Wine Clinic – Your Questions Answered

1. Why is the right temperature so important when serving sparkling wines and Champagne?Bubbles are an integral part of the pleasure of champagne appreciation and the rate at which they are released is determined by temperature. Serving champagne anywhere between 4.5°C to 7°C is perfect for a slow release of the mousse. But remember, if you serve a champagne too cold, all the aromas will be suppressed and it will taste practically flavourless. On the other hand, if you were to serve champagne at room temperature, the bottle would be extremely dangerous to open because the wine would immediately explode from its container, froth up and then go flat.

2. What kind of glasses should I use for wine?
Opt for clear, uncut glasses that are fine and not too thick. Ideally, you should have three varieties: A stemmed glass with a large bowl for red wine. To allow the wine to be gently swirled around in the glass, fill it to a maximum of quarter-full. These days large fishbowl glasses are losing favour so get a medium one that can also be used for white wine. But if you are particular,  you will want a separate white wine glass which is usually smaller than a red wine goblet. The best shape for both is tulip, ie, slightly tapered at the rim for funneling aromas up to your nose. Tall flutes are ideal for sparkling wines as they help keep the bubbles for longer. The preferred shape here too is tulip shaped.

3. What is meant by “extreme viticulture”?
This refers to grapes grown in areas where the conditions for cultivation are extremely difficult. In high altitude conditions harvesting phas to be done by hand and transpostation is difficult. Yet, there are also great advantages in growing vines on the steep slopes. The roots may grow deeper in the typical mineral slate soil, with a perfect exposure for each single vine in the vineyard. And there is the possibility of selecting every single berry because of picking by hand. This combination of soil, sun-exposure and selection leads to unique wines (especially Rieslings) which stand out for fruitiness and balanced acidity in perfect interaction with the typical slate mineral.

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4. How can I extract a broken wine cork?
A cork that has crumbled, or is very tightly compacted, is best removed by inserting the corkscrew at an angle, since this offers good leverage. Move the bottle as gently as possible. Insert the corkscrew diagonally across the cork. Pull smoothly, trying to keep the bottle as steady as possible. Pry the cork out carefully, keeping the angle and being careful not to allow any crumbs to fall into the bottle.

5. How long will an open bottle of wine stay fresh?
Air acts on wine from the moment the bottle is opened, and although it will not spoil (oxidize) for several days, wine is at its best and freshest when it is first opened. If you know you can’t finish wine in one sitting, re-cork it tightly and refrigerate as soon as possible. White wines should last around two days, reds for three to four, although both will taste a little flatter for having been open.

6. Is it OK to switch between red and white wines for different courses?
The recommended drinking order is to to ascend in quality and flavour, but always consider what food you are serving if the wine is to accompany a meal. As a rule of thumb
• Serve cheap before expensive. Step back in quality is noticeable.
• Drink dry wine before sweet. Sweet wines make dry taste very acidic.
• Light wines should come before full-bodied wines. Weighty and fortified wines will overpower a lighter wine.
• Serve young wines before older vintages.

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