Most of the people who visit Xtrawine are people who have a passion for wine, but are really most interested in great tastes and aromas. Of course, we host as much information as possible to help you make your decisions, but we’re sure most of you don’t mess around when you’ve opened a bottle of wine. You’ll give it a quick smell and enjoy the taste, but there are things that experts do that many wine enthusiasts don’t even know about.
That’s what we’re going to look at today. These are seven of the things that wine experts do that you may not understand.
Slurping isn’t the most endearing of habits, but it actually has a purpose in the world of Italian wine. When somebody slurps their wine, they’re trying to introduce more oxygen to the liquid. Think of it as being similar to swirling the wine inside the glass. Slurping requires you to keep your mouth open and suck air in. All of the while, you’re bringing more oxygen into the mix, thus unlocking flavours that may have stayed hidden if you’d sipped the wine in the conventional sense.
- Switching Between Regions and Grape Varieties
When talking about Italian wines, you’ll notice that most experts talk about the region that the wine came from, more so than the grapes used in its production. That’s not to say that they’ll miss out the grapes. However, the region itself tends to be an indicator of the grapes used. However, when looking at other wines, those same experts may talk about the grape more than the region. This is because every country has a different system in place for classifying its wines. Most experts know which to choose when talking about a wine.
Generally, people seem to think that ageing is always good for a bottle of wine. However, that’s not always the case. Some wines lose their texture and go sour if left to age for too long. Furthermore, some producers hold vintages back for a few years so they can release them at their peak. As a result, you’ll notice that experts tend to age some, but not all wines. This is because they know exactly how much time a wine needs to reach its potential.
- Chilling Red Wine
Most will tell you that an Italian red wine should be room temperature before you drink it. That’s certainly the case, however, it’s also an old bit of knowledge. In fact, that tip is so old that it comes from before the days when we had central heating. As a result, room temperature may not really be room temperature in this day and age. If it’s the middle of winter, you may have heated your room up so that it goes far beyond regular room temperature.
Chilling red wine allows you to restore some parity and bring it back to room temperature in these situations. The experts know what they’re doing, even if they’re seemingly doing something that goes against conventional wisdom. Of course, leaving a red wine in the fridge for too long sends it too far the other way, so you have to be careful.
As a final tip, if you’re in any doubt at all about how you should store your wines, lean towards cold. If it’s a choice between putting a red wine in the fridge and leaving it to stand out in the heat, the fridge is a better option. You can always bring a chilled wine back up to room temperature. However, heat can have disastrous effects that you may not be able to reverse.
- Talking About Legs
You may have heard experts talking about “legs” when they discussing a wine. The eagle-eyed among you will also notice that the taster has usually swirled the wine before they start talking about legs.
There’s a reason for this. When you swirl wine in a glass, it leaves little streaks along the inside of the glass. These are the “legs”, and they’re actually an indicator of the alcohol content of the wine. As a general rule, the thinner the legs, the less alcohol is in the wine. Thicker legs also tend to take their time running down the length of the glass as well.
- Talking About Tannins
You’ll have noticed that we mention tannins quite a lot at Xtrawine, and they’re actually pretty important in the world of Italian wine. Simply put, tannins link directly to the “dryness” of a wine. They also come in two varieties.
There are tannins that come directly from the grape. Skins, seeds, and stems can all make a wine more tannic. In doing so, they also provide a more accurate representation of the land and the grape that the wine comes from.
However, wines may also develop their tannins when they’re put into oak bowls. So really, you could consider tannins as the plant life contribution to your bottle of wine. High tannins usually means a dryer mouth while you’re drinking. Typically, you’ll find that red wines have much higher tannins than whites, and the tannins also play a crucial role in how the wine tastes.
- Using Small Glasses
Some people have the mistaken belief that a wine is always best when served in a large glass. However, that’s not always the case. If you have a delicate red vintage, for example, it may be best to serve it in a smaller glass.
This is because too much oxygen can completely ruin more delicate reds. Smaller glasses limit the amount of oxygen that gets to the wine, offering you more control.
White wines also tend to do better in smaller glasses for the same reason. They retain their freshness better.
The Final Word
So there you have it, seven things that you may not have known or understood about the way that wine experts treat their wines. As always, we’re here to help with any other questions that you may have, so get in touch if you need any help.