One of the things I really enjoy about wine is how it changes between pour and finish — the evolution of wine. This might be as simple as a bit of air opening up the fruity flavours of something simple, or observing a tightly wound young red unfurl its wings.
For this reason, when I know I’m going to have more than a single glass in a bar or restaurant, I will order several different wines at the same time. With whites, temperature is key…as a wine warms up its flavours become more expressive, acidity slowly takes a back seat, and any residual sugar will become more apparent.
If you love Alsace Riesling as I do, the difference between a producer’s standard offering and one from a Grand Cru vineyard will become more obvious. If the wines are too cold eg straight from a domestic fridge – then you might not think there’s much of a difference. “Why the fuss?” you might ask. Once they get to 10℃, you’re thinking “Now I see the difference”. And a few more degrees higher, “Wow, I’m over the regular stuff, Grand Cru is where it’s at!” is what you’re saying.
In my imagination, anyway.
For dry wines, obviously sweetness doesn’t come into it – actual sweetness doesn’t, that is; some wines can taste sweet if they are particularly fruity. Where a wine has been oaked in some way (see upcoming post on oak in wine), then if served too chilled it can taste bitter. For me, 10C is too cold, but if it gets poured at that temperature then the changes in the glass can be thrilling.
Here are 3 fantastic Chardonnays sold by the glass at Ely Wine Bar in Dublin:
- Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte 2011
- Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills M3 Chardonnay 2012
- Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011
For reds, temperature is also very important, but so is exposure to oxygen. If you have a decanter, or even a basic glass jug, you can get so much more taste (and therefore value) out of a full bottle if you decant it.
Of course, if you’re at an establishment which has a great selection by the glass, you won’t have to do that – pouring into a glass is sort of a mini version of decanting anyway.
Tasting wines at the same time gives you the opportunity to see how they evolve side by side – give it a try!