Unfortunately, a wine may occasionally smell and taste out of condition. This can be due to a number of factors including cork taint, improper storage, cork failure or wine that is too old. The most common wine faults are cork taint and oxidisation.
Cork Taint: The appearance of the wine is not affected but it will have dulled fruit and musty aromas and at its worst it will have pungent aromas of damp cardboard.
Oxidisation / Out of condition: Wines will smell dusty and stale and may have excessive oxidative aromas such as toffee, caramel or sherry. The wine will also appear dull and slightly brown in colour.
Storing wine correctly will ensure that you preserve the quality of the wines.
Follow these general points:
- Store wines sealed with a cork on their side to ensure the wine inside the bottle remains in contact with the cork, keeping it moist (wines with a screwcap can be stored standing up)
- Keep wines away from light (both natural or artificial)
- Keep wines at a cool and constant temperature, ideally between 10-15oC.
Serving your wine at the most suitable temperature will ensure you get the best characteristics out of the wine.
- Medium / Full-bodied, Oaked White (e.g. White Burgundy, Fume Blanc): Lightly Chilled (10-13oC)
- Light / Medium-bodied White (e.g. Pinot Grigio, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc): Chilled (7-10oC)
- Sweet Wines: Well-chilled (6-8oC)
- Sparkling Wines: Well-chilled (6-10oC)
- Light Bodied Red (e.g. Beaujolias, Valpoicella): Lightly Chilled (13oC)
- Medium / Full-bodied Red (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja, Barolo): Room temperature (15-18oC)
Wines with a heavy deposit will benefit from being decanted to remove the sediment before serving. The deposit forms naturally during the ageing process of many fine red wines. Some younger wines benefit from the aeration when being decanted, although the same effect can often be replicated when swirling the wine in a glass.
To decent wine with a sediment:
- Place the bottle standing upright for several hours
- Remove the top of the capsule by cutting round below the lip of the bottle and clean the shoulder and neck of the bottle
- Gently remove the cork
- Pour the wine carefully into the decanter until the deposit can be seen near the neck. At this point, stop pouring
- Red wines are best served in larger glasses to allow the air to come into contact with more of the wine to help develop the aromas and flavours.
- White and Rose wines are best served in medium-sized glasses which gather and direct the fresh, fruit characteristics towards the top of the glass.
- Sparkling Wines are best served in flute glasses which allow the bubbles (and the wine's aroma) to travel through a larger volume of wine before busting at the top.
Once a wine is opened it will lose its aromatic intensity in a matter of days and then go on to oxidise and develop vinegar aromas. If wine is not consumed as soon as it is opened, it is best stored in the fridge with the closure replaced (i.e. cork or screwcap) to extend the life of the wine by a few days (Remember to remove your red about an hour before drinking to allow it to return to room temperature).
There are some exceptions to this general rule - sparkling wines are best consumed within 24 hours of opening whereas the higher levels of alcohol in fortified wines make them more robust, allowing them to keep for around 14 days if stored correctly.
- Chill your champagne to help reduce the pressure of gas inside the bottle (to around 6-10oC)
- When you are ready to open your sparkling wine, remove the foil and loosen the wine cage holding the cork in place.
- Keep a firm hold of the cork to keep it in place once the wire cage has been loosened.
- Hold the bottle by the base, tilt the bottle at an angle of around 30o, grip the cork with the other hand.
- Twist the bottle and not the cork.
- Hold the cork, resisting it flying out and slowly ease it out the bottle.
- The pressure inside should be released with a quiet hiss and not an explosion and flying cork!
Vintage champagne is produced from grapes grown in one particular year only, whereas non-vintage champagne will be a blend of a number of year's wines. Because of this, there will be slight subtleties between vintage champagnes that reflect upon the growing conditions in each year, whereas a non-vintage is blended to maintain a consistent style. Vintage Champagne is only produced in years when the harvest has been of a high quality (normally 3-4 times per decade) and is left for at least 3 years before it is released for sale.
Wines bought en primeur are purchased before they are bottled and stock is released.
Top rated wines from the best chateaux are sold as futures before they’re bottled, some 18 to 24 months before they’re available to consumers. Each year Costco buy wines from the Bordeaux region en primeur in order to secure a selection of the best wines from the vintage.
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rating system grades a wines quality on a scale from 50-100 points.
- 90-95 points reflects "an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character".
- 96-100 points indicates "an extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety".
- Each of our wines with a Parker / Wine Advocate Score are highlighted - simply look for the logo below on the product image. Further tasting notes from The Wine Advocate and the edition that the wine featured in are detailed in the product details section of each applicable wine.
- For more information, see www.robertparker.com