An Education for 'Dumb Wine'

Posted by The Wine Whore |

Regardless of whether you are choosing to open a bottle you kept tucked away for a special occasion or one you recently purchased, before you pop the cork, take a moment to consider how you are going to drink it.

You could just raise the bottle to your lips, tilt it back, and take a swig, but you would be doing the wine an injustice by hastily doing so. In addition to using the right glassware, which is also hopefully properly cleaned, you should take a second to consider how to handle the wine once it is opened.

Does the wine need to breathe in order to reach its full potential?

Is there any sediment that needs to be filtered?

Decanting a wine serves two purposes. It oxygenates the wine, and if done properly, removes any sediment that may be present. This oxygenation softens harsh tannins present in the wine and in some cases, even revives older bottles from being �closed� for years. If you can�t resuscitate your wine through decanting, then you may have a bigger problem. Wine that remains closed and lifeless is commonly referred to as a �dumb� wine. While closed wines may need only time to reveal their richness and intensity, dumb wines fail to ever improve.

Decanting vintage ports, red wines, and even some white wines allows the removal of solid particles of sediment which fall to the bottom or stick to the sides of the bottle. Most wines are filtered to prevent such sediment from forming. Some winemakers see this process as a danger to the flavor compounds and complexity of the wine and choose to leave it unfiltered. Such wines will most likely require decanting.

The most important rule to remember is that wine changes as it �breathes.� By enjoying it at different points in its lifetime as well as at different points once the bottle is opened, you get the chance to observe the wine through its full spectrum of characteristics. One website which is aptly named 2 Days per Bottle, takes this one step further by tasting a wine through two days of oxygen exposure.

Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure to taste the wine first. You may find that it is ready to drink right from the bottle (again, don�t forget the glass). If you hadn't tasted the wine at this point, you would have ended up oxygenating the wine, causing the flavor to be dulled. Properly preparing and tasting wine gives you the chance to experience the wine through all of its different characteristics, whether it is closed, open, dumb, or just plain delicious!

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Shelly said...

I feel like I should be taking notes with each bottle. If I like it just opened and therefor drink it that way, How would I know if I'd like it even better after it breathes. It's almost as though I should do a taste test with each new bottle, take notes, and then refer to said notes when opening another bottle of the same. That's a lot of work. I'll just trust your judgement and follow your lead...I'm just not a patient person when it comes to my wine.

The Wine Whore said...

The funny thing too is that the wine could vary with each bottle even if it is the exact same wine and vintage... it is enough to drive you nuts if you think about it too hard.

I'm with you on this one, the best way to enjoy wine is not to forget to ENJOY the wine.


Ash Mehta said...

"Don't forget the glass." How true. At Tastes of the Valleys Wine Bar in Solvang we comtemplated (for a nanosecond) changing our stemware from Riedel to something a bit less expensive. There is nothing like a Riedel burgundy bowl. Never gonna change!

The Wine Whore said...

Completely agree! I just broke my favorite glass the other day and it just isn't the same. I will be replacing it immediately! :)

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