A break was required after Christmas. As some of you may have noticed I have not been posting nearly as frequently as I did in the latter part of 2010. You will have to excuse my absence, Christmas is expensive, I have barely been buying wine since the start of the new year. With my finances seemingly back on track the dedicated few will once again have access to my musings about wine and other alcoholic beverages.*
Wine: often considered to be a beverage that will improve with age. But wine, much like humans, is varied in its response to age. There are the lucky few that age as well as Clint Eastwood, who has certainly developed more complex and salt of the earth features which is exactly what a wine meant for ageing should do. Many a wine are more like the rest of us, our youthful lively character slowly turning to a drab expressionless visage.**
The problem that most of us face both in picking a mate and in picking a wine is determining which are the Clint Eastwood’s and which are the drab masses. There are a few easy rules to follow if you are considering saving a wine for a few years, hoping to pop it open during graduation, a special anniversary, or the death of an espoused enemy.***
When selecting a wine to save for a special occasion you will have to consider some of it’s characteristics. In general reds are going to age much better than whites, which is to say if you were to grab a random red and a random white off the shelf of your local liquor store there is a much better chance the red will stand up to the test of time. The reason this is the case is, very generally speaking, reds have more alcohol, more intense flavour, and way way more tannin, all of which act as preservatives. The advantage some whites have is high levels of sugar and acid which also helps preserve the wine.
Think of the most intense wine you’ve had in the last month, think of how it tasted and what it felt like in your mouth. Did the tannins suck all the moisture from your mouth? Were the fruit flavours overwhelmingly powerful? Was the acid high enough to balance out the wine? These are all things that need to be considered. Essentially you want bold fruit flavours, high tannin, medium to high acid and substantial alcohol for an ageable red. White can be a little tricky, unless you have your heart set on saving a white just avoid it, otherwise ask someone who is knowledgeable and you trust.
You’ve found a wine that is over the top and can’t wait to drink it in 20 – 30 years. That’s great! But in all likelihood that is far too long, if you find a wine that is truly over the top a safer ageing time will be around 5-10 years after the vintage date. Ageing is always somewhat of a guessing game, you never know what the future holds so be prepared to be wrong, but don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back when your predictions hold true.
Now for a wine that is very nice now and will only improve with a few years under its belt.
Producer: Pacific Breeze
Wine: Killer Cab
Region: Grapes are from the USA, probably California, the wine was made in BC.
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Notes: This wine is intense and deliciously complex. All sorts of flavours and aromas are to be found, look for blackberry, cassis, cassis leaf, some herbal and spice notes, coffee, and a slight dustiness. This wine is big in pretty much every sense of the word, you probably want to have this one with some food. I was slightly hesitant to rate this wine as Awesome because it is so big, it's not just a saturday night sipper, you'll definitely like it by itself, but you'll love it with a nice steak or maybe just a snack of smoked gouda and crackers.
*I’ve been getting more into scotch look forward to more posts on scotches and maybe some other whiskeys too.
**Yes I am trying to be pretentious.
***Planning to age a wine until someone’s death does present a few problems, the wine may not be at its peak should the person die too early or last several years longer than you had predicted. Of course if you happen to know the exact date the person will expire you have a certain advantage.