New wine lovers often wonder why it is common practice to swirl a glass of wine before enjoying it. When wine is agitated, it releases what is scientifically referred to as “volatile chemical components.” When we swirl a wine, these aromatic components are released so you can experience every intended aroma. This is also known as “tasting with your nose.” So, swirl it like you mean it, and enjoy every facet of your glass!
“Anatomically” speaking, the legs of wine are the tear-shaped drops and streaks that appear vertically on the sides of a glass when swirled. Leg formation is the result of fluid surface tension between alcohol and water.
Legs typically do not add to or enhance wine quality other than generally indicating higher alcohol content or perhaps a richer texture and fuller body. That’s why they’re especially prominent in fortified wines and high-proof spirits. The quantity and demarcation of legs will vary with the temperature of the wine.
If you’ve asked this age-old question, you aren’t alone. Wine enthusiasts have long debated how long a bottle of wine lasts after opening. If you want to enjoy your wine with its intended flavor profile intact, we advise following these recommendations.
Lower-acid white wine can generally last 2-3 days, while high acidity will keep your wine fresh and vibrant for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Low-tannin reds (like pinot noir and merlot) will last 2-3 days. Higher-tannin reds should be very drinkable for up to 5 days after opening.
The primary concern once a bottle has been opened is exposure to oxygen, heat, and light. If the bottle is greater than half full, evacuated, and refrigerated, the wine should stay in a suitable condition for up to a week – as long as the bottle isn’t repeatedly opened and closed during this time.
“Dry,” “semi-dry,” and “sweet” refer to a level of sweetness or residual sugar in a wine. Wine is considered “dry” when all of the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation. A “sweet” wine, on the other hand, has more residual sugar leftover from fermentation.
Dry wine typically contains less than 10 grams/liter of sugar or 1%, whereas a sweet wine is generally less than 50 grams/liter or 5% residual sugar. “Semi-dry” or “semi-sweet” wines fall in between this range and will vary by acid level and varietal society. For instance, the International Riesling Foundation has its own sweetness scale based on residual sugar, pH, and acidity.
A “blend” is a wine made up of more than one grape varietal.
Blending allows the winemaker to create a new and consistent wine from finished high-varietal wines. Blends offer the opportunity to create high-quality branded wines for a given winery to develop uniqueness in the marketplace. Occasionally, wines can be blended for the wrong reason– like masking an unfavorable characteristic of a varietal or attempting to cheapen the end product. Every single blend we create at Anyela’s Vineyards aims to increase quality, taste, and mouthfeel.
Unlike a blended wine, a “varietal wine” is made from a specific variety of grapes.
For example, Riesling is made from the Riesling grape, thus making it a varietal. Different grape varieties grow better in different regions based on their environment, climate, and growing conditions. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon does well on the west coast of the U.S. because the climate is drier, warmer, and ideal for a longer ripening season. Rieslings typically fare better on the east coast of the U.S. because their white grape varieties require less time to ripen.
Sulfites, also commonly called sulfur dioxide, are chemical compounds that contain sulfite ions. They are found naturally in a variety of food sources, including black tea, peanuts, and eggs. Sulfites are used as a preservative in many foods and beverages to slow deterioration. Winemakers utilize sulfites to minimize oxidation, prevent discoloration, and maintain freshness. Sulfites also have antimicrobial properties and can prevent bacterial growth, prolonging the shelf life of the wine.
The answer greatly depends on the type of wine. Most white wines should be consumed within two to three years of bottling. However, fine white wines from Burgundy (French Chardonnays) that have been aged in oak barrels can be enjoyed up to 10+ years of age.
Red wine, on the other hand (especially full-bodied red wines with plenty of tannins), can benefit from a longer cellar aging time within the bottle (10-15 years). When aging wine, oxygen is the enemy. A consistent temperature of 50-55F is optimal for producing the highest quality finished product.
Complexities aside, the answer is no. The ever-evolving nature of wine depends on what goes into a bottle– and what goes into a bottle is dictated by the quality of grapes.
The main elements of grapes are sugar, acid, and phenolics (tannins, which are mainly found in red grapes from the stems, seeds, and skins). The ripeness of grapes dictates acid and tannin levels. Perfectly ripe grapes yield appropriate acidity, which transfers vibrance and freshness to the wine. Grapes considered “too ripe” generally yield lower acid and produce a “flatter” wine, resulting in bitterness and sourness.
Tannins give the wine structure, depth, and mouthfeel. They can also add complexity to the wine during the aging process. For a wine to benefit the most from aging, it must contain the right amount of acid and tannins. It should also be temperature-controlled at 50-55°F during the process.
There are two main reasons for decanting wine.
The first is physical—to separate clarified wine from solids that have formed during aging.
The second is the effect of oxidation and evaporation; both affect our perception of flavor, texture, and aroma. Oxidation and evaporation both seem to help dissipate some of the harsher aromatic components in aged wine but can simultaneously make a wine more aromatically pleasing.
Rather than 2-3 hours of decanting, it typically takes months or even years to modify the tannic structure of a wine. A fragile or aged wine should be decanted 30 minutes before serving. Younger wines should be decanted for 1-2 hours before serving. However, you should know your wine before you “air it” because some wines behave differently when decanted compared to others.
A traditional wine bottle is 750 ml, which contains about 25 oz of wine. A standard wine pour is about 150 ml or 5 oz. This makes the math easy; 25 oz per bottle or 5 oz per pour equals five glasses of wine/bottle.
A standard wine pour is 5 ounces. The perception of how generous 5 ounces of wine is, is relative to the glass you’re pouring it into. A typical serving size of 5 ounces of Pinot Noir in a 20-ounce Burgundy glass may appear a bit frugal. No matter the size of the glass, the top of the pour should be no higher than mid-bowl. This allows ample room for observation and swirling (agitation) without the concern of spilling.
It is possible to make white wine from red grapes because the juice of grapes does not contain color pigments– it is clear. Color pigments reside within the skins, which are called anthocyanins. The color in wine is extracted from the skin once the grapes are crushed and fermented.
When the grapes are allowed to ferment with the skin, the skin breaks down, and the pigments are released and dispersed in the wine to yield a red color. If you do not ferment the juice with skins and extract it immediately after pressing, there will be no color – thus producing a white wine from red grapes.
Let us start by saying no, no, and no! Twist-off bottles are not inferior to corked wines, and in some ways, might keep the wine from spoiling. The objective of a wine bottle closure is to keep oxygen out of the bottle. “Cork” itself is harvested from the bark of Cork Oak Trees. Cork varies in density which can grow porous over time, thus allowing oxygen to enter the bottle and possibly spoil the wine. On the other hand, a twist top is engineered to create a tight seal, which prevents the oxygen from entering the bottle.
In summary, a twist top is not inferior to cork. However, it may not live up to the satisfying and time-honored tradition of “popping the cork”!
The simplest definition of organic wine is “a product that has been certified to organic standards by law.” If a wine is labeled organic, you can be certain it has met strict requirements covering everything from pesticide use, land management of the vineyard, and the preservation of said wine.
While a fine wine can be organic, it cannot be vegan. To “fine” a wine, winemakers add a fining agent to the freshly pressed juice. Common fining agents used in winemaking often contain animal-derived products, which include casein (milk protein), albumin (egg white), isinglass (fish bladder), and gelatin, none of which are vegan-friendly.
Although the terms “vegan” and “organic” may go hand in hand, in the case of wine, this notion does not hold up. To our vegan friends, be attentive and always check the label or ask us directly.