I usually figure out several weeks in advance what my blog topics are going to be and I usually select one topic to report on each week. This week I am going to change the normal format and write on several topics. In the future I may do this once a month or so.
This week I want to discuss the term “still wine” as well as getting broken corks from a bottle.
I was reading a wine article last week and the topic of still wine was touched on. I believe it is a term that isn’t used very frequently but it is important to know and understand. It will likely come up when you are ordering a wine in a higher-end restaurant.
Still wine is primarily a type of table wine. It can be red, white or rosé. The wine is absent of any carbon dioxide (CO2). The lack of CO2 makes the wine still, or rather not bubbly, fizzy or sparkling.
The CO2 is a part of the fermentation process and is released when yeast and sugar (the sugar either is added or it comes naturally from the grapes) are mixed together. All wines, at some point during the process of making, them have bubbles present.
I would assume you have all seen, on TV or in films, pictures of wine in vats or tanks when it is bubbling. If you make your own wine or have been to vineyards you might have seen the bubbling first hand.
Still wines are treated to remove CO2, however sometimes a small amount of bubbles remain. Any remaining bubbles in your wine (bottle) will disappear by decanting the wine. These remaining bubbles can be seen around the edge or bottom of your wine glass when poured. The bubbles will in no way affect the taste of the wine.
Most wines produced today are still wines (non-sparkling) and contain alcohol levels between 8% and 15%. Let me mention again that any remaining bubbles (CO2) will not affect the taste of your wine.
Extracting Old Corks
Several weeks ago I was sharing a bottle of wine with my good friend Brad Richards. The wine was a 1997 Ornellaia which is an Italian red wine. As I removed the cork it split in half, leaving a portion of the cork in the neck of the bottle. Of course the weakest portion of the cork always remains and most of the time it is the most crumbly part. That adds to the difficulty of removing the cork and one’s frustration, at least mine. I have written before on cork removal but after my recent experience I wanted to discuss it again.
As we all know, simply put, corks are the bark of trees, this makes corks susceptible to aging as well as natural deterioration over time. However, that said, it is also amazing how well most corks hold up over decades of time. I have pulled corks on much older wines than the wine I mentioned above and I am glad to say that the extracting went just fine.
When you get in the same situation I did or experience a crumbly cork there are a couple of basic things to remember. First, this will not usually affect the taste of the wine. You do need to check the portion of the cork you got out to check for wine lines (streaks) up the side of the cork. This indicates that the wine might be corked or oxidized. The streaks should put you on alert to smell and taste the wine once you pour it. If the wine smells like wet cardboard it isn’t any good to drink.
There are two methods to use when you have a cork stuck in the bottle. First, you can (and should have on hand) use what is known as Butler’s Thief (sometimes also called a Butler’s Friend). The best-known brand is Ah-So. This device has two short blades that are inserted on both sides of the cork which helps prevent further damage to the cork. Once the Ah-So is inserted you have to carefully turn (slow and gently) and wiggle the cork out.
If you don’t have an Ah-So you can continue to use your wine key to try and remove the cork. If unsuccessful, push the remaining cork into the bottle. Then use a wine sieve when pouring the wine into a decanter. This will remove any pieces of cork or sediment in the bottle and allow you to enjoy the bottle of wine.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- August 18th – International Pinot Noir Day
- September 3rd – International Cabernet Day
- September 15th – International Grenache Day
- November 7th – International Merlot Day
- November 12th – International Tempranillo Day
- November 15th – International Zinfandel Day
- December 16th – National Wine Club Day
- December 20th – National Sangria Day
- December 31st – National Champagne Day