Port

Decanting a Vintage Wine

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Regardless of color or style, the majority of wine for sale in our  wine shop does not require decanting. In general, if it follows the 3F principle (Fun, Frilly, and Fruity) or if it comes in a box, tin can, tetra-pack, or with a lizard  or fuzzy Koala  on the label, don’t insult yourself or anyone else by suggesting that it will improve with some breathing time!!!  It  will not. Decanting is normally reserved for full-bodied red wines such as vintage port, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and the big Italians like Amarone, Barolo, and Brunello.Although it is enjoyable to do, there is no real secret to mastering the act of decanting vintage wine.

 A great number of  people feel more comfortable using some kind of filter such as a  funnel, or others things such a coffee filter paper. However if the bottle of wine has been properly prepared and addressed, such items are not always necessary!

If using a filter, most of us tend to pour the entire contents of the bottle into the decanter – assuming that all the deposit will be detached. At times the sediment in a bottle can be quite fine and passes through some filters leaving the wine somewhat cloudy. Decanting technique is more a question of style than anything else and you can opt for the quick, easy, and failsafe method of simply pouring the wine through a filter, or perhaps the more formal and traditional practice of decanting by candlelight.  For this reason we prefer the following steps.

DECANTING YOUR VINTAGE WINE
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1. A day before you intend to decant, place your bottle of Vintage wine upright. This will allow any loose sediment to fall to the bottom of the bottle.

2. Obtain a clean, odorless vessel. A wine decanter is perfect. Alternatively you could decant into another container, rinse out your bottle and return the wine to the bottle.

3. When pouring the wine into the container it is important where you hold the bottle. When the wine has been lying in our cellars at Mel and Rose, we  mark the uppermost side of the bottle at the bottom with a white mark, so-called the splash mark. The reason for doing this is that over the years sediment will have gathered in the bottle and settled on the lower side. Some of this sediment can stick to the glass so that if not careful when decanting, air bubbles can free this material and it will ruin the effect of your having stood the bottle upright for a day.

   As for a particular style of decanter, the possibilities are endless and you can really let your creativity run wild here. A perfectly suitable glass decanter will cost around $10 or run you in excess of $500 for something unusual – they do exactly the same thing. Just make sure it fits in Grandma’s old china cabinet before you fork out the cash.

4. To avoid the risk of this happening, when decanting, always place your hand on the same side of the bottle as the splash mark. In this way, any sediment stuck to the side of the bottle is below the wine and away from air bubbles entering the bottle as you pour.

5. If the splash mark has been wiped off, which is why at  Mel and Rose we will always put the front label exactly above the splash mark. In this way all you need to remember is that when you pour, have the label in the palm of your hand.

6. Now you must hold your decanter so that when you pour the wine you can see it briefly passing over the neck area of the decanter. This is because, as you pour with your steady hand, you are looking for signs of the deposit starting to come through. Stop as soon as the sediment starts to enter the decanter.

7. You will need a light background to see the sediment clearly. In the past, candles have been used for this.

8.  Pour in one steady movement. Stopping part way through will stir up the sediment and you will need a filter from there on in.

9. We  suggest you decant before the meal, you are likely to have a steadier hand and it will give all but the very oldest vintages the required time to breathe.

10. Finally, do not throw away the sediment. It is very nutritious and excellent in soups, sauces and gravy. You can freeze them in freezer ice cube bags.

It seems a long explanation, but once understood and practiced you’ll soon be a master.

Browse our Vintage wine selection.  

http://www.melandrose.com/asp_pages/wine_old_rare.asp

Pairing Wine with Cheese or Cheese with Wine!!!!

 

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At our Wine Tastings, I have often been   asked to tell which wine matched with which cheese. The funny thing is I never thought about cheeses, just cheese. I recently asked my co-workers & friend a similar question about pairing wine and cheese and most of the time the answer, while so amazingly obvious, surprised me
Shawn is our proprietor at our store and as such he is often asked to pair wines with cheese. With very few exceptions, cheese in a restaurant means a cheese plate, and pairing wines with an assortment of cheeses changes the equation entirely. In truth, that’s probably what most people mean when they ask about cheese and wine pairings: not a specific recommendation for a particular cheese, but rather a wine that is flexible enough to pair with many cheeses!

