Wine is alive. It changes all the time!
A bottle of wine may seem fixed and unchanging, but inside there are complex chemical transformations causing constant evolution and change… particularly if the wine is not doused with preservatives.
Tannins, for example, are just one of the molecules that contribute to the changes a wine undergoes. Originating in the stems, seeds and skins, tannins are responsible for the sensation of astringency. A young, tannic wine will leave your mouth feeling dry and puckered, much like a green banana will. Over time and with the right conditions, however, tannins will soften and give way to secondary aromatics like earthiness, nuttiness, and other nuanced expressions. By reacting with the wine’s alcohols and esters, they subdue the flowery, fruity aromas of youth and transform them into more complex, subtle scents that often more deeply express the place where the vines grew.
Transformations like these and countless others are always happening in wine. Wine is not fixed. White wine (one that is well made and not shut down with chemicals) will broaden in flavor and texture over time. The acids will soften and the texture may become more creamy or silky. A red wine’s aromatics may be hidden or shy at the start time. How much time? It is all relative and depends on thousands of tiny factors.
This is to say: wine is inherently unpredictable and ultimately inconsistent when it’s made without loads of technology. So I challenge you to embrace it. Love the changes your wine undergoes. Explore new flavors and ask yourself if it tastes the same today as it did last month. Find the nuance. It is not unlike the subtle changes we undergo as new experiences change the way we see and experience the world.
We’d love to hear what you are drinking right now! Share it on Twitter (@wine_ecng) or in the shop. Let us know what you’d like to learn more about! We’re happy to research it for the next Wine Words. Last month a customer requested glossary terms, which is a great idea. Here is our first installment:
Aeration: Encouraging a wine to interact with oxygen (breathing). Decanting or swirling the wine in a glass are preferred methods for young wines. Ten to thirty minutes can help open a wine up and release aromatics. It can also help when some wines develop certain kinds of off odors that will blow off after air contact. Aeration is not recommended for older red wines (15-plus years), which are more delicate and can lose their remaining fruit aromas during aeration.
Wine of the Month (while supplies last):
Forgive me if I use a lot of exclamation points, but I am really excited about Cruse Wine Co.’s 2013 Valdiguié from Rancho Chimiles Vineyard, Napa Valley, California.
This wine is unreal! A mind-bending take on what has become a more common varietal! This is not a carbonic, fruity, Gamay-like version. Cruse pulled all the sensual, silky, seamless, subtle, creamy texture out of the grape while respecting the enticing spice aromatics. This isn’t just that cool-kids-lesser-known-wine-grape wine; it’s knock-your-socks-off good red wine! But here’s the kicker: it was a tiny production to boot and we got the last 1.5 cases. So, get it while you can!
It’s on our shelves for $25.99!