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Mwalls's picture

Keeping Wine (post #36915)

Hey everyone,

Happy New Year!

I saw a thread on here recently about storing alcohol. I remember reading some, but cannot find it in the search engine now. I have a question that may have been answered there.

I have about 10 bottles of wine; some white, some red. They are about 2 years old (mostly for my wife who now lives elsewhere). I would like to use them for cooking. They have been stored upright. Again, they are unopened with the foil wrapping untouched.

Might they still be good?

Thanks,
Matt

BonnieinHolland's picture

Matt, I am sorry to say that two years standing upright doesn't sound promising in the least.  Oxidation is more than likely.  (Foil wrapping doesn't make a difference, by the way.  That's only cosmetic, for cleanliness, chateau logo, etc.)  I'd get them on their sides right away and start cooking pronto.  cheers, Bonnie

shoechick's picture

Only one way to find out :)

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

ashleyd's picture

Well they might, depends where they have been stood, how good the corks are and how lucky you feel. In an ideal world they would have been stored in a fairly cool place with no great temperature variations, somewhere dark and on their sides. The further you get from any of those the less chance you have of them being in perfect condition. Having said that, unless you have been remarkably unlucky at least half of them should be suitable for cooking and some even fit for drinking. But do use them soon, check each bottle when you open it, oxidation is fairly obvious, it will smell and taste slightly burnt, sometimes you will get "bottle reek" when the air between the wine and the cork has become tainted, but that will disappear within an hour of opening. If after an hour of being opened you have any doubts (smell or taste) then ditch it, otherwise feel grateful that it has survived and cook with it.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

SquarePeg's picture

Completely depends on the wine.


What wines are they? - some whites are intended to be drunk now, so they may not age well at all, much less storage.


Only one way to be sure, ya know...... pop 'em open!


If they are corked, you'll get a musty smell. If you don't like the taste, toss it!

ashleyd's picture

Corked wine is due to a fault in the cork, practically nothing to do with ageing. A musty smell is more likely to be "bottle reek" rather than a corked wine, when you have a corked wine it smells of dirty wet dog and is deeply unpleasant. Corked wine is much rarer than people think and it tends to be blamed when all sorts of other things are the cause - oxidation, poor hygiene, badly made wine, overheating, any number of reasons. It is a commonly stated "fact" that some wines "do not age well" which is taken to mean that they detiorate rapidly, when all it really means is that they do not improve in the bottle (as good red wines tend to do). In most cases the reality is that if you drink it now, or in a years time it will taste pretty much the same, but that is true of most things you buy in bottles, jars or cans. Cynic that I am I suspect that this "fact" was put about originally by French winemakers to encourage you to drink what you have as soon as possible so they could sell you the new vintage and hence clear their surplus stocks.


As the owner of a fairly extensive cellar of wine of very mixed age and quality every once in a while I have a "cellar clearance dinner" when I serve wines that have been tucked away in odd corners and, according to conventional wisdom, are well past their "drink by" date. So far practically everything in the lower and middle ranges has proved to be eminently drinkable, the only real disasters have been things like Meursault and Premier Cru Chablis which are supposed to have ageing potential, and I suspect that they were always going to be a disappointment.



Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

SquarePeg's picture

14% or so of wine is corked. I'm a big fan of synthetic closures.

gjander66's picture

I've read that statistic--or close approximations--but have become deeply suspicious of it. I've been attending weekly wine tastings every week for nearly two years now. We taste between 10 and 14 wines each week so I'm close to 1000 wines in that time period apart from what I normally drink. Most of that has been newer vintage but we've also tasted wines from the 80's and 90's. We've only encountered a handful of corked wines--memorably a $100/bottle brunello among others. I personally am not a big fan of synthetic corks--screw caps are the future.

Edited 1/3/2009 8:22 pm ET by gjander66

Edited 1/3/2009 8:28 pm ET by gjander66


Edited 1/3/2009 8:36 pm ET by gjander66

SquarePeg's picture

I think the % is down these days because of sythetics and irradiated corks, too.


