Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Storing Wine: What You Should Know

INTRODUCTION

Whether you buy 10 bottles or a thousand bottles of wine, if you don’t drink the wine within 6 months, you should be aware of the proper method for storing the bottles correctly. Storing wine incorrectly can lead to spoilage or premature aging of the wine.
Correct method to store wine can be said in one sentence:
Store wine bottles tilted downward on a vibration free shelf, (so the wine is in complete contact with the cork), in a cool, dark, damp area, surrounded with odorless air at a temperature varying no more than 10 degrees between 40F to 65F, with 70% humidity.
Here we will discuss how your storage environment can affect the quality of the stored wine. The first and probably the most important item is the cork in the neck of the bottle and how humidity and the quality of the air can affect that cork. Proper lighting, correct temperature range, and stability of the shelving that your bottles rest on will also determine if the wine you so carefully chose will last for years or easily become very undrinkable in a very short time.

WET CORKS
While corks seem to be made of solid material, they are actually made up of hundreds of air pockets which allow air to pass through. If not kept moist, cork will dry out, shrink and become brittle. Cork is compressed into the neck of the wine bottle to make as tight a seal as possible against the glass, allowing little air to penetrate into the wine. Allowed to dry out, the cork will shrink, air will enter the wine and turn the wine sour or into vinegar – quite undrinkable.
Best Solutions:
1) Bottle Angle DO NOT STORE WINE BOTTLES UPRIGHT! An easy (and cheap) way to keep the cork wet is to lay the wine bottle on its side horizontally and slightly tip the bottle neck downward enough to completely cover the bottom of the cork in the wine bottle neck. This will keep the cork moist and air away from the wine.
2) Moisture Easiest done in a small enclosed environment, use a humidifier to keep the ideal humidity of 70%. If you can’t get it exactly at 70%, try to keep the humidity between 50% and 80%. This will keep corks moist and air away from the wine.

Since wet corks are full of air pockets and will absorb surrounding odors, you must be concerned about the odors in the air around the corks.
AIR QUALITY:  Keep the air clean and odorless to prevent the cork from absorbing any strong odors (such as fried onions or garlic from the kitchen) or musty smells (from a damp basement) and hence, tainting the wine.
Best Solution: Use a circulating fan.


MOVING WINE
Wine ages best when left undisturbed. This allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle and lets the wine develop a balanced taste. Correctly stored wine is lying horizontally, with the neck tilted slightly downward. If you need to read the label to decide which bottle you would like to open, keep the bottle horizontal as you remove it from the shelf. Read the label while the bottle is still horizontal. This way, if you don’t use that bottle, you can replace it on the shelf with very little shaking of the wine, and the sediment can continue to settle, aging the wine.
In some cabinet wine coolers, the starting and stopping of some motors used to run the lights, fans and humidifiers, can cause excessive shelf vibrations.
Best Solution: Check manufacturer’s specs and get the lowest vibration motor possible for what you need and don’t move wine bottles more than necessary.

LIGHTING
Wine ages by fermentation. Fermentation needs a cool, dark and damp environment. If your storage area is always lit with strong light, or windows allow sunlight to touch the wine bottles, the wine may age faster than normal. The acid, tannins and sugars that define the characteristics of the wine, will not have enough time to fully balance.
Best solution: Store in a dark room or cabinet and use only dim light when necessary to view your selection of stored wine. If using a glass door, get the glass tinted dark.
TEMPERATURE
A slow change of 10 degrees per year will not adversely affect stored wine. A change of 10 degrees per day or week will cause the wine to age prematurely.
Best Solution: Keep the wine between the following temperatures:
Red Wine: 550F to 650F
White Wine: 500F to 560F
Rose Wine: 490F to 510F
Champagne: 530F to 590F
Sparkling Wine: around 400F
If using one compartment for multiple types of wine: around 600F

CONCLUSION
It’s a beautiful sight to see one hundred or more bottles of wine being stored properly. But, it does take a few dollars and some time and effort on your part, to do it right. For most of us, a collection of 5 to 10 bottles will suffice for all our needs. There are beautiful wine bottle stands, that sit on counters or floors that can keep your bottles safe until you use them. Obviously, if you use stands, you will not be concerned with what this article is about. The only suggestion we would make is that in the summer months, move the stand to the coolest place available and enjoy a great bottle of wine…SALUD!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sheldrake Point Dry Riesling 2011

