SigMT Winter 2018

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SignatureMT | 21 Open That Bottle Urban Affairs WHOLLY SPIRITS Text by Gene Betz ot a wine cellar? Have bottles of wine you've been holding for years waiting for the right time or occasion to drink them? We should talk about that today. Years ago I began reading a column in the Wall Street Journal titled "Tastings" by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. In my opinion, they are two of the most down to earth wine journalists I've ever followed. I own two of their books and find their guidance to be more relevant to the casual wine drinker than almost anyone else I've read. Their philosophies are should drink wine that you enjoy and you shouldn't cellar a lot of wine that may not stand the test of time. In one of their columns they talked about those bottles we all end up with that we are saving for a special occasion: bottles given to us as gifts from special friends; bottles purchased while on vacation; etc. What they found to be true was this: the longer we hold onto these bottles, the more special the occasion needs to be for us to open them. This will often lead to a bottle that's undrinkable by the time we finally break down and open it. So, they came up with an annual celebration called "Open that bottle Night". The idea was to celebrate the bottle, either intimately with your significant other or with close friends and a special meal. Afterwards, they asked you to send them your thoughts on the wine and the how you made the event special. What I'm getting to (possibly way too slowly) is this: 99% of all wine should NOT be cellared long-term and 90% of all wine is meant to be drunk during the first year following release. Simply put, most wines should not be cellared for long periods and very few wines actually get better with time. There are four qualities a wine should possess if they are to be cellared. They include high acidity, good tannin structure, low alcohol, and good residual sugar. And keep this in mind: a wine that ages well for 12 years most likely doesn't taste as delicious during the first several years unless decanted or aerated. I think a good test of a wine's ability to be aged is to open a bottle and try it one night, then put the cork back in the neck and try it again the next evening. If it's better the second night, then you can safely cellar that wine. A friend of mine uses the following technique: for each hour a wine is uncorked and remains drinkable, you can expect it to last 10 years under ideal cellaring conditions. Which, by the way, does not include any place in your kitchen, especially not on a rack sitting on top of your refrigerator. Pick a location as free from temperature fluctuations and vibrations as possible, someplace cool and dark, and use cellar tags so that you don't lose track of your wines. MT S G Now Available in North Central MT

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