Edited 1/3/2009 9:17 pm ET by SquarePeg

BonnieinHolland's picture

The actual incident of cork around the world is probably around 4 percent now, due to the cork industry working hard to avoid or eliminate TCA in cork.  cheers, Bonnie

ashleyd's picture

14% or so of wine is corked


Blatant rubbish. I drink wine regularly, attend monthly tastings, store wine for a local wine society, so I must try hundreds of bottles during a year and the incidence of corked wine is a few percent. By this I mean wine with TCA taint, true "corked" wine. On top of this I have had wine which has oxidised, wine which has clearly picked up some other taint in the process and wine which was badly made, but even with all these faults it doesn't come to one bottle in seven. Flawed wine, assuming that you buy a variety of wine from respectable supply chains, will account for less than one bottle in twenty.



Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Bronwynsmom's picture

At the risk of regional disloyalty (I'm Virginia-born and bred), I would not expect great things from the Biltmore or the Williamsburg wines. We try and try to support our local wine producers, believing passionately that local is best, and that keeping land in agriculture as its highest and best use is devoutly to be wished...but we have a long way to go in producing really good wine. That said, it's likely good enough for casual sipping or for deglazing and braising, as long as it hasn't gone 'round the bend in one of ashleyd's well-described ways. I think you have the right idea, which is to knock back a sip and judge for yourself.

SquarePeg's picture

I do think it's down significantly these days. The new closures and the irradiation are helping quite a bit. My dh says that it's hard to really quantify because many don't send back corked wine and much of the wine they get back isn't corked at all. Must've have off aromas, the blew off by the time it gets back to the distributor. He says that it's funny, but the returns are heavier from the retail outlets. He guesses the staff at restaraunts waits for the wine to blow off and can tell the difference.

ashleyd's picture

It's almost certainly better, but I've had an interest in wine for more than 30 years and from personal experience I don't think it was ever as bad as some people claimed. Personally I regret the loss of real cork, partly because the whole ecosystem and economy that is supported by quercus suber (the cork oak) will disappear, and the Stelvin closure is never going to have the romance of the cork. And we will still get "off" wine, though again this is dropping as better hygiene techniques are used in the wine making process, from the harvest through to bottling.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

SquarePeg's picture

I agree with you that the stelvins can't match the romance of cork, but it does have several benefits. For one, wine can be stored upright. The fruit also stays longer. No leaks. Of course, no TCA. They don't allow oxygen in like a synthetic does. And don't leave a synthetic taste. Stelvins have been around for decades, but catching on in more mainstream wineries. Randall Grahm converted over everything - but then again, he's been an early adopter on a bunch of things. The synthetics are fine for short term wines. I bet that the vast majority of wines we drink in America are drunk soon after purchase, so the whole cellaring argument is about a small portion of the buyers. I prefer the extruded corks over supremecorq - they just act more like real cork. Wonder about the need to produce more plastics, tho. I do think that the cork industry is going to be fine - the new push in flooring and other applications for cork is really picking up.

roz's picture

<<<I do think that the cork industry is going to be fine - the new push in flooring and other applications for cork is really picking up.>>>

Wooden flute makers use cork to wrap the tenons and cork is used at the top of the head joint. That's one application.

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
SquarePeg's picture

I didn't know that.


There's all kinds of stuff: bricks for the outside of houses, baseballs. Flooring and interior decoration. Trivets, placemats, etc. Floating things (think fishing) and insulating things (for cool temps).


I think somebody even made a stamp out of cork! There's cork paper, sometimes used in cigarettes and writing papers.


I'd love to have cork floors. They are quiet, warm and really pretty.

thecooktoo's picture

I don't think we'll see the complete demise of the cork as a wine closure in our lifetime.  But I guess that depends on how long we live!


With the growth of the wine industry and the overall growth of the market, it would have been impossible for the cork producers to keep up with demand anyway.  We had to have plastics, stelvins and processed cork in order to close all the bottles that the wineries are putting out.  I think we'll always see the big red wines, no matter where from, that are going to be laid down for a number of years, remain with cork closures.  I suspect that we'll see more and more whites going to stelvins.


