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Tips and Techniques
Getting the Most Out of Your Wine
Although Clarkson Vine's wines contain all the ingredients required to make great wine, the one thing we cannot add is the magic ingredient: time. As wine ages it evolves, becoming more complex and flavourful. To maximize the benefits of ageing your wine, follow these guidelines:
- Use a high-quality cork. Natural corks are more expensive than agglomerated, but last much longer.
- Add extra sulphite to wines you intend to age longer than six months. This is important–sulphite levels are quite low compared to commercial wine.
- Fill your bottles so that the space between the bottom of the cork and the wine is about 4 cm (an inch and a half). More space may cause oxidation, less may stress the bottle and cause leaking.
If you do not have a proper cellar, keep your wine in another insulated space with cool temperatures, following these guidelines:
- The ideal temperature is between 7°C and 13°C (45°F to 55°F). You can store your wine as warm as 20°C (68°F) but keep in mind it will age faster as the temperature rises.
- The temperature must be constant with little to no fluctuation.
- Keep your wine in darkness. Sunlight and ultraviolet light will damage the wine over time
- The humidity should be 65% to 75%. This keeps the corks from drying and leaking.
- Minimize movement or agitation, it disturbs the ageing process.
Wines will improve with a minimum of three months ageing, and continue to improve over time. How long they can successfully improve actually depends on the bottle, cork, and storage conditions as mentioned above. However, as a rule, the more intensely flavoured and darker a wine is, the longer it will benefit from ageing. The guide below will give you a very general idea of suggested ageing periods.
||9 to 12 Months
||3 to 4 Years
|8-Week International Red
||6 to 9 Months
||3 to 4 Years
|8-Week International White
||4 to 6 Months
||2 to 3 Years
||6 to 9 Months
||2 to 3 Years
||4 to 6 Months
||1 to 2 Years
||4 to 6 Months
||4 to 6 Months
||3 to 5 Months
||2 to 4 Months
“Wine is more than a drink, it’s truly a passion”
- Wine Storage “General rules of thumb for wine cellaring”
Use high quality natural corks, pick a location which is generally dark, free of vibration, has high humidity (50-80%) and a low stable temperature (optimum temperature 8-12° Celsius). Keep the bottles stored so the cork stays moist (lay bottles on their side label facing up), and ensure the area is free from other items that have a strong odour, like cleaning supplies or garlic.
- Building your wine inventory “Ensuring you have great wine to enjoy all the time”
If you make multiple batches now you will have wine you can enjoy right away but also in the years to come. It is a good idea to dedicate 1/3 of each batch to both short term (within 6 months), and longer term aging. This gives you the opportunity to discover when your wines are perfect for drinking. Some people like the forward style found in the many young wines, while others prefer a more classically structured and balanced wine typically found in a wine that has aged some. Since no two people can agree on every example of wine, only you can determine when your wine is at its peak.
- Open your wine 1 hour prior to drinking to allow the wine to breath. Important wines which have been aged for a long time should be transferred from the bottle to a decanter in order to let all its aromas to open up.
Very old wines and vintage Ports are decanted to separate the clear wine from the sediment in the bottle, but for the most part wine is decanted in order to expose it to oxygen.
Not all kit wines benefit from decanting; Yong fruity wines like white Zinfandel don’t always show any improvement upon decanting. However, almost all of the rest of the red wines and a few of the whites can be improved quite wonderfully by decanting. The reds will “open up”, and show all their aromatic complexity much better, this is especially true of the full-bodied, structured res. Oaky wines will smooth out and show a much more integrated oak character.
- A proper decanter looks like a genie bottle
- Be careful to keep your decanted wine at the right serving temperature. White wine may need pre-chilling or keep the decanter in a chilled receptacle. Red wine needs to be around 18° Celsius (65° F) so it doesn’t warm up or get chilled white it breathes.
- Glasses with a wider bowl can be used for full bodied wines which allow the wine to flow to the tip of the tongue where it’s easier to taste the sweetness of the wine.
- White wines are often served too cold and this can diminish the fruit flavours and the bouquet. For most white wines, the suggested serving temperature is 7° Celsius (45° F). This can be accomplished by placing the bottle in the refrigerator for 1.5 – 2 hours or in a bucket of ice water (not just ice) for 25 minutes.
- Never soak or boil your corks. This may have been recommended in the past but today, doing so will compromise composition and limit function.
- When using a straight cork, the device should squeeze the cork to a minimum tightness of 15.5 mm.
- Insertion should be swift to avoid damaging the bottom of the cork and the bottle neck should be dry to avoid contamination.
- There must be a minimum of 15 mm between the stopper and the wine to allow room for the wine to expand with an increase in temperature.
