This is a summary of an article originally written by Kurt Friese, Chef/Author/Advocate.
- Older wine is better wine. The fact is, more than 95 percent of the wine sold today is best consumed the very same day. Aging can have a positive effect on a select few wines, but for the most part, brief aging has no effect whatsoever and can sometimes be harmful. Given enough time, any wine will become undrinkable. Takeaway: A wine is at its peak when you have one bottle left.
- The wine needs to breath. While interaction with oxygen does have an effect, simply opening the bottle and letting it stand for an hour only keeps you from drinking for an hour because the surface area exposed to air in the bottles neck is not enough to make a difference. To have an impact, wine has to be decanted, allowing far more molecules to interact with oxygen. That said, a majority of wines don’t need it. So pour the wine already.
- Smelling the cork. One sees people doing this a lot. It is customary for the server to open the wine in your presence, a practice that results from some less-than-scrupulous types pouring off the good stuff and replacing it with plonk. The server places the cork next to the person who ordered the wine. This is for your inspection, but only to see if the seal was a good one, something your nose can’t tell you. If the wine is more than a few years old it’s a good idea to feel the cork to see that it is moist indicating that it was stored properly. Look at it to see that the stains do not run the full length of the cork, which could indicate contamination. Smelling it will tell you none of these things because Cork smells like cork. Smell the wine instead.
- Screwcaps are only for cheap, low quality wine. This may once have been true, but today more and more wineries are waking up to the benefits of the screwcap. Excepting the loss of the romance and ceremony of pulling a cork from a bottle, the fact is the screwcap provides a better seal with estimates of loss due to cork taint and improper seals hovering between ten and fifteen percent. Screwcaps are here to stay.
- White wine with fish and white meat, red wine with red meat. The color of the wine should have little or no impact on why you choose it to go with a particular dish. Flavors, aromas and textures matter, but the color does not. Many fish dishes would go quite nicely with a well-made Pinot Noir, and conversely some grilled meats can handle an oaky Chardonnay. The best wine for the meal is the wine your palate likes.
- The right glass for the right wine. Companies like Riedel and Spiegelau would have you believe that each particular varietal calls for a particular size and shape of leaded crystal wine goblet. While a nice glass can add to your enjoyment, and those companies do indeed make very nice glasses, almost any glass that is taller than it is wide will suffice.
- A wine glass must be held by the stem. and a related myth, the one where, ostensibly to keep from warming the wine. Nonsense. Although using the stem will keep the glass looking better by preventing fingerprints, in reality it makes no difference. A glass needn’t even have a stem – If it gets the wine to your lips, it’ll probably be fine.
So, as Kurt Friese says “just relax and enjoy the wine, sans pretense”.