we get letters!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m finding that many of the topics that previously would have gone into my now-discontinued Seattle Times Wine Adviser column fit comfortably into this blog. In fact, much more comfortably than they ever did elsewhere, for a number of reasons. The timing of blog “publication” is right now, instead of weeks down the road. There is immediate feedback. Dialogue. Discussion. And sometimes disagreement, to be sure, but that’s all part of the process.

Some years ago, when the Seattle Times had a Wednesday Food & Wine section, my column would frequently run to 1200 – 1500 words, and included a lot more material as well as a Q&A section. Here in blog-dom, the problems of shrinking print media don't exist, thankfully. So I’m happy to answer your questions as often as they arrive. For that purpose I’ll headline those entries as “We Get Letters!” and add a letters tag. Please shoot me your questions via e-mail to paulgwine@me.com.

Here’s what came in recently over the digital transom:

Hi Paul,

I often read in your articles that you will drink a bottle over a period of time and that a good way to see how a bottle will age is to drink it the next day after you've opened it. My question for you is how do you store the wine in the interim? Do you just push the cork back in or use a typical wine stopper? Do you leave at room temperature? If you had access to a wine temperature controlled space, would you recommend placing it there in the interim? I have a small temperature controlled wine cellar and often use the pumping method to store unfinished bottles and then place the reds in my cellar and whites in my fridge, but I'm curious to understand your methods so I more clearly understand what you're doing when I'm reading. Thanks!

PG: Thanks for writing. Excellent questions. I frequently leave bottles open overnight to see how the wines will show the next day, sometimes even a third day. I do not use any pumps or gases or wands or needles or magnets, none of the many zany gizmos that supposedly preserve wine. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try them. Obviously, for some folks they work, or the products would disappear from the shelves. But I have found over many years that young wines will usually last for a day or two just by putting the cork back in the bottle, or re-tightening the screwcap. If you have a relatively cool (let’s say 70 degrees or under) spot away from kitchen heat, sunlight or a furnace you need nothing more. If you refrigerate the wines, you should remember that it dehydrates the corks so it’s not good to do for more than a day or two. Also, you will need to pull the wine out a bit early so it can warm up to cellar temperature. A temperature-controlled wine cellar or storage unit is great if you have the space. Just don’t forget you put that opened bottle in there!

The optimal tasting temperature for a sparkling wine or rosé is probably around your regular fridge’s 42 - 45 degrees; ten degrees warmer (cellar temperature) for white wines, and somewhere around 60 - 62 degrees for reds.

I do this experiment mostly as a check on very young wines, but occasionally I simply fail to finish a dinner wine and leave it out as well. It’s always interesting, but there are no guarantees that any given wine, new or old, will last, let alone improve. It might be best used for testing out the aging potential of a young wine that you have purchased in quantity.


Frogbert said...

Hey Paul - Do you have a rough estimate of how many of the wines you leave on the counter overnight turn out to be completely garbage after one night? Also, do you find any common traits/qualities of the wines that may help them survive a night on the counter?

PaulG said...

Hey Frogbert. I leave a LOT of wines out on a regular basis. If they are sound when first opened, they will most likely still be at least OK on the second day. I'm looking for more than just OK - I'm looking for red wines to open up without losing focus or concentration; looking for white wines to retain their freshness and vitality. The common traits that suggest longevity are overall balance, more acidity than tannin, and depth of flavor.

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