Wine Dharma

DharMag December 2011 Spice up your Christmas with five simple rules, relax and merry Christmas!

2003 Mazzano, one of the best Amarone della Valpolicella you will find. Christmas is coming: time for our cellar to flex its muscels! Christmas is coming. The tree is up, the lights are shining brightly, people’s spirits are high and goodness is all around us, you can smell it, despite the deepest crisis since the Black Death of the 1348, but never mind. Hey, it’s Christmas! And behind this cheerful atmosphere, the wise wine lover knows that there is a bigger risk than the European bankruptcy: the most exciting time of the year will put on test his wine cellar. Christmas is not only a pious moment to share with family, but it’s also a challenge, or better: the final challenge. Because after a full year of dedication in wine studying, cellar exploring and sampling, all will be decided by one lunch. But we know that the major test is with ourselves. Did we do well? Is our wine knowledge improving?

Wine is not just a passion or a gratification, is much more, because it’s an indication of what we are. Our cellar is like our library, the place where we relax and meditate. Cicero considered his books as special freinds, which he was used to discussing with. It’s what we do with wine, except for the alienation stuff. We feel comfortable near our wine, we keep some bottles for notable occasions such as the birth of a son, we check and undust the bottles waiting for the right maturation to cork them up with friends. We might paraphrase as it follows: if you tell me what wine you have in your cellar, I’ll tell you who you are. So be prapared, because you don’t have a second chance. Yeah, you could win back your losses during the New Year’s Eve party, but the magic is gone.

Be a wine story-teller not a wine geek

Glera wineyards, in the hills around Conegliano, the land of Prosecco. A picture is worth a thousand words. Conegliano: Prosecco Land Your guests don’t care about technical details, instead of cryo-fermentation and peronospera try something funny. You are not going to need Shakespeare’s eloquence, just talk about where the wine comes from and how was your tour in the winery.

Did you make a program for serving the wines?

Which includes starting with ligh and delicate white wines, like bubbles, light rosè too, 8°-10°C, to the bigger and more tannic ones, just to finish with dessert wines, again bubbles first then Sauternes style wines, 7°-9°C. Remember that there must be an alcoholic progression: you can’t go backwards, above all if some spirits are expected to join the party for the gran finale.

Check the temperature of service, also during the meal

Higher temperatures will emphasize soft and sweet sensations, while the lower ones will make the wine taste saltier, bitter and more tannic. The Spumante you are going to serve, lacks a little sizzle to be perfectly matched with your creamy appetizer? No problem, just bring the temperature down a few degrees and the acidity will pop up.

Let’s be open minded

18°C for full body, tannic red wines is ok, but you should add two degrees if we are talking about very old and rare wine. When we open an aged, let’s say above 20 years, bottle we are bringing to life a fragile being. So don’t decant it or the abrupt oxygenation will spoil their magnificence. Let him breath in the glass. After 30 minutes a 1995 Amarone Quintarelli is a totally different wine: it is much deeper and its aromas will have reached an amazing ripeness.

But this is true also for white wines. Serving a white, old wine, which has done very long maceration, as it would be an easy going Pinot Grigio it’s a crime! And I’m referring to the Ribolla Gialla of many good wineries from Friuli, like Castellada, Gravner and Princic. Great, complex and a little tannic, white wines that can be paired with rich dishes like roast meat or smoked herring soup. Consider a temperature of 14°-15°C.16°C is the right temperature for young, acid red wines with notes of fresh fruits and soft tannins. So let’s learn to manage the evolution and the temperature to adjust the texture of wine and don’t forget your priceless Champagne in the ice, at 4° you can’t feel any flavors.

Work as a team with your partner

A tasty Indonesian dish, Cumi bumbu, squid with turmeric spice. Cumi Bumbu is a delicious Indonesian dish! Do you have the right wine for its intense spices? Because the time of food and wine service should be in sync if you are looking for perfection. A very hot stew is like flowing lava in your mouth and your mighty Cabernet Sauvignon will taste flabby. And if you can, I know it’s very difficult for a wine zealot, try to start from the dish, because in the balance of flavors food has the upper hand and your pairing will always be a successful. May the God of grapes bless you all!

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