Bottom’s Up, NO

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Here’s a myth I’ve wanted to debunk for a while now:
“Wine should be stored upside down or on its side.”

Why it’s wrong:
There’s actually enough humidity in the bottle to keep the cork from drying and cracking.
People’ve actually done scientific studies on this.

How the myth gets promoted:
It comes down to packaging.   Wineries using automated bottling lines find it faster to grab the bottles by the neck and put them in the box.  Thereby having to tape the neck side.  As it is easier to open the boxes from the other side, the taped side goes down.  Box manufacturers expect this and print boxes accordingly.    Wineries buy into the myth, because the system is designed for it.   The other main reason is that wine is often stored on it’s side in wine racks.  This isn’t because it has to be; it’s because its the cheapest way to store wine and have access.

Why you should care:
Bottles stored upside down leave all of their sediment in the neck.  While this may make for pretty dark ended corks, it also means some of that sediment comes out every time you pour.  The point of the punt in the bottom of the bottle is to help settle the solids out so you don’t drink them.  The irony is that you’ll often see an expensive bottle with a very large punt stored upside down, making it solely a marketing tactic.

If you store your wine on its side in a rack, make sure to keep it upright for a while before drinking it.

Good wine is often unfiltered and settles out.  That doesn’t mean you have to drink grit.   Just enjoy the wine.


The sweet smell of laundry

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This summer I’m going to try to get the blog back up and running.  Or, I should say initially up and running.   I’m hoping to make the blog about all things wine: things I’ve learned, myths I can debunk, and just cool places to go or wines to try.

I thought I’d start the summer with a new lesson I learned last weekend: the detriment of overly cleaned dishcloths.

I’ve known how terrible wine can be if even the slightest residue of soap remains in the glass ever since I was a harvest intern.  The winemaker and cellar master had invited me to participate in a tasting to come up with descriptors for the club tasting notes.  As they raved about one of the wine and filled the small kitchen with superlatives, I clammed up, wondering whether I should even be in this business as I sipped what I thought was a horrible wine.  Turned out, my glass simply hadn’t been rinsed well enough.   Ever since then I’ve been a stickler, some might say a bit of an ass, about making sure my glasses were rinsed heavily and no trace of soap would ever taint my wine.

I’ve had occasion to call out my father-in-law about this, to the point that he never uses soap on his glasses and always washes them by hand.   And I still give him a hard time.  Then, this weekend, I found out why I was wrong.   While hand cleaning glasses at a wine pouring, several people turned up their noses at my wine.  I was embarrassed.   I kept checking the bottle to see if it was corked, but no, they must just have bad taste.   When it continued to happen, I grabbed another glass and sipped.  I recognized the taste immediately; soap.  I rinsed again.  All clear.  I don’t know how many times it took before I realized the problem.   The dish towels that I was drying the glasses with were so  heavily perfumed by the laundry soap, that it was rubbing off on the inside of the glass, ruining the wine.   It’s a simply thing, but a new one for me.    Now before I dry, I check the towel.  If it smells like perfumed laundry, don’t use it to dry a wine glass.   I think I’ll be buying perfume free detergent from now on.