Jeffrey Grosset in Australia has also gone almost totally to Stelvins. I heard at a professional seminar a couple of years ago that the reason  he started putting everything under stelvins was because he lost almost 10% of one years production to bad corks (TCA) and that it damn near broke him.  Last week I found the first I can remember white from New Zealand with a cork.  I thought that NZ was 100% Stelvins, but apparently not!


BTW, what's the deal with Grahm...does he still have Bonny Doone?  I see the Big House is now a separate company...is it still his?


Jim


 


Edited 1/4/2009 2:33 pm ET by thecooktoo

SquarePeg's picture

I think you are right - cork isn't going to go away.


Randall is crazy like a fox. IIRC, he sued his cork manufacturer over that episode. His "cork funeral parties" were a hoot, tho.


The swiss have been in stelvins for 20 or 30 years and I haven't had a real cork out of NZ in forever. Australia overloaded the stelcap manufacturers a while back, but I think supply has caught up with demand.


It's interesting to watch all this develop with the stelvins. it's even dipping into the old world mentality - DRC and Chateau Margaux are rumored to be seriously considering a switch.


 


 

SquarePeg's picture

<<BTW, what's the deal with Grahm...does he still have Bonny Doone?  I see the Big House is now a separate company...is it still his?>>


Randall still has the Bonny Doon labels, but sold the big house line and other chunks to the Wine Group.

ashleyd's picture

I still get some NZ with corks, although even Cloudy Bay is with stelvins now.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

assibams's picture

While I like the stelvin screw tops , I prefer these: http://www.vino-lok.de/


Resist the temptation to over-clean. After all, how many times do you need to kill the same germ.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

MadMom's picture

Wow!  How neat!  On the rare occasion when we don't finish a bottle, it would be nice to be able to correctly reseal it.



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assibams's picture

I have no real problem with the screwtops, but the glass stoppers are a lot more elegant - and easier to open, too.


Resist the temptation to over-clean. After all, how many times do you need to kill the same germ.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

ashleyd's picture

I've only read about these so far, not seen them over here.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

SquarePeg's picture

I haven't seen them in mass production, yet in the US, either.

assibams's picture

Quite a number of vintners in Germany and Austria have started to use them. IIRC they are a bit more expensive than the stelvins, about the cost of a good quality cork (which my dad was told by several vintners is around €1 these days).


Very neat, however. You remove the protective foil and just tip the glass stopper to one side until you hear a slight crack and the bottle is open. Once the foil is off even arthritic fingers could open the bottle.



Resist the temptation to over-clean. After all, how many times do you need to kill the same germ.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

soupereasy's picture

Used to frequent the Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars in St Helena CA. He was a great advocate of the bottle caps for sparkling wines.


For those ready to jump in and say that it isn't Champagne etc. He labeled it California Champagne. Mind you this was early '80's.

Mwalls's picture

I have about 6 white wines from the "Biltmore Estate" collection in North Carolina, and then a couple of red wines from Williamsburg.

I will go ahead and use them in cooking, and watch for the smell when I first open them (and the taste).

I have just gotten back into cooking after a long hiatus. That is one of the reasons the wine hung around. I treated myself this holiday season by hiring a HVAC company to come into my house and run a gas line to the stove area so I could get rid of my electric range and get a good gas range. Made my first "real" meal on it tonight. Seared steak with Tarragon/Shallot sauce. Was yummy.

SquarePeg's picture

Good luck. Hope they are all wonderful.

ashleyd's picture

Ah, that worries me. When we went to Biltmore we had a tasting of the wine they produced and one was seriously corked. When I mentioned this to the "host" he looked at it and said he couldn't see any cork in it. I found this level of ignorance at a winery to be deeply disturbing, so I only hope for your sake things have improved, especially as the the wine that was not corked was, at best, mediocre.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.