Here at Xtrawine we want to help as many people as possible understand the intriguing, and at times often beguiling, world of Italian wine. With so many producers having such rich histories, not to mention the many intricacies that go into selecting wines and drinking them correctly, it seems that many have a fair few questions that need answering before they can really explore their passion for this most wonderful of drinks.
While we won’t claim to be able to answer them all at once, we have put together an interesting list of some of the most frequently asked questions, alongside some interesting pieces of trivia, that will hopefully give readers a more comprehensive understanding of the world of wine.
What Are The Differences Between Ancient and Modern Wine?
This is one of the most interesting questions that is often asked by consumers of wine because it can often be difficult to tell just how much techniques from centuries, or even millennia, ago actually influence the wines we drink today.
For the purposes of this question we will consider ancient wines to be those that existed during the Roman period and backwards, which is when wine first started to gain the reputation that led to the industry that we see today.
The truth of the matter is that ancient wines would usually be of lesser quality than the wines we drink today. While some of the production methods and grape combinations that we use today find their origins in ancient times, such wines were often enhanced through the use of spices, salts and other accoutrements, like honey, to make them taste better than they may have done. Furthermore, ancient wines were often watered down due to the fact that ancient production methods could not keep up with the demand for them.
Of course, as time went on production methods improved and understanding of the influence that terroir and grape has on quality was better understood. So while ancient wines were perhaps of lower quality, the work of producers during this time laid crucial foundations for the industry that followed.
What’s The Best Glass?
This is an open-ended question as the best glass relies entirely on the wine you are consuming. As a general rule, wider glasses that have a bowl-like appearance are usually best for red wines, as they allow the drink to aerate, which releases the many complex flavours you will experience.
Thinner glasses are generally better for white wine, as they limit the amount of oxygen they are exposed to, which is crucial given the lower levels of complexity such wines generally exhibit. For sparkling wines, a flute is recommended as this allows the wine to maintain its structure for longer.
How Can I Quickly Choose A Good Wine?
With Italian wine, the best way to choose a good vintage is to look for certification from the DOC. Any wines that carry the DOC or DOCG labels are guaranteed to have been produced in a specific region and maintain a certified quality level.
Of course, this is not to say that other wines can’t be good, by any means. It just means that you are practically guaranteed a good product by going down this route.
As always, the best way to determine the quality of a wine is to find out what others have to say and to try it yourself.
How Should I Use My Decanter?
You decanter can be a crucial accessory, but overuse may result in your wines losing their quality. The best time to use a decanter is when you feel that a wine may not be receiving the most crucial benefits from the air around it.
This is a common problem when serving red wine in thinner glasses, so consider decanting if this is an issue for you. However, always keep in mind that a wine that has not been decanted can always have more time spent on aerating it, while one that has cannot regain its composition if you decant for too long.
What Is The Major Difference Offered By Organic Wine?
Organic wines are made as naturally as possible, which usually means no man-made chemicals have been used in their production. For many, this allows the wine to be a true representation of the land that spawned it, as chemicals can alter the composition and balance of the drink, even if unintentionally. Generally speaking, organic wines tend to have a slightly earthier taste and experienced tastes will often be able to detect mineral notes where they may not be present in non-organic wines from the same region.
Who Invented Wine?
Though France, Greece and Italy all played an enormous role in the creation of the wine industry as we know it today, none of them can lay claim to having actually invented the drink. The oldest winery to date was actually found in Armenia and is believed to date back to 4,100 B.C. Over time, the technique for making wine travelled through the Middle East and Egypt before arriving in Greece and other European areas. They have obviously been refined and built upon over the centuries.
How Long Will Wine Last After Opening?
If left unchecked, most wines will maintain their quality for about a day. However, placing it back into a fridge or using a vacuum pump can help to extend the life of an opened bottle. As a general rule, try to consume a wine fairly quickly after opening to get the most out of it.
How Do I Pair Wine With Food?
This is a big question and the answer is that there is no real right answer, as it really comes down to personal preference. Our website offers a number of recommended pairings, as can be seen on each individual product page, but you should not take these suggestions as gospel. In fact, it is encouraged that you experiment a little bit as you may find a combination that perfectly suits your palette and opens doors for further exploration.