the fear the occasion is not sufficiently important or right. The uncorking of that bottle will be continuously postponed while believing time will however make that wine better. Most of the times, when finally the bottle is being uncorked, disappointment is the most common feeling. The magic of a special moment waited for years is vanished by a wine which is not in good conditions anymore because of a bad keeping or because it was not suited for aging. Saved the case you have a cellar suited for the aging of wines, our advice is to think twice before making the decision of keeping a wine. In case you have no cellar, the best advice we can give is to uncork the bottle when it is in its best conditions of appreciation and before it gets transformed into a disappointment. In other words, like Latins taught us, “live the moment” or in their words, “carpe diem”!

 



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 25, December 2004   
To Age or Not To Age Wines?To Age or Not To Age Wines? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 24, November 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 26, January 2005

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

I like white wines and I frequently invite my friends for a barbecue. Every time I offer white wines they all tell me that with barbecue it would be better to have red wines. Is it a mistake to offer white wines in such occasions?
Keith Carey -- Mendocino, California (USA)
Despite there are many theories about food-wine matching, often based on chemical and sensorial principles, it is good to remember these theories cannot take the place of personal taste. Enogastronomical matching - whose purpose is to confront it with the taste of people and to provide satisfaction - cannot be seen as an indisputable rule. Moreover, it should be remembered that sometimes wine-food matching is determined by traditional and cultural principles and that, apparently, do not have anything in common with science. Let's consider the famous saying ”fish goes with white wine” and we can understand common beliefs, even those having traditional roots, are usually considered as indisputable rules. Likewise it is believed meat must be necessarily matched to red wine. Indeed none of these two rules is absolute, because it is so evident fish can be well matched to red wines, as well as meat can be matched to white wine. Once again the problem is about common beliefs: red wines are always and however considered full bodied - therefore to be matched to a robust food such as meat - and white wines considered as delicate. This can be true only in general terms because there are very delicate red wines and full bodied white wines. Therefore we do not think offering white wines with barbecue can be a mistake: in case the wine was chosen according to how the meat was prepared, even white wines represents a good choice. Likewise not all red wines are good for barbecue, because, in case they are too robust, they could cover the organoleptic qualities of food, or just being useless in case they have not much body. The same can be said for any type of wine and for any type of food.



I read in your magazine about the difference between classic method and Charmat sparkling wines, and according to what I read, it seems in your opinion classic method sparkling wines are better. I had some Charmat sparkling wines and I found them very good, sometimes even better than many classic method sparkling wines. How can you explain this?
Delaney Figgins -- New York (USA)
Quality in wines is determined by many factors and the production technique is one of them. The same is true for sparkling wines. The adoption of a specific technique - classic method or Charmat method - is not enough in order to ensure a high quality result in case all the other factors were neglected. Area, grapes, climate, meteorological condition of the year, the intervention of man and the production technique, are all elements contributing to the making of a quality wine. Not all grapes are suited for the production of a sparkling wine and, in particular, not all grapes are suited for classic method technique. There are grapes capable of making very good Charmat method sparkling wines and mediocre classic method ones and vice versa, therefore the adoption of classic method does not necessarily mean making a better sparkling wine. It is however undeniable the results obtained with classic method are better, for example, in the quality of perlage and the complexity of aromas. On the other hand, sparkling wines produced with the Charmat method have a better aromatic freshness. The adoption of specific techniques - as well as specific grapes - does not ensure a high quality wine: it just contributes to obtain this result and represents one of the many factors whose efficiency is determined by its use. That's why there are excellent classic method sparkling wines and mediocre classic method sparkling wines. The same considerations are valid for Charmat sparkling wines as well as for any other style of wine.



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 25, December 2004   
To Age or Not To Age Wines?To Age or Not To Age Wines? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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