I was recently at a wedding shower where the theme was wine. Beautiful wine bottle center pieces, wine glass candles for gifts, and lighted grapes all around the room. Wine was certainly the topic of conversation and with my proud mother beside me; my secret identity was soon revealed! Well, maybe not so secret, but as soon as the ladies at our table found out I was a Sommelier, the questions began. The one that I always seem to get is “Do you really need to lay the bottles down?” I feel its time to tackle this question head on with a hearty and stead fast “Well, it depends.”
Sorry, but it does. There are other questions to attend to first. For instance, does the bottle have a cork? This is the primary reason for laying bottles on their sides. One of the main reasons winemakers use cork in the first place is its breathe-ability. It’s a natural thing that’s spongy quality seals a bottle cheaply and effectively. The sideways storage comes into play when you are looking to keep a bottle for some time, say up to a year; laying a bottle down keeps the wine up against the cork, thus keeping it moist and plump. If a wine, with a cork, is left standing upright the cork can dry out and allow air to get in, maturing the wine at a quicker rate.
If a wine has a synthetic cork, I would still recommend laying the wine down, mainly because I don’t wholly trust synthetic/plastic corks.
If the wine is topped with a screwcap or the elusive glass stopper, standing the bottle up right is just fine.
Does wine price matter?
Another question they asked was “Does price really matter?” And again, I say, “It depends.” There are a lot of boring expensive wines and a ton of delightful inexpensive wines! The best rule of thumb when buying wines is to trust in your local wine retailer. Tell them what you normally drink and as you build a relationship, they should be able to guide you to new exciting wines that you might never have picked up.
I taste at on average about 20 different wines a week, and when tasting I think of the individual customers that might like it. I have found that you can get some terrific values from Chile and Argentina today, and when I say value, I mean under $10. Generally, for everyday consumption, there are plenty of solid, good wines out there that won’t leave you reaching for the Alkaselter the next morning. Here are my picks for good values under $10, with screwcaps!
Double Decker Pinot Grigio, California, 2010 $9.99 – Fresh and floral on the nose with pear and green apple, the Double Decker is crisp and refreshing.
Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, South Eastern Australia, 2011 $6.99 – Round and creamy with notes of apple and citrus.
Cono Sur Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2009 $8.99 – Rustic and spicy with blackberry and plum.
Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza Argentina, 2010 $8.99 – Rich red and black fruits with backing spice on the finish.
So next time you are at our stores, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Our Nino’s Wine team is educated and here to help!