The value of wine

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Exploring the worth in a bottle by Jarrett Leplin and Michael Zimmerman

We will assume that you are serious about wine, that your palette is experienced and sophisticated (of course this is for the sake of getting somewhere, not a prerequisite). So if you are about to indulge in a bottle of, let us say, Chassagne Montrachet, many considerations present themselves. Shipping and storage, though crucial, are now beyond control. Proper aging is crucial, but assessable only with wide latitude. Youth is to some extent compensated by decanting. You might decant anyway, if concerned about sediment or the plausibility of the chemistry that says the bottle as a whole can be oxidized by exposure to air through the neck. The wine must be chilled. Half an hour in an ice bucket beats two days of refrigeration. Extraction of the cork must be cautious to ensure against crumbling or separation. The cork is then subjected to visual and olfactory evaluation. You must have a proper Montrachet glass to capture the nose, and into it pour a small sample to swirl vigorously in case oxidation is incomplete. Color is then contemplated while rotating the glass to catch the light. To determine the bouquet, one’s own nose must now descend as far as possible into the glass and perform deep inhalations. Finally, you are allowed to taste the wine, a process roughly divisible into three stages: initial contact with the tongue, the envelopment of flavor throughout the mouth as the wine flows gingerly over the palette, and absorption of the finish. The middle stage must be lingered over, with repeated sloshing and unabashedly guttural sound effects. One can only hope that the finish will be similarly protracted.

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