Wine etiquette

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by mschumacher, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The screw cap is really coming into its own as a closure on quality wine. It doesn't have the romance of a cork, but if everyone used them, I would never have to pour another bottle of corked wine down the drain again. I'll take good wine over the romance of the cork any day.
     


  2. marc237

    marc237 Senior member

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    A few things:

    1. Definitely sip first. Wine can go bad for a variety of reasons (corked, cooked, exposed to air) and it is good to know before it is poured. If you are uncertain as to whether you can tell, no shame seeing whether anyone else at the table has greater experience.

    2. Carefully check label before wine is opened. As Globetrotter noted, in a great many restaurants, the practice is to stay with the same produced vintage after vintage. The restaurant does not always update the winelist. Accrdngly, you may be served a 2000 when you had ordered a 1999. I have also had distracted waiters bring the white of a certain label when I had ordered the red. Restaurants are busy places and things happen.

    3. It is fine to inspect the cork to assure yourself that the vintage/maker is the same as on the label. But, except with very high-end wines, wine forgery is just not that much of a problem. Visual flaws with the cork may be an indicator of lurking problems with the wine, but may not. Better to just rely on the wine itself to judge wether it has spoiled. No point in smelling the cork at all.
     


  3. Drew

    Drew Well-Known Member

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    It is also for you to approve that the markings of the cork match those of the bottle. Two things you should never do: "¢Â Hold the wine up to light and swirl it around, because you don't know what you're looking for (and neither do I.) "¢Â Sniff the cork. As has been discussed, you're looking for obvious discoloration (ie mold) and that the markings match those of the bottle. I've heard it said that the whole wine presentation evolved from distrust of the waiter. As a waiter, I equally endorse as well as disagree with these reasons. javascript:emoticon [​IMG]
     


  4. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    I'm going to jump in here only because I love wine....

    The sommalier (pronounced, for those who don't know, "soma-leeay") should show you the wine label first. This is so you can see that it is the wine your ordered. It happens quite often that the wrong year wine is brought. If you don't know what is a good year and what isn't, then it's no big deal. If you do, and the diff. year is not as good, then it's definitely a reason to send back the bottle -- I've done it plenty of times (for this reason only -- I've never encountered a bottle of wine that is corked or spoiled in a restaurant).

    I don't worry much about a moldy cork. Lots of older bottles have moldy corks. It's rare to see though unless you're buying a bottle of wine that's more than 7 or 8 years old.

    The sommalier will then pour a small bit in your glass. Sniff it, then drink a small sip. If it's OK, tell him -- "that'll be fine" or similar words. (Note, corked wine smells moldy, and often smells worse than it tastes.) Then wait for him to pour your guests' glasses. Only then, IMO, should you take another sip, perhaps with a toast.

    Drink up.
     


  5. christian

    christian Senior member

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    I'm not a big fan of wine, but I've always wondered if its better to keep vintage wine. Sometimes, you'll hear about a 1929 vintage selling for thousands of dollars. Yet, I've also heard that keeping wine too long is bad too. Is there a tipping point where you want to keep wines around, where its good to let them age for a certain number of years. But, after that, the wine becomes spoiled?
     


  6. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    wine is fragile, you should be buying what you want to drink this year, unless you have a good storage facility (basically a basement or a temperature controlled cupboard), some extra money and a little knowledge.

    If you do have a basement (and are not planning on moving evry couple of years, cause that can ruin wine, too), you can seriously consider buying good new wine by the case and storing it for future drinking.

    unless you can document your storage facilities, you can't really sell wine that you stored yourself, so don't think of it as a possible source of profit. What can happen is that you can find that your $1000 investment today became 24 $300 bottles of wine, 7-10 years from now.

    if you have children, you can put away wine for them, which could put them in a position to drink really expensive wine when they are older.

    but be warned, often the wine can turn, if you move it too much, if the temperature fluctuates too much, if you don't rotate the bottles the right way, or a variety of other influences, can leave you with some very expensive vinigar.

    this is the type of thing that warrents a trip to the library or amazon, if you want to try it. I have poured literally hundreds of bucks worth of bad wine way, over the years.
     


