Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cellaring Wine and Seductive Sparklies

Me, myself and I went to the gourmet food & wine expo.

I don't mind going places like this by myself.  Every once in awhile I think it might be odd, but then I can see them in the crowd, the 'others' who are also content to travel solo.

Anyway, we had a blast - me, myself and I.  The only disappointment was there was no Armagnac to be found anywhere on site, which was a bit disappointing as we wanted a sip.

Connoisseur's  Corner has tastings sponsored by the Independent Wine Education Guild and I took in several.

Here are my notes for future reference on  Cellaring Wine and Seductive Sparklies.

Cellaring wine
Picked up some tips from Tony Aspler about cellaring wine.  Rule number one:  cellar, but don't hoard!!! Most excellent advice.  Don't wait for an occasion so special you never uncork a finer vintage.  And be sure to cellar suitable wines (stay away from plastic and screw tops; look for wines high in tannin; keep tabs on good vintage years like 2005 and 2009 Bordeaux).

When cellaring:  keep corks wet, keep your bottles away from traffic and vibration; store apart from solvents; keep cool (55 degrees); store your whites closer to the basement floor where it is coolest; speaking of whites they don't cellar as well as reds (Riesling and Sauvignon Blancs do best as they have higher acidity and residual sugars)

... and now for some Tannin trivia: 
  • small grapes like cab sauv and sangiovese  have a higher ratio of skin-to-grape which yield higher tannin 
  • used to preserve hides in the leather industry  (hmmm)
  • tannin is a short chain molecule and can evolve into a long chain molecule; this can be done by aging or sped up by soaking the grapes in water (when this is done there is a compromise, sometimes resulting in a wine that is more 'jammy'  and not quite as balanced
  • the riper the fruit when bottled the softer the tannin
  • tannins are rough when new, soft when mature and can create sediment when well-aged
As important as tannin is, the acidic note may be the most important element as it prolongs the flavour. So essential for body you can think of it as the spine or skeleton. 

Seductive Sparklies
Any grape can be used to make a sparkling wine and some recent market entries include sparkling malbecs.  Popcorn made with truffle oil is a great pairing with sparklies, (including high-end champagne).  Of course, so is sushi and oysters.

There are three different methods to put bubbles in sparkling wine:  injection, tank and traditional. 

  • The bigger the bubbles the more likely they have been created by injection or "bicycle pump" method.  Nothing really wrong with that...  it would be a waste to use a fabulous champagne in a mimosa or cocktail. Generally this method produces the bubbles that tickle your nose (and give your headaches).
  • This category goes through a second fermentation process when the yeast releases extra sugar, dissolves back into the wine and then carbonates.   
  • Prosecco (Italian) is a great example of this
  • Santa Margherita  is great value at $18/bottle
  • The smallest bubbles and the silkiest texture are found in the high-end of this category.  Great champagnes qualify. Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth champagnes like Veuve Cliquot
  • If you are throwing a party on a budget  there are some fantastic labels made according in the traditional method that can be had at a fraction of the cost:  
    • try Hungaria Grand Cuvee Brut from the Torley house.  Only $12 a bottle!  Very small bubbles, better than  Friexenet if you are looking for bargain bubblies
    • this Spanish Cava, 'Segura Viudas Brut Reserva', made from three different grapes and consistently good at $15

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