Let’s touch on the topic of wine aeration. To aerate is just a fancy way of saying you are going to oxidate or add air to the wine. Other terms are “breathing” or “resting.” Why would you want to do this? Concerning the pleasures of food and wine, it’s all about the taste. Allowing wine to breathe simulates aging, among other things, and can make a young wine more palatable. A fruity inexpensive wine won’t taste better with aeration and a wine that has already aged in the bottle oftentimes will be harmed by aeration. The best gauge of whether a wine needs aeration is to pour a small sample and taste for yourself. As always, it’s a personal preference.
How to aerate? Resting the wine inside the opened bottle does little toward oxidation but many of us still do it, perhaps out of habit. The opening is too small to achieve adequate air circulation. Pouring wine into a balloon-shaped glass will work, as does the wildly popular wine aerators on the market that can be dropped in to the top of a wine bottle or decanter, or handheld above a wine glass. Aerators come in various shapes, sizes, and prices. They’re fun to use at wine-tasting parties as a before-and-after taste test. The results may surprise you! Decanting wine is more useful for filtering out sediment than it is for oxidation because most decanters have a narrow opening, similar to wine bottles, which is why a wide-mouthed ceramic or glass pitcher works quite well.
This brings me to the latest trend in aeration called hyperdecanting, a name and method coined by former Microsoft CTO and master chef Nathan Myhrvold. Hyperdecanting replaces the “breathing” process, which can take up to three hours, down to a minute. Using a blender. Pour the wine into a blender, process at high speed for up to 60 seconds, then wait until the foam subsides before serving. The foam? In my opinion, wine and foam should probably not be mentioned together! A handheld aerator takes about 20 seconds per glass and is much less violent than a blender and is a good conversation piece. I suppose blending the wine at your next party would also spark some conversation. But for me, whenever possible, I and my glass of wine will ….. just breathe.
In just six weeks I shall be following the Rhone River in search of bibulous adventures where that river rushes past Vienne and Valence like the rest of us in a hurry to get to the Mediterranean Sea. I show no remorse when I admit that wines from the Rhone Valley rank among my favorite, not just the highly-prized Hermitage and Chateauneuf du Pape, but also the down-scale daily-use wines of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre, and Carignan. Nor are the white wines uninteresting. And, of course, the cooking is grand. It’s probably impossible to find a bad meal in the Rhone Valley.
I have just received an announcement that adds an edge to my upcoming visit. It has its roots in a squat little bottle of Cellier de Dauphin I used to get in the French Army canteens in Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden. It was an inexpensive Syrah-based Rhone for only about three tax-free dollars in the early 1970s and was exceptionally quaffable.
Since then, I haven’t seen those bottles, but the company that produced them has just released three new wines aimed at expanding consumer knowledge of Rhone wines. The three wines bear the label Les Dauphins and focus on three separate villages: Puymeras, Visan, and St-Maurice. Generally wines from this region are blends of grapes from various places, but these wines are single-village wines, that is, all the grapes in the wine come from specific vineyards within the village.
The wines will be formally introduced at the annual Mainz Wine Trade Show on the 15th of this month and in London on March 24. The announcement I received doesn’t indicate a USA launching, so until I find out when and where, I shall go on using Cote-du-Rhones just as always. Not a bad fate.
This is my final blog. I want to thank Kathryn Gardiner for the opportunity to write for the Hoosier Wine Cellar. This assignment encouraged me to learn more about wine than I ever would have otherwise.
I’m especially grateful for the mentoring and influence of our local treasure, Ole “Pontiff of Palate” Olson. His years of experience and depth of knowledge are “mellowed” by his humility and generosity of spirit.
I also want to thank the Oliver family for setting the stage for the nearly 100 Indiana wineries. Without Bill Oliver, Sr.’s legal wrangling and the historic roadside stand selling Camelot Mead, well, let’s just say he paved the way for other wineries and provided the launching pad for many of our other vintners. Too bad we still can’t buy alcohol on Sundays at grocery stores!
Thanks, also, for all the input and encouragement from friends and strangers. I leave with this advice: Do as the Romans do–in other words, drink in local wines and beverages, pairing it with local favorite delicacies. Do your homework–Google everything! Travel, enjoy life and love your friends and family! Best wishes and much love! SueOLDER POSTS »