Has Your Wine Had Work Done?

Have you ever tried a bottle of wine someone raved about, only to be less than impressed? Perhaps you—or the restaurant you're at—just served it incorrectly. Give your wine a makeover with a few simple tricks. Air it out: Some wines get really good by the last glass, or maybe even the day after you open them. Oxygen reacts with wine that has been pent up in a bottle, helping to release the chemical compounds that bring smells to your nose. Wine geeks often refer to this oxygenation process as letting a wine "breathe." Some restaurants use a decanter to help wine along. Try pouring the bottle's contents gently back and forth between two pitchers for 30 to 40 seconds; leave the wine in the pitcher, or pour it back into the bottle. This trick mainly works with red wines, but richer whites may benefit from the treatment, too. Nip it, or not: Temperature also affects the release of those smell compounds. For example, when a red wine gets too warm, its alcohol can appear to double and it starts to taste harsh. In fact, "room temperature" is too warm for some reds. I cringe at the way some bars treat their wines, putting them near hot lights and on top of coolers throwing off hot air. A red wine should feel slightly cool when you sip it, a little warmer than the temperature of a basement. (In the summer. Not now.) By contrast, most higher-quality whites are served too cold, another common restaurant snafu. When a wine is too cold, its aromas go into hiding. Stop cooling the wine an hour before drinking, and you'll be surprised at how much more complex that little Cali chardonnay or German riesling becomes. For cheaper whites, the opposite applies. Warming them will just highlight their flaws. Don't be afraid to put a chill on your everyday reds, either. Watch that $8 bottle of Italian pizza wine taste like a million bucks—OK, $15—after 20 minutes in the fridge. Accessorize: It doesn't matter how expensive your glasses are as long as they have the right size and shape. Think of a brandy snifter: The brandy sits in the very bottom while the bowl of the glass collects aromas, waiting for you to stick your nose in and get a whiff. With wine glasses, the ideal shape is that of a pinot noir glass, which gives every wine an instant 20 percent lift. Whether you're spending $4 or $40 a glass, buy only what you're willing to break. Eat: Wine is more of a food than a cocktail. So eat something! Fatty, cheesy, and savory qualities bring out the best in wines, namely, their fruit and acidity. Cook with sea salt, soy, sesame oil, and milder herbs like thyme and marjoram, all universal flavor donors. If you want to stay out of the kitchen, aged cheeses like manchego or Parmigiano- Reggiano complement most wines. Or just serve crusty bread with a side of olive oil and salt. info@seattleweekly.com

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