Questions you’ve always wanted to ask about wine (but didn’t have time before lockdown!).

Wine is made from grapes – so why are there so many flavours noticeable in wine?

Each grape variety such as sauvignon blanc or merlot is made up of different ‘aromatic compounds’. These compounds become apparent when the wine is fermented. Interestingly where the grape is grown plays a big part on how it tastes in the finished bottle of wine. Compare Sancerre (sauvignon blanc grown in France) with a Marlbourough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. A Sancerre doesn’t have many fruity notes its much more flinty and stony whereas a sauvignon from Marlborough if full of gooseberry, citrus and herb like notes.


What are tannins?

They come from the skins, stems and seeds of grapes. They are the bitterness you can sometimes taste in wine remember what it tastes like to bite on grape pips or to chew the grape skin on its own! You can experience tannins in liquid by sipping a cup of black tea that’s been brewed for a few minutes. Tannins can be described in a number of different ways. Velvety, or plush – this means the wine has aged enough to soften them or the wine has been made with super ripe grapes in a country with a warm climate – Australia for instance. If they are described as ‘grippy’ or even astingent then usually the wine is quite young and comes from a cooler climate.


How long can I keep wine once it’s opened?

This depends on personal taste but bear in mind that oxygen is wine’s number one enemy. If you leave a third of a bottle of wine for a couple of days it will start to develop sherry or vinegar like characteristics as the oxygen in the rest of the bottle affects it. You can actually turn left over wine into vinegar – just google how to do it!


Why do sulphites cause headaches and hangovers?

The answer is they don’t! It’s actually dehydration that causes hangovers. Sulphites in wine get a really bad press but actually there are much higher levels of sulphites in dried fruits and other foods.


When I smell and taste a wine in a restaurant how would I know if the wine is faulty.

Trust us – if the wine is corked you’ll know! It will smell of pretty unpleasant things like old musty carpets and cardboard, wet dog and there will be now fruit notes. Just a dull and mouldy smell.


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