Whether you are just starting your love affair with wine, looking to enhance your existing wine knowledge or simply looking for an inspired question for your next Zoom quiz – we all have questions when it comes to wine.
I have carried out hundreds of wine tastings over the years, and some of them have actually involved other people! It doesn’t seem to matter on the occasion, location or a person’s age, the questions I’m asked seldom change. Is it the thirst for more which drives the questions? And does the pretentiousness of the wine-world like to keep the answers under lock and key?!
Well at RW&C we like to remove the mystery that surrounds these magical little bottles and have created a snapshot list of the most frequently asked questions… along with their answers, otherwise that would be silly.
Q/HOW LONG WILL A BOTTLE OF WINE LAST WHEN OPEN?
There are many storage factors when it comes to opened bottles, and although some styles can last longer, this guide is a good place to start.
White: 2 – 3 Days Refrigerate with a cork/closure
Rose: 2 – 3 Days Refrigerate with a cork/closure
Sparkling: 2 – 3 Days Refrigerate with a Champagne Bottle Stopper – NOT a spoon!
Red: 3 – 5 Days Store in a cool dark place with a cork/closure
Bag In Box: 28 Days Refrigerate whites / cool dark place for reds
Q/ HOW WOULD I KNOW IF THE WINE HAS GONE OFF?
Have the fruit aromas and flavours become dull or bitter? Has the colour darkened or gained a brown-edged tinge? If so, these are all classic signs that the wine has become oxidised (too much oxygen). More obvious signs of bacteria will present themselves with vinegary or nail varnish aromas – and as inviting as that might be, pour it away!
Q/ HOW SHOULD I STORE MY WINE?
The best way to store wine is in a wine fridge. There are so many on the market at varying price points, and they enable you to set different temperatures for each compartment. But if you’d rather spend your money on wine, rather than kitchen gadgets, simply put a wine rack in a cool dark room (wardrobes work well). If you are keeping the wines for longer than a few weeks, it’s best to lay the wines on their side so that the cork stays moist; a dried-out cork can allow oxygen into the bottle and dry out the wine. (Same rules apply for stelvin screwcap). Ideal storage temps:
White & Rose: 8 – 12c
Sparkling: 5 – 8c
Red: 12 – 19c
Q/ WHY DO I GET HEADACHES FROM DRINKING WINE? – IS IT THE SULFITES?
Sulfites are used in the wine making process to prevent bacteria growing in the grape juice. It’s actually a naturally occurring substance found in many dried fruits and juices but recently, its presence in wine, seems to have become a “thing”. Sulfites can cause severe allergic reactions, but like nuts, only to those who are sensitive and that is why there has to be a warning on the bottle – but sulfites aren’t usually the culprit of a wine drinkers headache. The causes will vary in individuals, but it is usually good old-fashioned dehydration or a reaction to organisms found in the skin of grapes – like histamines.
Q/ WHAT IS THE BEST WINE? AND WHAT ARE “YOUR” FAVOURITE WINES?
If you asked these questions to certain people, you could literally lose four hours of your life. So my advice is don’t!
Having been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years and drinking it for a little longer, my only advice is this…. If you like it – drink it – full stop. What you perceive to be a good wine is a good enough reason.
And if you ask me what wines I drink, well, that would lose you another four hours as it totally depends what mood I’m in!
Q/ WHY ARE WINE LABELS SO CONFUSING?
Long have you needed a degree in decoding to understand these little labels and its almost as if someone did it intentionally, to keep the non-serious riff-raff away from their collection! If you want to enjoy an array of different wines, then it will certainly help if you do a little research to build your knowledge, but it doesn’t need to be science-a-lá-rocket.
Every country and region has its own set of laws that define what information needs to be on the label. In Europe, which is often referred to as the “Old World” many wines are labelled by the specific region, village or vineyard i.e Chablis and Rioja. The laws were put in place to protect the integrity and history and not coincidentally tend to be more strict, confusing and old fashioned.
In the “New World” USA, Australia, Chile etc wine labels are far easier to understand as they are simply labelled by the origin and grape variety i.e Californian Chardonnay.
Q/ DOES GOOD WINE HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE?
We’ve already discussed that only you can decide on what is a good wine as our taste buds are completely unique, and so this question falls back onto your shoulders. However, to gain a little understanding on how the wine that you choose to drink has been valued, you might find these facts interesting – or worrying!
This example is based on a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc in the supermarket for £5.99… does it sound too good to be true?
Bottle Price: £5.99
Supermarket Margin: £1.50
Wine Value £0.38
Only by trying the £5.99 wine could you answer if you’re happy to drink a large glass of wine that has been valued at 13p.
Now look at the same principle based on a more premium Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for £9.99
Bottle Price: £9.99
Transport Costs: £0.40
Supermarket Margin: £2.49
Wine Value £2.73
This shows that by increasing your spend by £4.00 you’re getting wine that’s been valued SEVEN times higher, although this logic doesn’t necessarily work once you’ve reached the £30 mark – at this price point you’re often paying for a famous name.
Please share your comments or get in touch if you would like anymore information.
THIRST FOR MORE?
There are 13 minerals that are essential for human life,
and all of them can be found in wine.
I think not.