- The corked bottle should be left standing for a specific period of time (usually 1 week is sufficient) to allow residual gas to escape.
Preparing for Your Next Batch of Wine
It is of extreme importance to make sure your bottles are clean and sanitized before bottling your wine. The easiest way to prepare your finished bottle at home is to simply rinse out with warm water and place back in the box upside down.
Novices stare in wonder as wine experts tilt, swirl, sniff, gurgle and swallow during the wine testing process. Is
it really necessary? Yes, these five steps ensure that every nuance of a wine's color, body, aroma, flavor and
aftertaste is captured and can be describes by the taster.
1) Color and Clarity
Tilt red wines (in your glass) away from you against a white background, such as a white tablecloth or white
piece of paper or place mat. Look at the outer edge or lip of the wine if the color of the wine is dark/red that
goes all the way out to the edge then that's the sign of a very young wine. In older red wine the color fades to
a brown/red and recedes towards the middle of the glass leaving a wide clear lip. This is called "color
separation". To a lesser extent the same is true of rose wines. As white wine age they oxidize or "maderize"
and turn tawny brown like Madeira.
Experts also sometime hold red wines up to the light to judge their color and clarity. Cloudy wines are an
indication of possible contamination, unless it is sediment common in very old re wines. This sediment will have
to be filtered through a strainer or (coffee filter) as the wine is decanted. Don't drink the sediment.
To judge the clarity of white wines, place the wine glass on the table and look straight down into the wine the
greater the clarity, the more brilliant the wine, and it will sparkle like diamonds.
Swirl the wine to judge it's body or viscosity. First swirl vigorously. Then stop and wait for the formation of
"legs" (clear tears) that fall back into the wine. The thicker the legs, and the more slowly they fall, the full bodied
the wine. Very light white wines, such as German Riesling, have virtually no legs and look almost like water.
Sweet,luscious dessert wines invariably have the most viscosity and thinker legs. Some wine experts "chew"
the wine in their mouth to judge it's body (and tannin and flavor)
To judge the aroma swirl the wine in your glass before sniffing deeply. Glasses should be no more than 1/3
full so that you can swirl without spilling. Swirling vapourizes the wine and releases the molecules of aroma that
must travel through your nasal passages to reach the nerve receptors waiting to snatch them and tell your
brain what they smell like -yeast or toast and apple or pear aromas.
In general red wines have more intense and varied aromas than white wines. When young reds exhibit lots of
berry aromas with perhaps mint, spice, licorice or chocolate. As red wines age they develop more raisin and
dried plum aromas, until they oxidize, become too old and smell vinegar. White wines follow a similar
progression but end up smalling like bad sherry when they're over the hill or "Mort", Dead, as the French say.
4) Sweetness, Saltiness, Acidity & Tannin
Sip a small mouthful of wine roll it around your tongue and do the wine "gurgle". To gurgle the wine hold it in
the middle of your tongue while you part your lips very slightly and carefully suck in some air. This wine gurgling
vaporizes more molecules of the wine so that you can get an intense impression of its sweetness, saltiness,
acidity and tannin or astringency and bitterness. If the wine is very sweet it creates a tinging at the tip of the
tongue. If the wine is very high in acidity you will feel a "needles and pins" sensation on the sides of you
tongue. There is only one salty wine that i know of is Manzanilla Sherry. It is aged in barrels placed by the sea in
southwest of Spain so that the salty ocean air penetrates the wood and gives the wine a slightly salty taste.
Which makes Manzanilla the perfect sherry for tapas and appetizers. And if the wine has a lot of tannin (from
black grape skins and oak barrels) then you will feel a dry sensation on the surface of your tongue and
throughout your pallet. This tannin acid in tea. Young red wines have a lot of tannin from the sources just
mentioned. But this tannin acts as a natural preservative and antioxidant in red wines, which is why they live
longer then most white wines. The tannin explains the health benefits of drinking red wines such as keeping
arteries clear of plaque and lowering the incidence of heart disease. Tannin in red wines also helps digest high
fat foods such as cheese and red meat. That's why red wines are used to marinate meat and why the protein in
cheese actually pulls out some of the tannin in red wines making them smoother.
5) Concentration and Aftertaste
The greatest wines have deep fruit concentration in the middle range of the tasting process just before you
swallow. Certain red grape varieties, such as Merlot, are known for tasting watery instead of concentrated
which is why wine makers call Merlot the grape with the "hole in the middle". Swallow at least some of the wine
to judge the aftertaste or finish. Some experts always spit instead of swallowing but I believe you have to taste
at least a little bit of the wine to get a more accurate assessment of its properties. Great wines have a long
lingering pleasant finish. This is called the "memory" of the wine. When you consider the price of the best wines
it well worth training your taste buds and wine memory because that and bragging rights will be all you have
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