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The Cliff House BlogThe Mystery of Wine Pairings
01 Jul, 2014
Wine is stored in a variety of ways - from the initial picking of grapes to when the bottle is tipped above your glass. , The ephemeral beauty of wine is delicate and temperamental thus' an understanding of how best to coddle this fleeting art form is of benefit to those who would enjoy a perfect glass.
In The Beginning...
In the vineyard grapes are picked and transported to the winery in a variety of ways. , Some are mechanically harvested into large trucks and delivered in bulk to the winery. , Some are hand picked into small tubs and attended to immediately upon arrival. , There are even grapes picked in the cool of night' placed in small tubs and processed with dawns first light. , All of these choices have an impact on the final product. , Once the grapes are delivered more decisions are made. , Should the wine be fermented in stainless steel concrete vats aged oak vats or in small new oak barrels? , How long should the wine be held before releasing it? , Should the wine be aged in oak stainless steel on the lees in the bottle? , These decisions have a dramatic effect on the wine produced' and should give some indication of what to expect.
Off to Live the Life of Wine
Okay' the bottle has left the winery. , It&rsquo,s on the shelf in a liquor store. , What now? , The cardinal rule - heat and light are the enemies of wine. , Some wines are compromised before we have the opportunity to screw them up ourselves. Typically an inexpensive wine made to be drank young is not a risk that merits much investigation. , However if you are investing in an expensive wine - crafted to age for years - some knowledge of who imported or shipped the wine and how it may have been handled should be requisite prior to purchase. , It&rsquo,s always a good idea to speak with the wine store manager who can give you the distributors&rsquo, contact information or to research the wine on-line. , If you plan to cellar a bottle' it&rsquo,s important to know the wine has been handled well. , Did it get too hot on a long ocean voyage? , Has it sat in the sun on a shelf for a couple of months? , Was it stored upright for an extended period of time? , When investing in wine it&rsquo,s best to know the answers to these questions.
With regard to personal storage' every wine wants to return to its&rsquo, roots. , A cool dark cabinet performs well and if possible a controlled humidity of sixty-five or seventy percent is ideal. , Wine bottles should be stored on their sides to ensure the cork is well saturated and swollen - creating a tight fit with the neck of the bottle. , Wine should be stored under stable conditions without tempeture light or humidity variation. , Essentially the closer you get to recreating the conditions of a grape vines&rsquo, roots - under ground dark moist' constant - the more cellaring will reward you.
Wine bottling and corking techniques also have a role to play. , True with many things, judge the product' not the package. , A fancy bottle can hide a bourgeois juice and countless great wine comes with inauspicious wraps. , Yes even boxed wine can be a good option. , When boxing wine less capital is diverted toward packaging and more funds (possibly) allocated toward crafting a better juice. , Additionally the foil bladder inside the box collapses around any remaining wine reducing oxidation and increasing the wines&rsquo, overall longevity. , Follow your own tastes but for an everyday option' don&rsquo,t rule out the box.
Put a Cork in It? Or Screw it Up?
To cork or not to cork? , This remains the question. , There are passionate experts on both sides of this issue. , Certainly with some cork trees nearing endangered status' it behooves us to consider sustainability. , Additionally somewhere between five and ten percent of wine is faulted due to bacteria in the cork itself not only a significant waste but also a rude surprise when your last bottle of a rare vintage is undrinkable. , To mitigate this many wines are now capped with a screw top or Stelvin closer. , This reduces the likelihood of a tainted wine costs less than cork and eases some of the burden on cork trees. , Stelvin closers do however seem a little less graceful when opened and for many have connotations of plonk (a wine of poor quality.) , This may have been the case in the past, it is not today. , Many great wines are capped with the Stelvin closer. , Another new stopper is the glass lock simply - a glass cork with a rubber seal. , Perhaps a touch more classy the glass lock does allow for a little more opening ritual. , When a wine is designed to age in bottle the cork issue becomes more complicated. , Prevailing thought has always held some transfer of oxygen through the cork' was necessary for the wine to mature and develop its&rsquo, bouquet. , While the jury is out - it is likely to be some time before you see Chambertin with a screw top.
The Final Solution: Drink it!
When storing an opened bottle of wine you have a few options. , The goal is to slow the rate of oxidation. , Try a wine pump - designed to remove oxygen from the bottle' creating a partial vacuum or try a wine preservative - essentially inert gas that will blanket the juice and seal out oxygen. , Failing either of these put the opened wine in the refrigerator and yes even your reds. , Lowering a wines&rsquo, temperature also slows oxidation' just be sure to pull your red wine out an hour or so before serving.
Given a little information' wine storage is intuitive and straightforward requiring little more than a cool cupboard rarely opened. , Box cork Stelvin and glass lock closers all have their place in today&rsquo,s market though they may tell less about the quality of the wine than they have in the past. , Having passed through many loving hands the bottle you hold is entrusted to your care. , A gentle touch is usually rewarded. , Remember &ndash, all wines long for their roots. , Cheers.