Chronicles for Wine Lovers
Between Chest and Back
The phrase, “the older the better” hasn’t done any favors to wine. Because of it, a lot of red wine already going downhill, on its way to becoming vinegar, keeps being sold.
In wines, aging is not the same as obtaining attributes due to maturity.”
Surf the net and look for old wines. You’ll find photos of old bottles covered in spider webs from 40, 60 years, or from over a century, supposedly valuable treasures, when in fact, the best cork in the world if it is not changed after 30 years (maximum) expires. It stops protecting the wine and allows the oxygen in the air to enter and contaminate the bottle.
Since 1864 in the world of connoisseurs, due to the experiences of Louis Pasteur, it’s common knowledge that when oxygen enters the bottle, it “kills the wine”.
Age as an attribute.
Age is a virtue only in the big and costly terroir wines, those that have just awakened from one hundred years of aging in a bottle, in special conditions.
The phrase, “the older the better” allows the inexperienced to evoke castles no one visits, but everyone id familiar with through photos.
Those castles boast of making wine with glamour: Chateau Laffite, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild, Margaux, and Countess Lalande’s wine, to mention only a few.
Those, and the nearby ones in Bordeaux, are great wines - made with a limited production (numbered bottles), with their selected grapes in small, well-cared-for vineyards that leave the castle five years after the harvest. They start showing their excellence after 7-10 years, on their way to maturity. Not when they’re 40 years old and in decline, because immortal wine does not exist.
Behind the legend that something so manly as wine becomes better as it ages, lie many ingenious phrases, social word plays, and metaphorical phrases. As Pablo Neruda did in the film Il Postino so that against all odds, the not-so-young, not-so-handsome mailman in the small Italian town would be able to seduce and keep the loveliest, youngest girl in the region.
In wines, old in itself doesn’t automatically mean better.
What Science Teaches Us
Two renowned researchers and winemakers from Chile, Felipe Laurie, and Alvaro Peña-Neira, thus explain what happens in the relation wine-oxygen-time:
“Contrary to what happens with other food products, controlled exposition to oxygen is essential for producing quality red wines. That’s why they need to “mature”.
In the winemaking practice, oxygenation of musts and wines during the process is unavoidable. Before it is bottled, the product is constantly exposed to contact with the air.
“When red wine is exposed to moderate concentrations of oxygen, benefits have been scientifically reported: color stabilization, as well as reduction of astringency and bitterness.
“However, when exposition to oxygen is widespread, the wine suffers significant organoleptic transformations that damage its definitive quality.
Likewise, famous Australian Professor Roger Boulton, from Davis University in California (1966), Danilewicz in 2003, and Waterhouse and Laurie in 2006, all claim and document the same opinion in their books.
Wine that has aged and died in a bottle because it wasn’t uncorked opportunely is no good. It tastes poorly, smells like vinegar; and is not even good in the kitchen,
If you own an excellent wine, the best place to secure it is between chest and back, declare the connoisseurs.
They’re undeniably right. Ask your friends how many bottles they’ve lost waiting for a better moment for uncorking them.
“Wine is made to be drunk, not secured”, states Spanish winemaker and professor, Mauricio Wiesenthal in his work “Everything you Need to Know About Wine”. Wine is a living being. It’s not going to get any better just by becoming old.