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About Wine

We all love wine, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. But why? Wine can be once a basic product and a complex, enigmatic one. Present throughout history, wine has a place in every era and every corner of society from religion to cuisine, to pop culture, and the arts. The winemakers transforming grape juice into wine are essentially the culinary alchemists of our time, and our team of sommeliers at Vinum Masters works tirelessly to seek out these modern-day magicians and bring their wines directly to you.

WHAT IS wine?

When reading wine labels or wine reviews, we could be forgiven for thinking that wine contains a multitude of ingredients (a wine may have notes of cherry, cassis, plum, and cinnamon) but at no point have cherries or cinnamon been added to the wine. These aromas come exclusively from the grapes, the soils, the climate, and the winemaking know-how. These factors are collectively known as “Terroir”.

A little bit of history

The earliest evidence of winemaking has been found in Georgia, dating back to 6000BC, where it appears that wine was discovered somewhat by accident when fruit juices were stored underground during the winter and began to ferment on their own.

We tend to divide the world of wine into “Old-World” and “New-World”, where old-world is essentially Europe and new-world is everything else. Styles and qualities of wine can vary enormously from country to country, region to neighbouring region, and even property to neighbouring property, so it’s always worth trying something new or different from a trusted brand or winemaker. Old-world winemakers seek to conserve their inimitable style and heritage which has been built over many, many centuries and producing wines with this typicity is the dream of new-world winemakers.

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What makes

“good wine”?

The most important quality in a wine is balance. In dry white wines we need a balance of acidity and alcohol, and in this context, acidity is not a negative word - it provides freshness and life to the wine, without which the wine would be flat and “flabby”. Alcohol not only protects the wine as it ages, but also provides “flesh” or body to the wine. In sweet white wines, the natural sugar preserves the wines, making the wines suitable for extended aging. Instead of sugar, for red wines we add tannins to the equation. Tannins are found in the grape skins and seeds, and although they mellow over time, they provide a structure, a backbone to the wine. Without tannins, a young red wine will be unlikely to age well.

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Once a bottle has been opened,
how long can I keep it?

This depends very much on the style of wine. As a rule, all opened wines should be recorked and kept in the fridge or at the very least in a cool, dark place. The composition of red wines means that they will keep for longer, often up to a week before the contact with the air turns them into vinegar. Dry white and rosé wines have less stamina and can start to lose their fruit flavours after 2-3 days. Sparkling wines and champagnes will only hold on to their precious bubbles for about 24 hours after opening, so any leftover fizz is a great excuse to make Mimosas or Buck’s Fizz!

HOW LONG CAN I STORE A wine?

Again, this depends on the style of wine, and the quality of the producer. In general, we can keep a light bodied red for a couple of years, and as the wines get fuller bodied with more structure and alcohol they’ll keep for longer, with the finest examples being suitable for aging for over 30 years without breaking a sweat. Sparkling wines are more complicated, but we could generalise and say that Prosecco and Crémant should be drunk within a few years along with non-vintage Spanish Cava. Vintage Cava can be held a while longer, whereas Franciacorta and Champagne can benefit from further aging, with top quality vintage Champagne being worth keeping for ten years or even more!

What does it mean when
a wine is “corked”?

You’ve almost certainly come across this term along your wine journey but maybe not been entirely sure what this means. This happens when bacteria present in the cork react with chlorine-based products generally used for cleaning the winery, and produce a chemical called TCA. This results in aromas of damp, wet cardboard, mouldy cellars, or even wet dog! This also masks the fruit and floral aromas of the wine, leaving it flat and uninteresting on the palate. If you ever encounter this problem in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to call your server and ask them to check and replace the bottle.

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