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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.

  • 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.

    Click here to learn more about wine tasting!

  • 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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