For his final blog in his ‘Spotting Faults’ series, l’ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbet rounds off with his five top tips that reduce the risk of unhealthy Festive-Season wine.
Some top tips for healthy wines for entertaining:
- If someone is bringing ‘that special bottle’ ask them to bring it the day before – if it is red then it might need to be decanted, if it is white you wouldn’t want to shock it by suddenly plunging it into an iced bucket, and also you can have a back up if it’s not up to scratch! If someone has just brought a bottle to your celebration, it is probably better to find a polite way of not serving it – if the wine is faulty both you and your guests will be embarrassed.
- If you are really worried about guests turning up with wine, and having to deal with the social faux-pas of trying to quietly ferret it away, you and always ask your visitors to not bring a bottle. For me a bad wine is as bad and as embarrassing as the turkey not being cooked.
- Really think about the best place to store ‘that special bottle.’ Garages, cupboards, attics and under stairs are often either too hot or too cold – or worse a bit of both. If where you store your wine is a little too warm, this isn’t too much of a problem as if the temperature is fluctuating. If you have a room that is 16 degrees and it will stay at that temperature, although it is not ideal it is not anywhere near as damaging as keeping it in the garage where the temperature could range from 5 – 25 degrees.
- Make sure you finish a bottle before you start another one, as once open the wine won’t keep. Wine, once open, should be consumed within 24 hours. A wine has been sealed at a point where it is ready to drink, so allowing more air into your bottle just accelerates the wine’s deterioration. Your choices are drink it, pour it away or use it in cooking.
- Fortified wines oxidise just as any other wine, it just happens a bit more slowly. The best way to enjoy them is to consume the bottle fairly quickly, within a week ideally. Although they will last a bit longer than ordinary table wine, if you keep them longer than this you will not be enjoying them in the way they were intended. If you open a bottle of sherry for Christmas, you should aim to finish it by New Year. Fortified wines now come in a variety of bottle sizes so you can measure against your likely consumption. So rather than serving your Nan’s six-month old sherry at your dinner party, make sure you buy fresh!