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Wine

Let it Breathe - Wine Decanters

Better fruit expression, a softer structure and the best possible tasting condition – these are the reasons why it’s a good idea to decant certain wines.

But how and when should you decant a wine? We asked Tasting Panellist, winemaker and wine show judge, Dave Mavor to fill us in.

When to use a wine decanter

 

What is a Wine Decanter For?

The major benefit of decanting is to let wine and oxygen combine. Wine feeds on oxygen when it’s released, giving it the best chance to open up allows the fruit to prosper, the structure to soften, and the wine to be in optimum tasting condition.

In the old days, a wine that had a cork and was deemed worthy, or was of good providence, was meant to be decanted, but the advent of the screwcap has changed all this. It’s the newer bottles in your cellar, the ones you put aside for immediate drinking, which are the ones that can benefit from a little TLC in a wine decanter.

As screwcapped wines arrive tighter and more fine-boned than their predecessors under cork, a bit of air can help release primary fruit and aid texture. In terms of time, newer wines can be left in the decanter and you’ll notice they open up over the course of a few hours.

Older wines, however, do not need more than an hour as they will start to fall away in the decanter and fruit can become stripped quite quickly.

When to Decant Your Wine

How and when to decant wine infographic

Can Decanting Help an Inferior Wine?

Yes! Decanting a cheap wine can often help to get rid of the unpleasant odour from the sulphur dioxide. You might even fool your friends into thinking you’re drinking a much more expensive wine.

Vinturi Aerators

While we generally prefer the ritual, elegance and occasion of a wine decanter, there is no question that aerators are one of the fastest ways to achieve a similar result.

The theory works on the vinturi effect, where the velocity of a wine poured through a small gap increases, and as this happens, pressure decreases and air is mixed with the wine as it is poured into the glass.

So aerators are a fast alternative to decanting and if no-one else is sharing your wine, you can pour just a glass through the aerator instead of having to pour the whole bottle into a decanter.

Whether you use an aerator, a decanter or even a jug, give your wine some space to breathe and experience the difference.

