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Question & Answer: On Life, Liberty and Wine

Actually, I am only answering questions about wine.  I will leave life and liberty to someone else.

Question 1.  What is terroir and how do you say it?

Answer: First, it is pronounced {terr-wah}.   Terroir the French word used to describe the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.  Because all plants gather their nutrition through the ground, the water, and the sun, these elements all play a significant role in creating flavor in grapes that are unique to that location.  Looking at the ground in the images below you have to agree that this river rock laden soil would affect the way these grapes grow and thus the juice used to make wine. (This was from our 2015 trip to France visiting the Quiot family vineyards.  This family has been making wine since 1748.)

Question 2.  Why does wine spoil so fast and how can I save an open bottle?

Answer: Wine’s friend and foe is the same culprit – oxygen.  As a friend, it is needed to open up the wine to bring out the flavors that are suppressed while in the bottle. But as a foe, too much oxygen for too long and the wine turns and is vinegar.  Therefore, wine left in an open bottle or wine decanted should be consumed or sealed with a minimal surface area so that it stays drinkable.

question save wineFor a decanted bottle you can pour the wine back into a wine bottle to slow the oxidation process.  Some folks suggest that if you have any wine remaining decanted or otherwise you should transfer it to a 375ml half bottle to reduce the surface area and then suck out the oxygen using a VacuVin Wine Sealer.  In my mind just drink it and call an Uber to take you home.

We rarely have wine left in a bottle, but when we do, we always use the VacuVin Sealer.  It works and is affordable.  The key is to pump/pull enough oxygen out of the bottle to do the job.  I pump the bottle until it gets tough to pull.  Once you are done, put the bottle in your refrigerator (even red wines) as the chill also slows oxidation.  Red wine needs to be allowed time after refrigeration to come to proper drinking temperature when you are ready to finish the bottle.

Question 2a: How long will it last?

Using the sealer and letting your wine sit on the counter you will extend the life of most wine for one day (maybe two if you created a super strong seal).  In your fridge, you have 3-4 days.  The company says a week, but I have never tested it to see if it will last that long.  I do know that without the proper seal the wine is dead the next day.

Using the sealer and letting your wine sit on the counter you will extend the life of most wine for one day (maybe two if you created a super strong seal). In your fridge, you for sure two days but could be 3-4 days with a good secure seal. The company says a week, but I have never tested it to see if it will last that long.  I do know that without the proper seal the wine is dead the next day.

Oh, and you will lose the stoppers so order more.  VacuVin Stoppers

Question 3.  Should I shun wine whose taste is off-putting in some way on the first sip?

Answer: NO.  Do not rush to judge a new wine.  Many folks are unaware, but your mouth needs to be ready to truly taste wine.  It is not so much because of your taste buds but because of what may or may not have been in your mouth before your first sip.  Is there food residue in your mouth, do you smoke, have you drank or eaten anything since you last brushed your teeth? Is your mouth dry with little saliva?  All of these things and others can mask or modify flavors in wine.  About saliva, it is important to note that wine gets the salivary juices flowing. Since saliva is a deliverer of flavor to your taste buds, the more you are producing, the more flavor you may detect.

Also please keep in mind that the foods you are eating while drinking wine play a significant role in the flavor of the wine.  Your first sip may be before any food and subsequent sips with food. Thus it may seem that the wine is opening up as the meal progresses when in fact the food has altered your ability to perceive flavors.  It is also important to be aware that wine you sip first can affect how your second wine tastes and so on.  This is especially important to remember at a wine tasting.  After a while, your mouth is overloaded and may have difficulty discerning flavor.

So again, do not rush to judgment.  Take a sip, then wait and sip again before you pronounce a wine divine or garbage.

Question 4: Do wine aerators actually work?

Answer:  The short answer is yes, but the long answer is maybe.  To the degree that it is worth spending $25-$50 bucks only you can decide.  We got one as a gift.  I use it when I get a red wine that seems all closed up, and I cannot get a sense of the nose or flavors.  Tonight I opened a Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2013.  Pinot Noir is a lighter red wine, so I did not think it would require much breathing time.

I poured a glass and let it breathe for about 30 minutes, swirling the wine in the glass occasionally.  This wine has a high alcohol content of 14.5% which is a too high for me.  I wanted my first sip not to be a blast of medicinal alcohol.   After 30 minutes I tasted the wine and felt it needed more time.

Aerator to the rescue

After an hour, I got out my aerator and poured a second glass (in a new glass to compare against the first glass that was still not drinkable to my desire.

The aerated glass was smoother on my palate than the first glass even though the first glass has been out of the bottle for at least an hour.  This can be my mind playing with me because I know it was aerated but the bottom line is I like the taste of this wine once aerated.  While the fruit is very subtle, I get more fruit from the aerated wine than the non-aerated.

In the pictures below you can see how the aerator sits on the mouth of the bottle.  In the picture as I am pouring, note that the clear area has a reddish hue.  That is the wine being forced through tiny holes to coat the entire surface of the aerator.  This process also causes the wine to swirl as it heads into the glass.  Once in the glass, it bubbles up a bit.  All of this process introduces oxygen t the wine.  Our aerator is the Rabbit brand.  The one most often listed to be the best is the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator.

So what about this Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir 2013

If I judged it on the first sip, I would have tossed a $20.00 bottle of wine.  If I hadn’t aerated it, I would probably have tossed it out as well.  Will I buy it again?  Probably not as it is not my style of Pinot Noir.  With time and aeration, I made this wine work for me.

So how would I describe it?  Beautiful, clear ruby color of a classic Pinot. The nose takes time to arrive.  At first, there is no discernable nose.  High alcohol. Needs aeration.  Dry on the palate.  Earthy with the slightest hint of black currant.

Do you have a question for me?   Ask it in the comments section of this post.




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