QUESTION: What kind of wine should you age and what kind of wine can be enjoyed immediately? Most people won’t know that the oldest wines in the world are white. They generally can age better than reds, depending on the grape variety. The oldest wine I ever tasted was carbon dated to 1670, it was white and only 6% alcohol but the storage was responsible for its great condition, cut off from any form of light, buried for centuries in cold, damp London clay. The longest lived wines are Madeiras, most of which are made from white grape varieties. Some of the great old white Burgundies [Chardonnay] would be classified as some of the greatest wines in the world.
QUESTION: What is the best way to tell the difference between an OK wine and a good wine in the supermarket? Price is not always an indication and many times the ratings or reviews they put on the shelf are just to push that brand. This is a very difficult proposition, especially in a supermarket where the “wine person” can change from week to week. I would recommend trying to learn something specific about the wines you like and looking for similar qualities. For example, the back label may indicate an importer or distributor that you have noticed on a different bottle that you enjoyed.
QUESTION: HOW LONG SHOULD A WINE AGE? There is no clear answer to this . Some people simply don’t like or understand old wine. What is dead to one person is just coming into its prime to another. Some say “if you can taste the fruit in a wine, it isn’t ready for drinking”, others think “if you can’t taste the fruit, the wine is dead”. Old wine can be an acquired taste. If you buy a wine, such as Chateau Lafite, and you drink it early, you are wasting your money because a wine like that is completely designed to be at its best when it is several decades old. However, most wines don’t age well and should be drunk immediately. The standard reference book, on which wines can be aged, is “Michael Broadbent Vintage Wine” or his “Pocket Vintage Wine Companion”. A nice cellar should include wines that are ageing and some that are ready for immediate drinking. If you do not have sufficiently good conditions for ageing wine, you should not age it. You can buy aged wines and drink them immediately. - Bartholomew Broadbent , CEO of Broadbent Selections
For a decade, Wine X Magazine delivered wine news, reviews and gossip to the hipsters of Generation-X and other youngsters outside of the conventional wine-sipping crowd. As punishment for this flagrant attempt at welcoming a wider demographic of consumers into the exclusive world of wine, industry moguls killed Wine X . They starved the magazine to death, maliciously depriving it of the essential advertising support that almost all publications need to live. Strange, considering that Wine X, which was based in Santa Rosa, enjoyed a circulation of over 300,000, with more that two million readers. It even had a satellite publishing house Down Under. Clearly, the money-making potential was there. But according to Wine X publisher Darryl Roberts, established folks in the wine industry simply did not want to associate with his magazine. They felt that it cut too close to the edge of what is considered appropriate in the wine drinking community, which can be a bit fussy. In a recent conversation, Roberts told me of specific instances when tasting room managers and product advertisers actually called him to cancel their contracts due to the unconventional content of the magazine, which included gossipy articles, an adolescent, chattery tone of voice, and sexy fashion magazine-style photos of celebrities who vouch for wine. The first issue in June of 1997 grabbed barrels of attention with its racy cover shot of a woman’s navel (which I suppose related to wine in some way or another).
Most of us wine geeks have a seminal moment in our wine-drinking careers that we can pin down and say “That’s when I got hooked, that’s when I really caught the wine bug.” I bet most of us didn’t have silver spoons in our mouths, and this moment was probably not borne out of some pretentious snobbery involving a $1000 bottle of Bordeaux that had aromas of gunflint and wet saddle leather. I’m willing to bet that, for most American wine geeks anyway, these wine beginnings were much less formal. For my brother it was during his college years at Ithaca when he visited several local wineries in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. For my friend Sean it was when he and his wife travelled to the Napa Valley on their honeymoon. Wine geeks love to tell their wine stories, and it is these stories, these personal connections and experiences that make wine so special to so many people. I thought an appropriate initial column would be to share with you the experiences that got me hooked on spoiled grape juice.