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The Wrath Of Grapes: Secrets Of Sipping and Storing Fine Wine

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas (or to be politically correct Holiday Season), is what the song says. And for many, the “Jolly” means the giving and getting into the “spirits” of the season. One of the most popular holiday gift items seems to be the eclectic bottle of wine, and with all the positive press the palate pleasing potable is receiving these days, it’s probably going to be even more popular this year.

So, now the question remains, “which” wine to give. Let’s face it there’s been a lot of hype about wine, some even praising some less expensive options as an excellent alternative to their more extravagant selections. Then there’s the choice of “newer” varieties, older ones, or those that (according to legend) have been successfully aging in your basement.

Well, according to experts, when it comes to the latter, age actually has no bearing on ensuring a wine is “better”. In fact, they note that only a handful of wines actually improve with age.

However, experts “do,” add that there is a “science” to storing (fine) wine for posterity, full flavor and enjoyment. Here are a few pointers for preserving everything from your Pinot to your Port.

· Keep in mind that most wines are opened the day (or at least within a few days) of when they were purchased or received. This common contemporary practice is the reason behind (modern wine) manufacturers’ new “trend” in production lending to making bottle after bottle guaranteed to taste just as good today as it will months from now.

· The finest wines to traditionally stand the test of time have been Bordeaux and Burgundy, but wine connoisseurs say that barolas and barbarescos from Italy generally cost less for the same high end quality and have equal staying power. Another favored alternative is vintage port, although experts suggest avoiding “late-bottled vintage” (or wines marked LBV), indicating they are ready for consumption, but generally won’t gain any advantage from storing and aging. Yet more avant-garde options are the relatively inexpensive Australian shiraz-cabernet blends.

· Think outside the box and accept that not all wines that benefit with time (and aging) are red. In fact, professionals point out those German Riesling ages quite nicely offering more complex and characteristic flavors over time. And, they add that it tends to be fairly reasonably priced (between $15 to $20 per bottle). Look for varieties marked “Spatlese” from a good recent vintage. You can expect to notice significant “improvement” in as little as two or three years. Other storable whites include sauternes and champagne.

· While you do want to be aware of storage conditions, they may not be as important as you may have been “led” to believe. As far as wine cellars are concerned, they traditionally have made for ideal storage because the typical basement was (and still is), because of its generally consistent temperature, the best place to store wine. Experts suggest that wines are extremely sensitive to temperature changes, typically causing pressure changes in the bottle and resulting in either expansion or contraction. Bottles should be stored on their sides to keep the cork moist, otherwise it will dry up and shrink and allow air into the bottle, ultimately resulting in evaporation and also adversely affecting the taste.

· When stocking up for storage, consider buying a case or more. But, according to experts don’t expect every bottle to be a “hit’. They note, that aging wine is just as much chance as it is “science” and they suggest pulling a bottle and tasting it before you expect it to be ready. And, they add, the only real difference between new and aged wine is that those not aged may be a little flatter (in taste) and less tannic.

Storing Open Bottles: Now that you’ve popped the cork on your bodacious beverage, the key is making sure it maintains its fine flavor after you’ve poured a glass or two.

The basic “problem” wines and wine connoisseurs face is oxygen getting into the bottle and damaging this divine drink. And, once they’ve been opened this occurrence is almost inevitable. Additionally, they note that the best-kept wines (after opening) are those with as strong acidic component. Such as Sancerre, Chianti, and Riesling (which tend to hold their flavor for up to 5 days); as well as champagne and sparkling wine, as long as they are sealed with a “clamshell” champagne stopper (found in most wine stores)

For maximum preservation, experts suggest investing in varieties that come in a box. They note that many companies are now offering wines in three-liter “casks” which prevent air from entering the bottle and also allow for stay-fresh storage in your fridge for months at a time.

Long Island Home & Lifestyle Articles > The Wrath Of Grapes: Secrets Of Sipping and Storing Fine Wine

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