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Biodynamic – going beyond organic
Words by Jackie Macdonald on 5 Apr 2016
If someone told you that filling a cow’s horn with dung and planting it at a certain phase of the moon would help your vines to grow, you’d probably think they were bonkers. Far out it may indeed sound, but this is one of the central steps in biodynamics, a form of organic viticulture that’s being embraced by an increasing number of Australian wineries. While it might sound like a theory cooked up by modern hippies, biodynamics actually has its origins in Europe over 90 years ago. Let’s set the scene. It’s 1924 in Silesia, Germany (now part of Poland) and a group of farmers has gathered to hear a series of lectures by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The farmers are looking for an alternative to chemical fertilisers, which they believe have caused extensive damage to their soil and brought poor health to their livestock and crops. Steiner proves sympathetic as he reveals a system of agriculture that shuns chemicals and treats the farm as an individual, self-contained entity. Rather than focus on the health of individual plants, Steiner’s system teaches that good health requires that the entire eco-system in which the plant exists be thriving. This includes the other plants, the soil, the animals and even the humans who are working the land. The system he describes he calls biodynamics. By taking away all artificial fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, Steiner presented one of the earliest models of organic farming. However, it’s the next steps that really separate biodynamics from organics (and it’s at this point that I imagine some of the listening farmers’ eyebrows began to rise). Steiner claims that for this environment to truly blossom, a series of field and compost preparations needs to be added. These preparations, nine in total, are man-made solutions, derived from nature, that are labelled 500 through to 508. To the conventional farmer, these preparations may appear somewhat far-fetched. For example, ‘500’ is made by filling cow horns with cow manure, which are then buried over winter to be recovered in spring. A teaspoon of the manure is then mixed with up to 60 litres of water, which is stirred for an hour, whirled in different directions every second minute. ‘501’ also requires a cow horn, this time filled with crushed quartz. It is buried over summer and dug up late in autumn, then mixed the same way as 500. Stretching his credibility even further in the eyes of the pragmatic farmer, Steiner brings a spirituality to his teachings by suggesting the growth cycles of the farm are influenced by astrological forces. Decisions such as when to spray the preparations, when to weed and when to pick should all be made according to a calendar that details the phases of the moon and stars. “Hocus-pocus!” you may very well cry. Not so, according to the ever-increasing number of wine producers in Australia and internationally who have embraced biodynamics. Choosing an environmentally sustainable approach to viticulture is obviously to be applauded in these times of climate crisis. However, talk to biodynamic producers and you’ll find that superior wine quality is the number one motivation for being biodynamic. At South Australia’s Cape Jaffa, the Hooper family has been using biodynamic principles for many years and their conviction in its effectiveness is complete. “We believe that cultivating the vines in this way is what allows them to achieve balance within their environment. Achieve balance, and the vines are able to fully express themselves – leading to a wine that bares a true and remarkable resemblance to its environment,” says Derek Hooper. The Buttery family of Gemtree in McLaren Vale are also converts. Since their biodynamic beginnings in 2007 they say they can now “see a noticeable difference in the health of our vineyard and quality of our fruit.” A fellow McLaren Vale winemaker, David Paxton of Paxton wines says, “Biodynamics is the most advanced form of organic farming. It uses natural preparations and composts to bring the soil and the vine into balance, resulting in exceptionally pure and expressive fruit.” The proof is in the tasting, however, so next time you’re looking for a new wine to try, why not put biodynamics to the test and see if you can taste the natural difference?
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Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
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The 10 Biggest Wine Myths
‘All wine gets better with age’, ‘The more expensive the wine, the better it tastes’, ‘The French invented Champagne’ – can you tell myth from fact? Discover the truth on the 10 biggest wine myths   Myth 1: All wine gets better with age
Fact: A lot of wine in Australia is made to drink within 12-18 months. There’s a real trend at the moment, especially with reds, for winemakers to craft young, fresh wines to drink immediately rather than to age. You can still find wines that are made to age for decades, with Hunter Valley Semillon and Australian Shiraz being great examples.     Myth 2: Bottles of wine sealed with a cork are better than those with a screw-cap
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​ Fact: One of the joys of wine is that it comes down to personal taste. How much a wine sells for can indicate the quality of grapes and how expensive the winemaking process was. However, a lot of wine pricing is driven by economics and supply and demand, but this will never guarantee that a $500 bottle will taste five times better than a $100 one.   Myth 4: Blended wines are inferior
​ Fact: This myth has been driven by Australia’s insatiable thirst for single variety wines. However, one of the ironies of this is that some of Australia’s greatest wines ever made were blends. In fact, one of the most famous blended wines in the world is Champagne . Blended wines are a classic case of the end product being greater than the sum of its parts.    Myth 5: The French invented Champagne
​ Fact: It is argued that English scientist and physician Christopher Merret invented Champagne in the 17 th century when he added sugar to a finished wine to create a secondary fermentation.   Myth 6: Red wine with meat, white wine with fish
​ Fact: This is not a myth in that generally, the high tannins in red wine are a delicious complement for the fat in red meat, and the acidity in white wine gives brightness to a match of chicken or fish. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule. For example, you can pair red wine with fish; the secret is matching weight with weight. If salmon is poached, it will be silky, therefore a Rosé or Pinot Noir can work, while roasted salmon/ barra might pair well with a bolder red. Sauce is another factor, a creamy sauce screams for white wine, but a spicy red sauce or mustard sauce could work well with Sangiovese or even cool climate Shiraz !   Myth 7: A heavier bottle equals higher quality
​ Fact: Bottles with thicker glass are pricier because there is a higher investment in the packaging process, but it says nothing about the wine quality.   Myth 8: The correct serving temperature for red wine is “room temperature”
​ Fact: The ideal temperature to serve red wine is 14-18ºC. Serving it too cold will dull the aromas and ultimately the flavours in full-bodied red wine. Room temperature in Australia during the peak of summer may be anywhere from 25–35ºC, so don’t be afraid to pop your favourite red wine in the fridge for half an hour before your barbeque, unless, of course, it’s come from a temperature controlled environment. Learn more about how to store wine at home here .   Myth 9: An expensive decanter is the only way to decant wine
​ Fact: You can decant wine in any clean vessel such as a vase, a saucepan or a teapot. The process is simply to bring the wine into contact with oxygen to really bring out the aromas and flavours and help it to breathe. A stylish decanter obviously looks beautiful, though, and adds to the theatre of wine enjoyment. Learn more about how and when to use a wine decanter here.   Myth 10: If a wine smells and tastes like a particular fruit, it has been made with the addition of that fruit
​ Fact: The only fruit wine is made from is grapes. The other aromas and flavours you might detect are the result of aroma and flavour molecules that a grape shares in common with a particular fruit. For example, Cabernet grapes contain the same flavour molecules as blackcurrants, and Sauvignon Blanc has the same molecules as those found in green vegetables.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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