Monday, December 26, 2005

Wine, wine, whine!

According to Professor Bainbridge, the time has come for the cork to be replaced by the screw-cap for wine. I suppose that ultimately the quality of the wine is the ultimate concern, but there's just a romance to pulling a cork, a sense of history about it: when I drive the worm of my corkscrew into the cork, I always feel a bit like I'm still doing something that people were doing two hundred years ago and more, even in this tech-driven world. But then, I'm little more than a rank novice when it comes to wine, and I doubt I'll ever get farther than this, since I've never bought wine by the case and since my preferred method of wine shopping, aside from picking up a few standby favorites like Cockburn's Ruby Port, is to wander the aisles at the local wine emporium (two of which are within two miles of my home!) and go, "Hey, that one there's got the coolest label and it's less than ten bucks!" Yeah, some conaisseur.

Anyhow, if wine goes the way of the screwcap, that's fine with me, I suppose. But I have a couple of questions:

1. Is this more a drive for continued refinement of the quality control aspect of the vintner's craft, or has cork-making itself suffered as a craft in recent years? In other words, are corks becoming more faulty these days, or is this just a case of a better way being found?

2. If, as I've read in the wine-reading I've done, the true enemies of wine are light and air, why is there so little love for the box? Is there something inherently inferior about the nonreactive bag in the heavy cardboard box to darkened glass? Is the box so good at preserving wine that the effects of aging are therefore nullified? Just curious.

For those who care about such things, my most valuable bottle of wine is undoubtedly a 375-ml (not sure what the specific term for that bottle size is) of Sauternes, bottled in 1989. I took a look at it the other day, and it has, as Wine for Dummies promised, aged to a gorgeous deep gold, not unlike a very old gold coin. When I bought that bottle, close to ten years ago, I decided that I'd open it when I sold my first novel. Lucky for me that Sauternes apparently ages very well.

As for the rest of my wine "collection", I have something like fifteen or so bottles at this moment. A few reds, a few whites (I have three New York State Rieslings that I've got to try), and two bottles each of Port and Sherry. (I love Port and Sherry.) I also have two bottles of sparkling wine, a bottle of Sake, and a bottle of mead that I just bought today. Yup, I'm a rank beginner, and fine with it. After all, one of my reds on hand is something called "Red Ipocras", which is a spiced wine. I imagine that if I tried serving that to James Bond, I'd be on the business end of his Walther PPK right quick.

(Original link via 2Blowhards. I also see that Professor Bainbridge, in addition to his regular blog that I don't read that often for reasons passing understanding, has a blog devoted to wine. I may check that one out more often, even though I'm pretty much of a "Ooooooh, pretty!" guy when it comes to wine.)

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