One of the most frequent questions I get when I lead consumer and educational wine tastings (and I’m leading one next week in Houston, btw) is the following: what’s the secret for conserving wine in the bottle once you’ve opened it? (and the corollary how long is the wine good for?)
My number one answer and secret? DRINK GOOD WINE! And the most important element in the wine for its longevity once opened? ACIDITY! (I know that my wine sisters and brothers will agree with me on this one — just think of the 1978 Barbera by Angelo Gaja that we opened a few years ago at Alfonso’s pad).
As a whole, Americans have been trained by the Military-Industrial Complex to drink wines with LOW acidity, high alcohol, and concentrated jammy fruit — wines that have a short shelf life and wines that won’t last long once opened. (Sorry to sound like a broken record!)
But when you buy and spend some time with wines with healthy acidity, you’ll find that the wines will last longer — much longer — once opened. Wake up, America! It’s time to smell the
coffee good wine!
Above: With much lighter tannic structure and body, the acidity in the 2008 Rosso di Montalcino kept the wine alive for no fewer than 3 days — no refrigeration, no pumping, no nothing… just the cork that the bottle was born with.
Truth be told: when Tracie P and I opened a bottle of 2004 (not an easy vintage in Tuscany despite what some would have you believe) Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva the other night, we drank the whole bottle between the two of us at the dinner table. It was a Saturday night, we were staying in, and this bottle — with GORGEOUS, stunning acidity, brilliant fruit, and lusty alcohol held in check by pancratiast tannins — was simply irresistible. (This and the bottle below were given to us in Austin by the lovely Derryberry and Shaw families of Austin, the former bottling as a gift to thank us for Tuscany recommendations, the latter a gift from my virtual friend Simone whom they visited in Lucca.)
But when we opened a bottle of 2008 Rosso di Montalcino by Gianni Brunelli to pair with some ciceri e tria (chickpeas and long noodles) that Tracie P had prepared on weeknight/schoolnight, she had just one glass and I had two. Not only was the wine fantastic that night (and great with the creamy chickpea gravy) but a third glass was great even the next day… and a fourth and final glass vibrant and juicy even the following day.
Not rocket science… just common sense and great wine… :-)
Laura Brunelli recently visited the U.S. and Notable Wine wrote a great post about it here with video. Also, a must read: Avvinare’s remembrance of Brunelli is one of my favorite posts on her excellent blog.