Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 3. 1965.
Wine: To Be Drunk Intelligently
Wine: To Be Drunk Intelligently
Andre Simon says of wine "it may become a habit, but never a craving". Wine encourages civilised drinking.
A French "Mousseux" type imitation of Champagne, costing 21/- at the wine merchants, was classified as Champagne at one restaurant and priced at 70/-. Although this is an extreme case, wine and food must clearly be associated with the home, rather than dining out. Buy wine from a reliable merchant.
It is a pity to drink one type of wine to the exclusion of everything else. This often happens with Champagne or Red Bordeaux (Claret'). An interesting different wine-food combination will reduce this tendency. As you come back to your old favourite, it will taste even better.
The ultimate judge of wine is your palate. However it cannot judge unless you have tasted different wines as a comparison. You must remember a wine's name and your opinion of it. The aim is to develop a trained palate—similar to a trained ear for music.
A great wine will impress its qualities upon the senses at once and in harmony. These qualities are easily experienced, but indefinable. Generally however there are four parts to wine-tasting:
Firstly, check the colour,
Secondly, swirl the glass around to really bring up the bouquet.
Thirdly, take a good sip, then another. Roll it around for at least a second. Oxygen brings out the innermost character of wine. If you can do so without choking, suck air through the mouth. The sensations experienced from now on form the aroma. The first part of the aroma is "le moelleux:" Body—when a sip of wine appears to "fill'1 the mouth: a velvety liqueurness in the greatest: a fresh, "fruity" grape flavour, but combined with other scents and tastes, e.g. raspberry or almonds.
Fourthly, is the second part of the aroma: Finesse. This is the warm feeling as you swallow, followed by a lingering fragrance.
One's mood tends to become identified with a particular wine— thus for example, the sparkle of Champagne or the nobleness of Burgundy. However, the civilised drinker will never drink to get "happy." Instead, he will favour quality and the individual character of a wine.
Before a country can produce top rate wines, it must have a discerning public. This is beginning to appear m Australia. We could however all learn from the French.
Red Bordeaux is the queen of French wine; the district is unrivalled for its combination of quantity and quality. You cannot go wrong on any of the classified growths—e.g. Chateau Latour Chateau or Cos D'Estournel, 1st and 2nd Grand Crus. In Bordeaux, the word "Chateau" guarantees origin and quality.
Red Burgundy is the king of French wine; genuine Burgundy is rare. Unlike the Bordeaux district, few Burgundies are estate-bottled.
We thus have to rely on shippers and the wine merchant. The very best Burgundy comes from the Cote de Nuits—such as Chambertin, Romanee Couti, Clos Vougeot, and Nuits-Saints-Georges. All should have "appellation controllee" on the label.
Champagne is in a class of its own, so long as one does not twizzle the bubbles out. Champagne is associated with so many things that it is hard to appreciate it simply as a wine. A top Champagne, like Clicquot, costs about 38/- from a merchant. Most wine-lovers agree that there is a sharp drop in everything but price between Champagne and all other sparkling wines: it is not just fizz and gas.
Other white wines are the "Chateau" Sauternes of Bordeaux; white Burgundies such as Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne; and Hock. From the Rheingau district.
"Vintages" are generalisations; different charts vary. Red wines may either improve or deteriorate with age. Red Bordeaux may last half a century. whilst, red Burgundy is becoming old at twenty-five years. White wine does not improve with age. Nevertheless, vintages are important, especially in Burgundy.
The production of great wines is small, but the demand always great, causing high prices. Good sound and inexpensive wine should never be despised, neither should too much be expected of it.
The old rule of never mixing drinks still holds true. Drink pale, dry sherry or Champagne (both chilled), before dinner, rather than spirits or cocktails. Serve white wines before red; light before heavy; dry before sweet; younger before older vintages; lesser before greater wines. Have cognac or liqueurs with coffee.
With wine and food, combine red wines with red meats and white wines with white meats. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is a very useful rule. Lamb goes well with red Bordeaux; beef and game with red Burgundy: chicken with Hock; sweets with Sauternes. Almost anything goes with Champagne.
French cooking is very suitable, especially when involving mushrooms and wine.
Avoid stuffing, mint sauce, mustard, tomato or Worcester sauce, pickles, curry. Chinese food, and salads. Strongly scented flowers and cigarette smoke are apt to spoil the bouquet.
Always treat wine gently. Store it, lying down in a cool, vibrationless place. Old red Bordeaux may have to be decanted, because of sediment. Otherwise, stand the bottle upright before and during serving. With red Bordeaux—not Burgundy—draw the cork at least half an hour before drinking. Draw corks smoothly, holding the bottle with a serviette. Smell the cork; toadstool-smelling "corked" wine is undrinkable. Chill white wine for no more than a couple of hours in a refrigerator, red wine should be at about 65 degrees fahrenheit. Avoid sudden temperature changes. Drink all wine out of large clear, tulip-shaped glasses, perfectly clean and never more than two-thirds full.
The experts on wine disagree no more than in any other subject. The main purpose of knowledge of wine is to increase your enjoyment of it.—C. B. Black.