Tasting Panel Member Nicole Gow answers some of your frequently asked questions.
Well, the first thing most of us on Panel would ask is “Who doesn’t get through a full bottle?” However, with my RSA hat on, you can pretty well safely say a wine opened and sealed tightly and placed in the fridge (red or white) will be fine the next day. On the second day there may be some oxidation obvious. But if the wine tastes okay and enjoyable to you, there’s nothing more to think about. The anomaly would be wines with age, e.g., a red with 8-10+ years age, will normally benefit from decanting half an hour prior to drinking, but needs consuming pretty much straight away.
What’s the best way to keep the fizz in Sparkling wine once you’ve popped the cork?
So the legend goes – hang the spoon, handle down, in the neck of the bottle, store it in the refrigerator, and the Sparkling wine is still bubbly days later. But when a team of Stanford researchers put the idea to the test, they found that the spoon theory falls flat. The spoons, silver or stainless, were not especially successful in maintaining the sparkle of the wine. But spoons and all other treatments worked better than re-corking the bottles. At least in this test, re-corking seemed to make Sparkling wine lose the most effervescence and taste.
Leaving the bottle open and untreated worked better than hanging a spoon inside. In fact, the two bottles left open in the refrigerator for 26 hours averaged a higher score than any other treatment – including just-opened Sparkling wine.
Another tip: Make sure you refrigerate it. Carbon dioxide stays dissolved to a greater extent in cold liquid. To me, the most obvious is, share the bottle with someone special or a group of friends, then there’s absolutely no debate about what to do with the half opened bottle of Sparkling wine!
What’s the ideal serving temperature for different varieties?
Wines should be served at a temperature that best reveals its characteristics and aromas. But in very general terms, red wines are served at cooler room temperatures and white wines are best served chilled. When wines are served too warm they tend to taste unbalanced with an alcohol or hot mouthfeel. When wines are served too cold, the innate flavours and aromas are significantly suppressed. So, to serve your wines just right, take a look at the guidelines below.
White Wines: 7-10°C Red Wines: 10-18°C Champagne or Sparkling Wines: 6-11°C
Why are there different glasses for different varieties?
I can’t emphasise strongly enough the importance of good stemware to enhance the wine tasting experience. With that being said, most well known producers of stemware produce a different glass for almost all varieties. Is it really necessary? Personally, I think to have at least a quality all-rounder white and red stem and Champagne flute will get you by perfectly. But if you can expand your collection, I’d recommend doing so in the varieties you prefer to drink, stem by stem.
In designing stemware, cues include balance, ability to develop aroma and taste, sensuality in the hand and on the lips. Every glass contains the suitable volume (area in the bowl) to bring the wine to its full potential. A narrower, finer glass would suit an aromatic Riesling and a bigger, rounder bowl for a Pinot Noir, for example. A good wine tastes better in the right glass!
Why do different varieties come in different shaped bottles?
Basically, tradition is the real reason bottle shapes have been paired with particular varietals for centuries.
A little bottle knowledge can give you a bit of a clue as to what the contents might be, even without reading the label. Most drinkers are familiar with the tall, slender Germanic bottles that are typically used for Riesling, for example.
Today we have two main bottle shapes, although a third, taller version does exist and is used mostly in Alsatian and German varietals. The two are still high-shouldered and soft-shouldered, used in red and white production. High shouldered are Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), soft-shouldered are Burgundies (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). The grapes of Burgundy produced what were thought to be softer wines when compared to the sturdier, more structurally tannic Bordeaux. They both contain the same volume of wine, standardised today at 750ml for the ordinary bottle. Then there are Sherry and Port bottles that have a bulbous neck to collect any residue.
At the end of the day, the bottle shape does not affect the actual taste of the wine, except in the case of Champagne, or Sparkling Wine, where fermentation happens in the bottle and the thicker glass walls are there to handle the Co2 pressure.