Wednesday, April 23, 2008
MIX 'n' MATCH
Lynn and I get some funny looks sometimes in wine bars and restaurants when we play around with our wine(s).
Sometimes, when we each order a different glass of wine, if one or both are not up to scratch we mix them both together and generally find that the sum is better than one or even both of them.
The wines don't have to be of the same varietal or even colour within limitations.
Riesling and Gewurtztraminer is an easy and very acceptable mix but a thin Chardonnay is helped by addition of Pinot Gris, Riesling or Viognier (and any Pinot Gris is improved with the addition of something else).
If we have a screwcap bottle of wine that is 'stinky' (too much SO2 added can cause this) we tip the whole lot out into a water jug and pour it back into the bottle. This 'decanting' usually gets rid of the offensive odour and aerates the wine as well making it a more enjoyable drink.
If we have a glass of wine that has a bit of sulphur stink in it we drop a copper coin in it which 'cleans' the wine (modern coins are not made of copper, I have a 1908 farthing that does the job).
As I said in the beginning we get funny looks from staff and other diners who seem to think that wine is delicate and precious and has to be treated reverently.
[Have you ever seen one of thos prats with a wine cradle (a sort of basket thing with a handle that a wine is laid in and carefully poured out at an almost horizontal angle? These things should be in museums. The initial function of these (and decanting which I will get to) was to carefully pour the wine while leaving behind the sediment that old (usually) red wines threw. This was done often if a wine hadn't been stood (taken from the cellar where it was horizontal and carefully stood upright one to two days before opening to enable the sediment to slide down the bottle and accumulate at the bottom) long enough or not decanted (carefully poured out from the bottle into a decanter, leaving the sediment behind).
Modern wines generally don't need decanting as they have been thoroughly filtered and are often drunk young. Decanting was once a ritual where a candle was held up to the neck of a bottle whilst being poured into a decanter, to see when sediment began to slide out. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary with proper lighting and a simple funnel will do the trick. For the rare wines that need decanting (very old wines, unfiltered wines and vintage ports) I have a silver funnel that does the job brilliantly. I simply pour the wine through the funnel into a decanter and the highly polished silver catches the light and I can see when sediment begins to show in the wine.]
Those prats who handle wine like it is fragile and who disapprove of others 'cavalier' approach should visit a winery where winemakers merrily pump wine from barrels into tanks, from tanks into barrels or generally all over the place through big black rubber hoses. They also blend all sorts of other wines into the main wine (current regulations in NZ is for wine to be 85% what it says on the label) and generally bugger around with it. Don't get me wrong, they are very proud of the wines they make and know that it is going to sell at premium prices, but reverential... no.