When a Wine Breaks the Rules…in a Good Way!

One of the topics I have written on previously is how to tell when a wine has gone “off”, which mostly happens after it has been open and exposed to air for too long a period. For young red wines, one day (with the cork stuck back in or the cap put back on) is usually okay. But more than that, and there is a noticeable drop off in the wine. Older red wines (I find anything six years or older) can’t even stand that, as I find them oxidized even by the next morning. Opened white wines can last longer, three to four days in the fridge being a general rule of thumb.

 So what a surprise last week when I had not one but two experiences that were completely — and wonderfully — different!

The first was an Aussie Shiraz, the 2002 “Single Wire” from a winery called Tin Shed. I opened it on Friday night and — as is my custom on weekends with wine from the cellar — had about 2/3 of the bottle over dinner and the rest of the evening. But since my wife can’t drink red wine because of headaches, I just left the rest of the bottle on the counter, expecting to pour it out the next morning.

But the next morning before emptying it out, I took my customary sniff and, at least from the bottle, it seemed fine. I then poured a little in a glass and was amazed — the wine tasted exactly the same as the night before!! I knew it was a big wine, but it didn’t have that much tannin. So for 10 years old that is incredible! I have one bottle left in my cellar and may need to rethink when to drink it.

 Monday night of the long weekend was the 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir by La Frenz. I had never tried this wine before and didn’t know what to expect. And I was also going to be out the next couple nights, so wouldn’t be able to finish it before it went off.

So I tried an old trick my old buddy Wayne told me about. I poured half of it in an empty half bottle and stuck the cork on tight. Sometimes, with young wines, this can keep them quite fresh. But I didn’t really hold out much hope for the Pinot, as it wasn’t a huge wine and three days was really pushing it.

But lightning struck twice! Not only was the wine fine on Thursday night, it had actually gotten better, with more earthiness balancing the oak and dried cherry fruit.

So what did I learn from this experience? Well, it is tempting to just put it down to  fluke. But instead, I think I will try — on a more regular basis — to save some wine overnight in a half bottle and see how that works.




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