Seems that whenever I start opening my Finger Lakes white wines, it gets a little difficult to stop.  I try to stick with red wines during the coldest time of the year, but lately, I've been putting my reds aside and finishing up my favorite white wines.
Tonight it was a multiple award winning Sheldrake Point dry Riesling 2011 ($16).  I reviewed the 2009 vintage about two years ago.   Also, this is one of the samples that was part of the Riesling launch celebration and virtual tasting this past September.  Loved the wine on that evening, so I picked up a few more in December at the winery.   Sheldrake Point Winery produces distinctive estate wines that showcase the quality of their Finger Lakes vineyard. Each of their estate wines is crafted to take advantage of the flavor and character of  the grapes grown on their 44-acre site overlooking Cayuga Lake.

It is being served tonight with a simple chicken stir-fry over rice.  I spice my portion up a little by adding some jalepeno slices.   I use the peppers in order to avoid the sodium rich soy sauce that was a mainstay for my stir-fry at one time.
On the nose I found lots of floral like aromas with some peach and mango.  A little lemon grass on the palate with some ripe delicious apple and a mix of passion fruit and mango.  Finish was medium with a touch of slate and lemon zest.  Pairing was nice.  I think it would have paired better with the soy sauce.  Suggested pairings would be with Asian food, chicken, salmon and tuna.  I also enjoyed later with a few light cheese bites. Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Long Point Winery Vidal Blanc 2011

I am starting to discover a fact that when one is away from a favorite wine, for whatever reason, cravings start to set in that need to be dealt with.  The only way I know of dealing with these cravings is to grab one of those favorites and enjoy.  That is what happened this week after month of denying myself a Finger Lakes white wine.  So without even asking, "what's for dinner, Shirl?," I opened a Long Point Winery Vidal Blanc 2011($11) that I picked up at the winery in December.

Long Point Winery is located on the east side of Cayuga Lake on scenic Route 90 in Aurora, New York. The winery sits on 72 acres of land overlooking beautiful Cayuga Lake. Known for producing the finest dry red and white wines, Long Point Winery has collected numerous awards for wines such as, red Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dry Riesling.
This Vidal Blanc was the gold medal winner at the 2010 New York State Fair and won gold(90 points) in the New York Wine & Food Classic.

Later I was informed by the boss that dinner would be turkey kielbasa with french fries, beans and sauerkraut.  That use to be a beer night until last year when I found it went well with Gewurztraminer.  This night I found that it was excellent with Vidal Blanc. 

Aromas were loaded with honeysuckle, white peach with a little honeydew melon and tropical fruits.  In the mouth there was tropical fruit, some lemon and a little honey like sweetness.  Long lemony finish was perfect with the kielbasa and kraut.  Finished this wine later in the evening and thoroughly enjoyed each sip.  Excellent wine, nice price. Very Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hudson Chatham Empire Red Reserve 2010

About a week ago I received a nice package from the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, NY.  The Hudson-Chatham Winery is the dream of Carlo and Dominique DeVito, both publishing professionals who have long shared a love of wine. This exciting new winery, which specializes in small hand-made batches of wine, is dedicated to the richness of the Hudson River Valley, particularly its wine, agriculture, literature, art, history, and many other attractions that make it a rich and special region. The Hudson-Chatham Winery, located  between the historic towns of Hudson and Chatham, is the first winery in Columbia County.

The package contained three Hudson-Chatham wines.  A 2011 Old Vines Baco Noir, a 2011 Baco Noir Reserve and a 2010 Empire Reserve Red Table Wine.

About two years ago, I reviewed the 2009 Old Vines Baco Noir and I'm very excited about tasting Carlo's latest release, but I am going to hold my excitement until we return from Florida in early March. The Empire Red, though, is being opened before our trip with a dinner of chicken breast filets done in a sauce of cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, corn starch, bouillon and apple slices served with fresh green beans and black rice.  The Empire Red is a blend of 33% Hudson Valley Baco Noir, 33% Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and 33% Long Island Merlot.

Very fruit forward aromas of black cherry and currant with a little earthy like herbal and hints of vanilla added on the palate. Finish was mid range, smooth with dark fruit and herbs.  A very nice wine to sip on it's own, but really showed off with dinner. Will do very well with grilled meats and Italian sauces or cheese filled manicotti.

Have no information on suggested price, but past vintages are in the $25 range and I would think that the 2010 will not be any different.  Highly Recommended