The Blog of My VitiBox

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  • When should we aerate wine?

    Some wines need to take a breath to reveal their aromatic and taste potential. What wine should be aerated before serving? Why and How?

    The modus operandi and the carafe will vary considerably with the objectives. Aeration and decantation are usually used as synonyms but they aren’t the same. Lets see why.

    Why some wines have to be aerated?

    The large majority of wines that haven’t reached maturity yet need to be aerated. Sometimes we hear saying that aeration “allows the wine to get some years”. This is not totally correct, but helps us to give the idea of the oxygenation. Oxygen melts tannins, wakes up aromas and adds balance to wine. Furthermore, aeration allows wine to get rid of some odour's defects.

    What wine has to breathe?

    The majority of red and white young wines benefit from aeration. Robust wines with strong tannins are those who need to be aerated more to round their tannins.

    However, you have to be really careful when letting young wine breath since some are fragile and very sensitive to oxygen, as for instance non-sulphites wines.

    In case of mature and older wines, rules are more complex. On the one hand aeration allows revealing hidden aromas, on the other hand it risks to ruin the drink. For instance, we usually say that vintage pinot noirs with weak tannins could suffer from aeration if it isn’t done very carefully.

    How to aerate wine?

    To oxygenate a young wine it is sufficient to pour it into a carafe. Wine must be gently slid down the side of the carafe. Prefer a carafe with a large base, so that a larger surface of wine is exposed to oxygen. Never close the carafe because the aim is to let the wine take a breath. Normally aeration lasts one hour, but you can leave the wine in the carafe until 3 hours in case you have a very tannic young wine.

    For older wines, aeration should be much shorter. An alternative could be to “bring the bottle up to room temperature”. This practice consists in opening the bottle six hours before the tasting and leave it at 13°C in your wine cellar. Doing so, wine becomes finer and more elegant.

  • Question of the month: which word indicates the transformation of sugar into alcohol?

    The technical word is: alcoholic fermentation, one of the most important steps of winemaking.

    What is alcoholic fermentation?

    Grapes are pressed with their skin in big batches to create the alcohol. Sugars in grapes turn into alcohol thanks to the microscopic fungi called yeast.

    Natural or artificial yeast?

    Winemakers can choose to use only natural yeast and leave the result up to the nature or to introduce artificial yeasts to influence wine aromas.

    To learn more about alcoholic fermentation and different steps of winemaking you can read our articles: “what are the steps of good red wine winemaking” and “Wine fermentation: is the winemaker a wizard apprentice?”

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  • Cheese and wine evening: instruction for use

    Would you like to invite some friends over for dinner but you don’t have time to cook? Organise a “cheese-themed evening”!

    Consider around 250g of cheese per guest and ask for the advice of a cheese lover to select excellent cheese. Think to put on the table some grape, dry fruits and of course different type of bread and baguettes (rye bread, spices and ginger bread, etc.). Contrary to common beliefs, white wine better match cheese!

    Brie de Meaux – Givry red

    Choose a lively and fruity Burgundy wine such as the Givry, which will give energy to cheese and will balance its fats.

    Bleu d’auvergne- Sauternes

    Choose a white sweet wine slightly liquorish like the Sauternes. Sugar will sweeten the strong taste of cheese.

    Saint Marcellin – Croze Hermitages white

    My heart selects a rounded and aromatic wine, like a Croze Hermitages from the Rhone Valley.

    Camembert – Vouvray white dry

    To avoid the tannic reds which will ruin the cheese and choose a dry Vouvray, soupple but lively, which will contrast the oily texture of camembert

    Goat cheese - Sancerre blanc

    I select fresh white wine, with acide notes and nice mineral elements such as the sancerre if the goat cheese is creamy or a smoky Pouilly if the cheese is hard and ripened.

    Comté – Vin jaune du jura

    A young wine will enhance notes of dried fruits and spice that we find in the cheese.

    The cheese and wine match is even better if the cheese has been ageing for some years.

  • Red meat and game: what wine to choose

    Today I would like to give you some suggestions to pair your red meat steaks or game with a good wine.

    Red meat

    The selection of wine depends on the cooking. With a steak tartare,  I prefer wines with weak tannic structure such as a light gamay. With a grilled T-bone steak, I would choose a young, full-bodied Bordeaux with strong secondary aromas. Finally, I usually match a beef filet cooked in a pan with a tannic and vintage wine like a 20 years-old Saint-Emilion.

    Game

    Old wines from Burgundy, with good balance, light tannins and nice minerals go well with game such as roast grouse with blackcurrant sauce, stuffed guinea fowl with potatoes or wild boar ragù sauce with tagliatelle. Wine aromas of understory, red fruits and mushrooms will elegantly remind the wood of the wild game. Your next dinner will be delighted by Pommerd, Volnay or Gevrey Chambertin wines.

    If you would like to experience great food and wine matching, subscribe now to the wine box Colours and Flavours.

  • Food and wine matching: like attracts like?

    There are two principles that govern the food and wine matching: the similarity principle and the complementary principle. You can continue your introduction to the world of wine

    One agrees to say that there are two principles that govern food and wines: the principle of similarity and complementarity. Continue your introduction to the world of wine with these simple principles in mind.

    According to the principle of similarity, the objective of good food and wine matches is to draw parallels between the dish and the sipple.  For instance, you have to choose a light wine to pair a light recipe or, on the contrary, a full-bodied wine goes well with a flavourful and rich meal. In the same way, you will select a wine because his aromas are close to your food flavours: mushrooms, white fruits, red fruits, etc…

    Under the complementarity principle, you have to try to create a pleasant contrast between food and drink. To better enhance savours, wine will have to bring aromas and structure to a meal with opposite characteristics. For example, a Savennières sec from the Loire Valley, will reduce the heaviness of a fish creamy dish thanks to his lively and acidity.

