Last weekend, I flew to Moncton to work a wine trade show. I know what you are thinking and yes, my job IS awesome!
This is only my second wine show so I was feeling a little nervous about the questions I was going to be asked. The truth is that after one year of working in the wine industry, I am still not entirely comfortable discussing wine. People assume that I must be an expert and I’m far from it. I’m working on it though and if it means that I need to keep attending wine tastings to get better at my job, well then, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
I did, however, learn some useful pieces of “wine wisdom” that I’d like to share:
1. Not all wine gets better with age. In fact, 90% of wine that you buy is meant to be consumed in the first year. Now hold on, don’t go rushing out and drinking everything on your wine rack. Sitting there might not be improving the taste of your wine but that 2012 Chardonnay you’ve been saving will still have a good shelf life for another couple of years. Most wines have a shelf life of up to 5 years. How will you know which wines will keep? Let’s just say if you bought it for $14.99, don’t be saving that one for your grandchild’s retirement.
2. What is dry wine? This one always puzzled me. It’s a liquid, not a cracker. Most people will answer that dry wine causes your mouth to go dry. While this is true, the real definition of dry is the lack of residual sugar in the wine. During the wine making process, grape sugar is converted to alcohol. The amount of remaining sugar, also known as residual sugar will indicate if a wine is dry (no sugar) or sweet (lots of sugar) or semi-sweet (somewhere in the middle). I guess calling it “sour” would not be as appealing.
3. Is cork really better? The short answer is no. Whether the bottle is cork or screw cap makes no difference to the quality of wine. In fact, screw cap makes it easier to seal if you don’t end up finishing the bottle. I’m assuming most people don’t have any wine left in the bottle to realize how much better screw top is, so to this I say – it’s also easier to open. Duh! #teamscrewcap
4. Oxygen can be a friend. It’s true that oxygen can spoil wine that’s being stored so in that case, oxygen is not a friend. But once you pop that cork or unscrew the cap, oxygen isn’t a bad thing. If you air out your red a bit, it opens up the aromas and the overall flavour will improve. Don’t be afraid to let your wine sit in the glass for a good 15-20 minutes before drinking it. If you can last that long, trust me, it will taste better.
5. What to do with leftover wine? It’s not a myth, it happens and it’s okay. Day old wine might not taste as good as the day it was open but if you seal it and stick it in the fridge, yes even red, you can still enjoy a glass the next day. In fact, here’s a general rule to follow: you can refrigerate the amount of glasses left. So a 750 mL wine bottle usually holds 5 glasses of wine. If you have 4 left, you can refrigerate for 4 days, 3 glasses 3 days, etc. The key is not to leave it on the countertop. Not that I will ever test out this rule but that’s what I’ve been told.
Hopefully you weren’t looking for more scientific nuggets of information. I’m still a rookie but I’m headed to Napa next week. Another work trip 🙂 So in the name of research, stay tuned for more wine wisdom!