For some years the wine has not been drunk: it is “tasted”. And without disturbing the irresistible parody of Antonio Albanese, we all remember more or less hilarious episodes about experts or self-styled ones intent on swirling the glass expressing themselves in daring and incomprehensible metaphors to most.
So let’s leave the tasting to the technicians and the satire to the comedians, and let’s dedicate ourselves to our glass of wine: how to drink it to fully enjoy it, to enhance it, and not to ruin it.
Like almost everything in wine, there are no indications that are valid for every situation. Standing or lying down, the bottle is comfortable in a certain position according to its contents. But we have a couple of certainties: to be sure not to mistreat our bottle, we keep it away from light and possibly from sudden changes in temperature, which are the real enemy.
The serving temperature
Here everyone’s sensitivity and taste come into play, but some physical and physiological effects are unavoidable. The cold tarnishes the aromas, flattens the taste and enhances the tannins, and is capable of transforming a sip of red wine into a sandpaper passage on the taste buds. The heat, on the other hand, emphasizes alcohol and spices. So although it is not possible to recommend one and only one ideal temperature for all occasions, it is worth knowing as a general rule that the more the wine ages the more it likes mild temperatures., and that even white wines and sparkling wines are good below 6/8 ° only for the time they are uncorked and poured into the glass. We will not be upset if we allow a young red to take a few degrees of cold, perhaps served with a nice roasted fish.
The delicate moment, when separating the cork from the riverbed that has held it in his lap for years is a trauma. It must be done with a firm and delicate hand at the same time, taking care to sink the worm well and “listen” to its strength so as not to tear the cap. If it is true that some very mature wines require some time to express themselves, it is also true that if a wine has something to express, it already does so in a quarter of an hour. Then he can improve or not, but if he doesn’t speak he won’t speak. Let’s not grieve too much and pour our Big Old Man into a pot-bellied chalice and air it at the moment, it will accompany us for a long time.
Long studies and endless tastings have shown that the same wine in two different glasses has different behavior. Yes, this is an exercise for great experts: we who want wine “only” to drink it will prefer to pour it into a dropped glass, large enough to circulate air, and we will not fill it more than ¼ of its capacity. The stem is preferred, the fine crystal as well.
When the wine presents itself, it does so with a business card that is all its history: the reboating foam for sparkling wines, the calm tones of fresh white wines and the warm and reassuring ones of the more mature ones; the orange nuances of the macerated wines, the range of ruby and purple for the roster. The warmer color indicates – as a first approximation – a greater refinement, a passage in wood, a long rest. A dedicated coloring can mean altitude, aroma, freshness. A glance prepares us for tasting, but the investigative maneuvers with the white sheet of paper and the backlit analysis can say something to the technician or the professional, not to us who just want to empty that glass.
This is the most spectacular phase of the tasting but it is also very important for a simple drink. We call “ descriptors ” those references that allow us to find analogies for the chemical components of wine, referring to the organoleptic map of each of us. If we say “enamel” it is easier for us to identify and tell a sensation than if we recall “acetaldehyde”, a compound that perhaps someone smelled in the laboratory. Let’s precede the tasting with a passage on the nose, perhaps after briefly oxygenating the wine in the glass. Let’s admire its whole, its depth , intensity, persistence, evocation if we are really in the mood for romanticism: but we leave “the memory of catmint” to those who have to explain the wine from a distance.
There is a real encyclopedia of wine defects, but here we limit ourselves to remembering those that really represent an obstacle. The first, the scent of cork, is easily recognizable even without special preparations. When we warn it we can only grope to wait for the wine for some time, hoping that it is an exhalation only similar to a cork and that it goes away by ventilating. Also unpleasant are the sensations of the enclosure, of stagnant water, of animal fur, or on the other front of acidity and acetic cue. The enthusiast will be able to list the technical names, from oxidation to reduction, from “brett” too volatile, but the important thing is not to panic. If the bottle conquered with so much expense and effort does not reward, before dedicating it to the sink it is better to wait a few hours. Sometimes the defect disappears. Sometimes.
Paradoxically, the moment to taste wine is not decisive alone. In fact, compared to the sense of smell, a much more precise and sensitive sense, the taste is primitive, limited, and imprecise. There are few sensations that can be registered with a sip, and it is above all to complete them that it is necessary to smell and impress the nuances well. While drinking we will be inebriated by the “touch” of the wine, from the most polished and smooth aromatic white to the dustiest and demanding red, from the exciting saltiness of the sparkling wine to the infinite embrace of a very sweet passito. A small sip, to be held in the mouth a moment before swallowing. Licensed speaking, rattling wines on the palate or between the teeth adds nothing to understanding …
After the sip, that moment is at least as important as we have done so far. Not only because the aftertaste and aftertaste really tell that “everything else” that requires a little persistence on our taste buds and on our palate. But also because the millennial sense of satisfaction of good glass is released right after we have swallowed. So after drinking, we dedicate a moment to that enjoyment that we have earned up to here. Then, of course, we can also remember that wine is a piece of history, culture, places, and men who have worked and lived, but for the moment that’s enough.
Little but good
Not only because the rules and customs dictate it: driving while intoxicated is irresponsible. But also because repetition inexorably obeys the law of decreasing marginal return: the result is maximum only at the first test, then the perception of satisfaction begins to decline. So it is better to keep the bar high: we drink consciously and do everything we can not to waste that treat we have in the glass, perhaps with the right dish in front of us. But that’s another story.
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