Enjoying your Wine
Red Wine.

Connoisseur’s recommend red wines should be served at 18°C, but the usual British room temperature (about 20°C) is fine. Storage should be about 15°C if possible. Historically Red used to be served slightly chilled at 13°C, this being the natural temperature of the wine cellars and caves.
Having said that some light Reds can be served chilled! Red wines will also benefit from opening well before you intend to drink them. Oxydation takes the hard edges off the wine, especially the cheaper wines. It can turn a good wine into a stunning wine. A few hours is minimum, but consider opening the wine before you leave for work in the morning, to drink in the evening. Don’t seal the bottle, but leave it open. If you are short of time, help yourself to a taster, this drops the level of wine below the neck, increasing the area in contact with the air.
Although most Reds are better with age, wines from the lesser Appellations’ of France and classifcations in other countries can be appreciated when young, age always seems to improve the taste of a Red, they can be kept for upto 5 years or longer. Wines made to age usually have a cork not a screw cap. Wines with the screw cap are usually made to be drunk straight away. If you are looking to lay down a wine for a few years, the top appellations like Saint-Emilion and Pomerol vineyards, are well suited and will greatly benefit from a rest!

White Wine.

‘Cool’ is the best temperature for white, too cold and you’ll miss the favour of the wine. Some fridges will be too cold at 5 degrees, 8-10 degrees is better so just take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you serve it! Although not as important than with a Red, a White can benefit being opened a little while before hand, try opening the bottle as soon as you take it out of the fridge. Having said this some prefer the freshness of a newly opened bottled – it’s all a matter of taste!! Age can also still be an issue with whites, but just not to the same degree. Look for white wines with a couple of years on them, perhaps 2-3 years, rather than last years wine which even for Whites can be too young. Regarding ageing, only the best chateau or Sweet wines can be laid down and kept like you would a Red, then only for a few years.

A Good Wine?

Good Wine is not a Branded Factory made product but an agricultural produce. The best wine is the result of a single vineyards efforts, a crafted drink made from the care taken in the planting of the grape vines, the harvest of the grapes to the bottling of the wine, it’s not manufactured in a factory from grape juice. It not only has the makers mark and style that’s put on the wine, but it takes on the personality of the area, soil and climate etc, a magical mix called “Terrior” by the French, which has no direct translation.
Every vineyard will tend to favour a different grape variety depending on the vineyards “terrior”, i.e Rioja is famous for the Tempranillo grape as Bordeaux is for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Over the centuries each area has chosen the best grapes to grow in its vineyards, and usually the best food to go with that wine!

Blending

New World wines mainly use just one verital of grape (a practice championed by the Australians in the 70’s and 80’s), many European wines are a blend of different Grapes, a different balance achieved each year depending on the results of each years crop. Whilst some vineyards may have big expansive areas under one variety, a vineyard in a Hilly area like Bordeaux plants one verital on the hill top, another on the slop and yet another at the bottom and maybe even another next to the river bank – each chosen to grow at its best in the different Terriors.

Ageing

Oak aged wine can be a matter of taste these days, but there’s no doubt it’s a process that makes the wine more complex and creates a smoother taste. With wines spending at least 18 months in an Oak Barrel, it also adds time and cost to a wine, so invariably you’ll find it’s the more expensive wines that are aged in this way. Therefore it can also be deduced that most cheaper wines will not have been aged. Occasionally you’ll find a wine that’s labelled as being ‘Oaked’ – this is not ageing. To provide and ‘Oaky’ taste to a wine some manufacturers add Oak clips to the fermenting process. It means a young wine can have the bite of new Oak without the cost involved in ageing a wine, but….. that same wine does not benefit from the whole process of Ageing itself. It’s a good idea to steer clear of any wine without a year on the label. It will probably be an industrialised wine made from imported grape juice. Also, the best wines come from the barrels used year after year, giving a mellow smooth taste, rather than the sharpness of new oak. The classification of a Old World wine is important and will dictate the quality. Always know it’s origins. a small estate wine, where the people who made the wine also tended the grapes, will usually be much better than a ‘branded’ wine which is the product of a marketing campaign.

Food

There are no strict rules as far as matching food and wine are concerned, but only simple advice and a few guide lines. After all, whilst there’s no mistaking quality in a wine, it’s all about personal taste in the end. Heavy Deep Coloured Reds go well with red meats and roasts; Lighter Reds will pair well with white meats, poultry, game and even fish; Spicier Oaked Reds are ideal matches for grilled meats, pasta and even Asian dishes; Dry Whites go well with Fish, salads, sea food even white meats; Sweet wines like Sauternes are perfect for desserts, foie gras, roasted white meats and, as an alternative to port, blue cheese. However, a special, aged wine with its rich, amber colour is a dessert in itself!

Old Worlds wines have a slight advantage here, a very simple rule of thumb states that as a regions wine and food have grown up together over hundreds of years, therefore a regions wine tends to go well with it’s wine! So next time you pick up a Rioja, have a look through a Catalan recipe book!



The Wine Review is designed and themed by Mike Bird