Wine is dead. Is this the end?

Posted by Jay Lee and edited by Peter Koff MW on 23rd Jul 2018

Wine is dead. Is this the end?

NOT ALWAYS!

Wine too has a lifecycle. Wine also experiences infancy, youth, midlife, prime age and senescence just like human beings. Wine’s aroma and taste develop, wither and eventually decay.

This is the reason you must be careful when you decant wine. The rapid exposure of wine to air causes quicker oxidation, effectively aging the wine faster. With young wines, this is often desirable as it may mellow out an angular wine. With older wines rapid oxidation may cause the wine to lose bouquet and fruit, a process known as “drying out.” If you are not careful, you can quickly lose some of the anticipated benefits of extended maturation. This is not reversible.

Most wine experiences this phase. However, there is always are many exceptions in the wine world.

Some very special types of wine were made to achieve venerable age and to develop tertiary characteristics over many years. Sherry, Vin Jaune, Port and Marsala are just some examples.

The dry styles of Sherry, and Vin Jaune have a unique character imparted to them by aging oxidatively under a special yeast called ”flor.” These wines have already been intentionally oxidized so are not as sensitive to oxygen exposure. Sherries, Ports and Marsalas are also fortified to a greater or lesser extent. Fortification refers to the addition of spirituous liquor to the wine. The higher alcohol allows the wine to age for an extended period, thereby enabling it to develop a range of tertiary characteristics. Dry Sherry and Vin Jaune develop nutty characteristics. Port and Marsala display their somewhat spirituous character and are often redolent of raisins.

Every wine has its own characteristics. Let’s judge wines by the intent of the winemaker and not our natural biases!

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