I'm a pretty hard-core wine geek, currently living in a country where I cannot buy properly aged wines. I’ve had great wines such as Almaviva and Purple Angel when mature and hate drinking them so young. Would blendering a great but young wine help it taste more like it does when it’s properly matured?
Readers of last Friday’s newsletter will recall that I addressed the subject of "hyperdecanting" wine in a kitchen blender. This is the technique whereby you can soften and improve the flavour of a young wine by aggressively frothing it on the high setting of your Osterizer (or any other blender) for 30 to 60 seconds. The idea is to accelerate the wine’s exposure to air, rounding out the astringent tannins and enhancing the wine’s fruitiness. Hyperdecanting is just a fast alternative to old-school decanting, which involves pouring a wine into a pitcher and letting it sit around for a few minutes or hours to mingle with air.
In my experience, decanting is not a surrogate for long-term cellaring. You’ll get a potentially more complex flavour profile but your young Chilean cabernet won’t suddenly taste like a 1982 Bordeaux. As wine ages, aided by slow exposure to air through the porous cork, the chemical transformation is much more elaborate. It may in fact taste less fruity than it would have had you opened it soon after bottling, but that fruitiness can give way to so-called secondary and tertiary notes, revealing an underlying earthiness. With some red wines you’ll be able to detect notes of leather, tobacco, mineral and forest foliage, for example.
But if you’ve been unsatisfied with expensive, tannic red wines in their youth and don’t want to wait a decade or more for the big prize, decanting is a good way to accelerate the aging process in a modest, subtle way. Think of decanting as you would going to school. It will make you smarter faster, but it’s not going to give you all the wisdom you’ll achieve by living long enough to become a senior citizen.
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