  7. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Christian,

    You should do some experimenting. Probably 99.9% of the world's wines are meant for consumption within the next few years -- basically, immediate consumption -- as they will not "improve" with age. Also, unless you have good storage conditions as noted by globetrotter, the wines will go bad quicker (or, if you store wine above your fridge or in some other warm, bright and jiggling location, much quicker) than they otherwise would. As a general rule, the darker the wine, the "hardier" it is -- thus, cabs and merlots will last longer even under lousy conditions than most pinot noirs. And most reds will last longer than white wines (though there are exceptions, such as some German and Austrian whites). Anyway, you shouldn't worry about it too much if you're just starting to drink or collect wine. Find a good quiet, coldish, dark location in your house, buy wine, enjoy it. Buy some older bottles at a good wine store or restaurant to see if you even like the taste. Many people are very disappointed in the taste of older wines, as they can/do have an entirely different taste than the wines when young. Often, the big fruit of a new wine fades with time. Some people like what remains; some don't.
     


  8. christian

    christian Senior member

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    I'm not a big drinker myself, but my father is. He has these all these old bottles, which he lets them sit. He claims that they will get better with age. There's a huge variation, with the cheaper $10 bottles from Trader's Joe to the more expensive Hennesy and Don Perignon.

    So, its a bad idea for myself to try to keep wine around. But, what about restaurants. Will their wine get better with age, assuming it has been stored properly?
     


  9. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    And Yquem. Especially Yquem.
     


  10. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Again, it depends on the wine and on the vintage. Restaurants with the proper storage facilities and wine buyers who know what they're doing, yes. For most restaurants, no.
     


  11. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    if you know what you are doing, and have proper storage then yes, most good wine will get better with age. that "age" may be 5 years, or it may be 25, in rare instances more. but lets put it this way, all the of ceramony of tasting the wine is aimed at detecting the damage done by improper storage of wine, or to be more gentle, bad luck in storing wine.
     


  12. Zubberah

    Zubberah Senior member

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  13. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Amen to that. Screwcap aesthetics may not be the best (although they are improving), but they make little difference to me when I consider that wine in screwcapped bottles won't be corked.
     


  14. Zubberah

    Zubberah Senior member

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    It's not only TCA/corked that is the issue with cork but also random oxidation, bottle variation (buy a dozen wines, cellar for 5 years and don't be surprised if not one bottle tastes the same as another.), premature leakage, mould seepage etc. In fact, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation puts the entire cork-related problems on bottled wines as high as 30% being faulty.

    Some people detest Stelvin. Well, that is irrational - it is just a seal - and I drink wine, and don't make love to corks. If you do, I'm happy to send you my left over corks. And you can compensate me for the stuffed wines due to TCA, random oxidation, leakage and other cork realted quality problems. Romance is in the bottle not in a damn seal.

    And I wonder if those who are so resolutely opposed to screwcaps on aesthetic grounds apply similar standards to the bottle shapes, or indeed labels, of the wines they buy? You wouldn't exactly say the Cheval Blanc or Grange label is a thing of beauty, would you? But who says, "That's a dull label, I won't buy that wine..." ?

    The old adage "There are no great wines; just great bottles" is precisley because of cork. It is testimony to the random and deleterious impact of cork - not just TCA but random oxidisation and leakage. And if there comes a better seal than screw cap then I too will use it.

    The only criticisms of Stelvin have been some reduction (eggy) notes in wines that were not carefully bottled - Stelvin requires more care in filling - and the industry have now identified the problem and fixed it.

    The other problem with screw caps is the marketing stupidity did enormous disservice to the technology way back when. It was used in jug wine or plonk, as us Aussies call it. Hard to break this association for casual wine drinkers.

    This has been overturned in Australi, with ultra-premium wineries like Moss Wood, Cullen and Kays Amery selling their screw capped wines out well before the cork sealed bottles. In fact these companies have now moved to 100% screw cap given the demand.
     


  15. jcusey

    jcusey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You're preaching to the choir, Chickpea. I was using "corked" as an all-purpose shorthand for any of the cork-related maladies that you've mentioned.

    I've had bottle after bottle after bottle ruined by faulty corks. People say that you should just take them back to the retailer for a refund. Well, it may have been months or years since I bought them, and I may not have the receipt. On top of that, it's a felony in my state to transport an open bottle of alcohol in my car.

    Yes, screwcaps are the way to go. Hostility to them is the very caricature of mindless conservatism.
     


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