    Texture matches: we tend to say that in this case opposites attract. So with a dry-texture pork steak you will have to prefer a supple wine such a cabernet franc from the Loire.

    Thus, with a pork roast try Chinon – Les Charmes 2009 – Domaine Charles Joguet (Wine box My VitiBox July 2013).

    To learn more on food and wine matching, you can read our article “Food and wine pairings rules”.

    Discover the wine and dessert matching: “ Poached pears and Galliac of Vayssette winery”.

    If you would like to experience great food and wine matching, subscribe now to the wine box Colours and Flavours.

  • Aromas improving over time, from primary aromas to wine bouquet

    Wine aromas develop over time, from flower bud to wine ageing in cellars. Have you ever heard of primary, secondary or tertiary (or wine bouquet)? According to wine experts, it is possible to detect more than 100 aromas in a glass of wine. You need to train to memorise all the flavours and to recognise them when tasting your wine.

    The team of My VitiBox works for you to better understand the savour secrets….

    Primary wine aromas: these flavours stay in the grape even before that the fruit is transformed into wine. They vary according to grape variety, soil and climate. These primary aromas are usually of fresh fruits and flowers and they are the strongest and easier to detect when you taste a young wine.

    Secondary wine aromas: as their name suggests, they are secondary and play a less important role. Secondary aromas give to wine typical flavours of yeast, brioche, butter and they appear during alcoholic and malolactique fermentation. Some winemakers add additional yeast to facilitate fermentation and to enhance the aromatic structure.

    Tertiary wine aromas (the bouquet): these flavours come with wine ageing. Wine matured in oak barrels will generally smell of woody, vanilla, toasted and coffee: the so called smoked and toasted aromas. Once the wine is bottled, tertiary aromas of leather, game, mushrooms and smoke will give complexity to the nose.

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  • 14 different aromas families in wine

    In my article "Aromas improving over time, from primary aromas to wine bouquet", I showed you the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary aromas which evolve over time. Here below, you will find a list of different wine aromas families. To learn how to recognise flavours you have to undertake the two steps of "nose”:

    Nose is a key step in wine tasting. People perceive flavours directly or retronasally. The first allows to detect the smells, whereas the second is connected with our mouth and consists in feeling the aromas in our nose once we have tasted the wine. Thus, people can appreciate the quality of the wine in their nose twice.The first nose: smell your wine a first time without swirling the glass. Then, as a second step, swirl your glass to aerate wine and smell more intense aromas. This phase is called “second nose”.

    You can come back to this list, in the occasion of your next wine tasting and prove your nose with your favourite wine boxes.

    PRIMARY AROMAS

    • Flowers: acacia, hawthorn, rose, lime tree, violet
    • Mineral: flint, kerosene, tar
    • Red fruits: blackcurrant, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant, blackberry
    • White fruits: pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, peach, pear, apple
    • Vegetal: anise, fennel, ferns, cut grass, red or green pepper and thyme

    SECONDARY AROMAS

    • Fermentation agents: butter, brioche, milk and yeast
    • Chemical: carbon dioxide, artificial yeast, soap, sulphur

    TERTIARY AROMAS

    • Spices : Cinnamon, clove, pepper, liquorice, vanilla
    • Smoked and toasted: coffee, caramel, smoked, toasted bread, gingerbread, tobacco
    • Wood: mushrooms, tree mosses, truffles
    • Dried and candied Fruits: almond, fig, prune, hazelnut, walnuts
    • Sweets and pastry: honey, almond paste, praline
    • Understory: cedrus, oak, pin
    • Animal: leather, game , wildfowl, musk

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  • How to taste champagne?

    When tasting champagne, you have to pay attention to foam, bubbles and of course to aromas it gives off. These are the elements which allow you to recognise good champagnes and which will guide you in your introduction to champagne tasting ;-)

    First: the foam or “mousse”

    • its size is called “rope of foam”: (definition: the ring of bubbles that forms at the top of the glass of champagne). Does it take all the glass of pouring? Or only half or a quarter? If the frothiness has a continue and circular hold on the glass, you are probably tasting a high quality champagne.
    • Appearance: does it seem creamy? Thin? Average? Thick? Ideally, the foam should appear creamy.
    • Foam resistance and evolution: it is excellent, medium, low or absent? Foam persists longer if fizz is regular. This lead us to our second step: the bubbles.

    Second: the bubbles

    • size and regularity: do they form “trains of bubbles or chimneys” going up from the bottom of the glass in continuous columns? Or are they more similar to big random soap bubbles? The first is sign of quality.
    • their speed and weight: are they light or heavy? Do they tend to stick to the glass? Fast bubbles are usually lighter and dynamic, and they suggest a very lively wine.

    Third: the aromas of champagne

    The grape variety chardonnay gives aromas of brioche, toasted and lemon.

    Pinot noir grape variety gives aromas of raspberry and redcurrant.

    The varietal pinot meunier frees aromas of pear, apple and grape.

    Bubbles sometimes add aromas of yeast, brioche and toasted bread. Young champagne usually have flavours of vanilla and wood, whereas more vintage bottles (who are more than 5 years) reveal aromas of caramel, coffee and walnut.

    My advice:  champagne Tradition Brut - Grand Cru Cramant House Bonnaire (Wine box My VitiBox December 2012)

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