When we’re going somewhere it’s easy to grab a bottle of wine off the shelf, but wouldn’t it be nicer to be able to give the matter some thought and have a label specially designed for the special occasion, whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or just a ‘thank you’?
There are many companies now who offer this facility and you will find that you’ll be able to send your own message as well as write the names of the people to whom it is intended.
We now prefer the light-bodied wines rather than the heavy ones that were so popular a few years ago and they are really best consumed within three years of harvest (for white) and five years (for red).
Keep your store of wines away from the light and the heat. It’s not necessary to keep the bottles on their sides as they’ll be fine standing upright for up to a year.
If you’re taking your wine with you on a long journey you should try to keep it as cool as possible. Cool bags are very useful but, failing this, make sure that the bottles are kept out of direct sunlight. If you’re leaving your car for a period you could try putting the bottles underneath in the shade, but it’s not a good idea to forget about them!
When you eventually arrive give the bottles time to return to room temperature before you open and consume.
The barrels used for storage were burned on the inside during the Middle Ages.
This created sulfur dioxide which preserved the wine for much longer. In very cheap wines this is still used and can bring on appalling headaches and allergic reactions in some people (tip: it’s best to avoid cheap wines!).
When you’re serving a strong red wine you may find that there’s a lot of sediment. This certainly doesn’t want to go into the glass. Historically (and if you have time) these wines should be decanted.
To do this correctly you should make sure that all the sediment has been taken from the sides of the bottles and give it time to settle on the bottom. This could take several days to work and if you want to be a real perfectionist you could give it up to a couple of weeks.
When you do pour the wine into the decanter pour it very slowly and gently and don’t let any of the sediment pass through.
And the last question? Is it best to use a corkpuller (a handle with two prongs) or a cork screw?
The corkpuller will fit into your pocket and is considered the best by most professionals as it’s much quicker, but the technique does need a lot of practice. If, however, the cork is not tight or is plastic, a corkscrew will do a better job for you as the pressure of the prongs with a corkpuller can easily push the cork into the bottle.
Whatever you use, however, the important thing is that you concentrate carefully and if the cork starts to move you change to a corkscrew.