And here I’ve been going on and on and specific pairings for years! I’ll follow up this article with some specific pairings. After all, there does come a time when you have a bottle of wine open throughout a meal and you want to finish off the meal with the last of the bottles and just a bite of cheese. For today, let’s take a look at wines that work with cheese in a more general sense, beginning with Shawn’s recommendation:

Marsala

When most people think of Marsala, they probably think of veal or chicken sautéed and then finished off with the slightly sweet Italian wine know as Marsala. That’s certainly a valid and popular impression of what Marsala might be and one good use for it, but Marsala, like almost every wine, has a more generic example as well as some particularly exceptional bottlings.

Marsala is a fortified wine, similar to Sherry in many ways in that it reaches its peak when carefully aged. The best examples often are vintage dated or are soleras (barrel aged wines of multiple vintages) that have ages of 10 or even 20 years noted on the label.

With this level of maturity, the generally delicate in nature Marsala becomes intensely flavored with notes of almonds, dates and figs. All of these are happy to pair with cheese, particularly ripe, well-aged wash rind cheese, though their high acidity and relatively light body makes them particularly adept with a myriad of pairings.

Sherry

Mentioning that Marsala is similar to Sherry was no accident here, as Sherry easily comes as the second option on this list and one that is both easier to find as well as more affordable than Marsala.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain. It comes in many styles, from light and airy fino to heavy and sweet. The dry versions can sometimes be a little to lean to pair with anything but the most delicate cheese, but when you move onto something with a touch of sweetness, like a Pale Cream Sherry, you can really find some explosive pairings. A runny, pungent cheese is often the perfect partner for the salty, complex flavors of a Pale Cream Sherry, though the style that was once sold as rich or sweet Oloroso, both of which are now prohibited terms when it comes to labeling Sherry, was an absolute perfect match: rich but not heavy, sweet but not sugary and with a tang to match the greatest cheese.

Demi-sec

Both Marsala and Sherry are somewhat esoteric wines, which is why they work so well when it comes to pairing with a variety of cheese. The keys to their success are savory flavors and high acidity. But that is not the only option for those looking to pair wines with multiple cheeses. Sweetness, as with Pale Cream Sherry, is a fine partner for most cheese as long as it’s not taken too far, and there are several wines that are right at home with cheese.

Take for example demi-sec sparkling wine, either Champagne, sparkling wine or even Prosecco. All of these have great acidity and scrubbing bubbles that help balance the richness of the fattiest cheeses. Sugar brightened fruit allows you to contrast the funky flavors of your favorite cheese with a sweet fruit pairing as opposed to the more complimentary flavors of the Sherry and Marsala.

Riesling

Perhaps one of the greatest cheese friendly wines, Riesling often has it all: a bit of sweetness, bright acidity, sweet fruit flavors and if the wine has some age on it, a nice array of savory elements. All of this adds up to a wine that can match well with many cheeses. The generally lighter character of many Riesling really give flexibility for the freshest, buttery cheese or hard aged examples to blues, the wine stumping cheese!

One of the maxims of food and wine pairing is to try to match the intensity of the dish with the intensity of the wine. This is where the many components of Riesling come into play. With so many aspects available to compliment or contrast with the flavors of the cheese, Riesling is able to highlight one aspect of a cheese without dominating the scene.

White Zinfandel

 A well done white Zin is fruity, fresh and a little sweet, which makes it perfectly suitable for pairing with fresher cheese as well as light blues. That sweetness serves as a backstop for more assertively flavored cheese and salty hard cheese. It may not be the perfect match for any one cheese, but we’re speaking in generalities here. A light rose, you can find off dry examples from the Loire, Spain, and Italy as well, is a charming partner for so many cheeses that we simply can’t ignore it.

So what will it be for you- Wine to match your cheese or Cheese to match your wine!