Wine Basics Part 3

April 21, 2010

Wine Basics Part 3

What kind of glass should wine be served in?
Wine can be drunk out of any vessel you like, so don’t let the lack of a special glass stop you. Glass is preferred because it is completely inert and doesn’t impart any off flavors to the wine and is clear so the wine’s color can be appreciated. Professionals and dedicated amateurs value glasses with stems to hold on to so the temperature is not altered by the temperature of the drinker’s hands. Wine glasses narrow toward the rim so wine can be swirled (to maximize aroma) without spilling out of the glass. Traditionally, red wine glasses are bigger than white wine glasses.

If you are planning on purchasing wine glasses and are either on a budget and/or don’t have a lot of room to store separate wine glasses for red and white wines, buy an all-purpose 10 ounce wine glass and use it for both red and white wines.

Why are red and white wines served in different sized glasses?
Red and white wines do not need to be drunk out of different sized glasses. In fact, you can drink wine out of any glass you want. Traditionally, white wines are served in smaller wine glasses than red wines, which are often thought to give off their richer aromas more easily in larger glasses. Champagne or sparkling wines are often served in elongated glasses that narrow at the top called flutes that preserve the wine's fizziness. Dessert wines are served in smaller glasses because these wines are served in smaller portions than table wines.

Should I let wine breathe after it's been opened?
This is a much debated issue. Many believe that few wines greatly benefit from "breathing" (i.e., opening the bottle of wine and letting it stand a while before being drunk) because the wine's surface area exposed to air is minimal. But many believe that few wines will be hurt by giving it a chance to breathe.

The argument for letting the wine breathe (especially older red wine designed to be aged) is that the wine can benefit from the exposure to air just as it may benefit from the oxidation that occurs during the aging process. On the other hand, an older red wine may begin to break down when exposed to air for an extended period of time.

If you are drinking a wine you feel needs time to breathe, most likely a young tannic red wine, try letting it breathe in the glass rather than in the bottle. More of the wine will be exposed to the air that way. Let your personal taste dictate how you like your wine, whether you prefer it fresh from the bottle or after it has had tim

What does it mean if a wine is "corked"?
A corked wine is a wine with a moldy, chemical-like smell (sometimes associated with wet cardboard) that is due to cork taint. Cork taint stems from the widely used process of bleaching corks with a chlorine solution. A small proportion of wines are found to be corked (2% - 5%). Cork producers are replacing chlorine with other substances used for bleaching to avoid cork taint. In some cases, wine makers are using alternative closures made of synthetic materials. A wine with crumbled cork in it is not corked.

What can I do with leftover wine?
Drink it. A leftover bottle of red or white wine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 — 5 days. In addition, leftover wine can be used in cooking. But remember, do not use a wine for cooking that you do not consider fit to drink.

What is decanting? Why would you decant a bottle of wine?
Decanting is the process of slowly pouring the contents of a bottle of wine into another vessel leaving any sediment behind. This process is only necessary if the wine you are drinking has any sediment, usually an aged bottle of red wine or Port. Sediment is rare in a bottle of wine you buy that is designed to be ready to drink.

What is the sediment I sometimes find in a bottle of wine?
Sediment is made up of solid particles that are a byproduct of wine-making, such as dead yeast cell or fragments of grape seeds or skins. They are harmless if consumed, but the wine drinking experience can be more enjoyable if you decant a wine to remove the sediment.

Information courtesy of Wine Market Council.