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Saturday, 5 January 2013

Wine by the glass and oxidation. It's you, not me.

I tried today a single variety wine by the glass at a hotel with wine credentials.  My heart fell slightly when I saw, as first wine drinking customer of the day, the bottle was already open and the screwcap came off without a click.  I didn't say anything.  Perhaps I should have.  Plainly the bottle had been opened yesterday.  Or earlier.  The result was an acceptable enough wine, but the beginnings of oxidation had led its character becoming blurred, and its freshness lost.  Drinkable sure, but not probably what the winemaker intended nor frankly what I enjoy drinking.  "Red wine" became a plausible description.

Ever with pen or phone in hand, I not surprisingly formed the view that there was no point in writing this wine up.  Too much effort for something probably unrepresentative.  An uncommonly sighted local single variety cabernet franc and a potential candidate in my perpetual quest to find the red wines of Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Chinon and St Nicolas de Bourgueil grown well on Australian soil passed.  

Bottles being kept open too long are not limited to this hotel, nor this day, unfortunately.  I see it enough at other restaurants and at some cellar doors.  I write up few cellar door wines, and only restaurant wines if I see the bottle, it's been opened recently and it's not too awkward to get to that point.  Not being a sommelier or bar/restaurant owner or cellar door manager, the management of wine bottles by the glass is not my raison d'être.  I do however have a reasonable grasp of economics, and less commonly about wine.  I wonder whether it makes sense to be keeping table wines open for longer than a day without taking low cost steps to minimise oxidation (various devices seem to do this quite well) or just throwing the wine out in view of the marginal costs involved.  I am not talking about Grange by the glass here.  Actually scrub that - the same logic should apply.  Long opened wine generally won't show at its best, and people who care about wine won't care to try more.

Interested in your thoughts on this.

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