Things You Probably Didn't Know About Wine

26/09/2015 4:47 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Happy family having a garden party

Here are some things we know about wine. It's made from grapes, is very delicious and -- given Jesus was totally down with it -- is actually nectar of the gods. Also, Australians love it.

As a general rule, Aussies consider themselves pretty savvy with the ole vino. But while you might be totally adept at ordering from any wine list a bar can throw at you ("Anything from the Yarra Valley?") there are some things you might not know about your favourite drop.

For instance -- did you know you're *not* supposed to make the 'pop' sound when you open a bottle of sparkling? (Omg we know. Our lives were turned upside down too.)

In a bid to correct some of these popular wine myths -- and to get the low-down some little known wine facts -- The Huffington Post Australia spoke to Tempus Two winemaker, Andrew Duff.

Here is what he had to say.

Does putting a teaspoon in your champagne bottle keep it fresh?

"No it doesn’t work, unfortunately. It doesn’t keep it fresh, it doesn’t keep the bubbles. I don’t even know who came up with the concept, though there are rumours it was a champagne house in France who tried to sell spoons as a marketing gimmick. It's quite funny. It's a myth that has had a lot of studies done on it and people do believe the wine tastes fresher or better with the spoon overnight in the bottle. Stoppers work, as they will keep it pressurised. However, the best way to keep a champagne fresh is to drink it."

Champagne or sparkling wine should be opened with a pop.

"The key thing a lot of people don’t know, is when you open it you try not to get the pop. As soon as you pop the champagne and obviously it froths up, that’s all the Co2 coming out. You create a vacuum which rushes all the Co2 out of the bottle.

"You should aim more for what is called an 'angel's sigh.' By doing it that way you don’t create a vacuum, and your champagne will benefit from it. "It's a shame really because we often have champagne at celebrations and the whole thing revolves around the pop of the bottle."

Do you really need a cellar to store wine?

"Australian conditions aren’t perfect for wine storage, because of the fluctuations in our temperature. Ideally you'd store your wine in a cellar, but if you don't have one, there are little wine cellars and fridges are absolutely wonderful.

"Or if you don't want to spend that kind of money, I have a mate at home who changed the thermostat on his old fridge and now uses it as a cellar. The ideal storage temperature is 14 to 16 degrees, so if you can get an old fridge to reset the temperature, that would work too. Obviously see an electrician, don't do it yourself."

Let's say you were taking some wine to a friend's dinner party. How much should you really be spending on a bottle?

"I guess it depends on the variety. Chardonnays and pinots, I would say over the $30 mark, for a minimum spend. It depends on how well you like your friends. $30 is where I’d go.

"The $25 mark is talked about a lot in the wine industry -- it's the hardest sale point. At $25 you can get hit or miss for good quality. Lower that that, you can still get good standard wines, but higher than the $25 mark is normally when people are going to sit their higher quality wines."

What does it mean when someone says their wine has "legs"?

"So the old saying is ‘it’s got legs’ and it refers to how hot the wine is or how alcoholic the wine is. Basically, you look at the side of the glass and swirl it around, and the more high alcohol wines will fall slower back down into solution. The more watery, the quicker it falls."

"The general gist is that, when people say 'what about the legs on that' is they are referring to there being more alcohol in the wine."

How long can I keep wine after I've opened the bottle?

"My personal advice is to drink it all in the one night. It really is the best way to keep wine fresh. It's one of the hardest questions to answer, because it all revolves around the wine’s make up. If it has a high level of alcohol, that helps preserves it -- it would also depend on the level of preservatives in there.

"Higher quality wines would tend to last a bit longer. Put it this way, the bin-end you find at Dan Murphy’s for $4 I wouldn’t even give it overnight. If you smell salt and vinegar chips in your wine I wouldn’t be drinking it. I like salt and vinegar chips, but not that much. It's like milk, if you smell it and you don’t like it, don’t drink it."

When there are things like "notes of pineapple" in a wine, does that mean there's actual pineapple used in the wine-making process?

"The answer is no. It’s just the flavour compounds. Everything you smell and taste in the wine -- if not put in by oak -- is what occurs naturally in the grape."

Reporter's note: In saying that -- there have been instances where winemakers have added unusual elements to wine, such as Lindeman's recently launched Gentleman's Collection, which include a dash of fortified wine in their makeup.

Do you really need to decant a wine?

"Decanting is all about getting air into the wine. A lot of wines do require decanting -- it's a hard topic. What I tell a lot of people who want to know if they should or shouldn't is to grab a wine out and pour a splash into two glasses. Put your hand over one of the glasses and shake it a few times. If you prefer the smell of that one to the non-shaken one, then decant.

"It's a bit rough but it works. You also don't necessarily need a proper decanter. I've been known to use saucepans and mixing bowls. Obviously don't use gumboots but something sterile and clean that won't transfer a smell or odour to the wine."

So there you have it. According to Duff, it's totally fine to polish a bottle in a night, make a cellar out of a fridge you found on Gumtree and decant your wine in a saucepan.

Just a reminder before we sign off -- drink responsibly, don't scrimp on your mates and aim for the "angel's sigh".

Popping is so 2014.


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