Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Decanting - The Answer for Hidden Terroir!

In a recent piece over on Appellation America Dan Berger wrote the following

“one of the key factors in all great wine - evidence of the terroir - is easily obliterated early in a wine’s life, and the only way to access it is to decant the wine and allow air to work its magic.”

OK Dan, I’ll bite. Before you arrived at this enlightened moment of wine truth just how many wines did you find that revealed their terroir following decanting? And by that I mean performing a triangulation test with one bottle decanted for a few hours compared to a freshly opened bottle?

I have no doubt that Berger is correct in saying that some wines can exhibit sulfur (and other) odors soon after a cork is pulled or a screwcap ceremoniously removed in the Helm manner. And these odors can mask the depth and complexity of the wine. But for exposure to air to reveal hidden terroir is bunkum. Just like any other aspect of wine lore aeration produces effects that can be entirely subjective. If you don’t believe me get a couple of bottles of one wine and a few friends together and do your own triangulation test.

What is a triangulation test? In essence it is a test to see if a taster can distinguish between two wines (or as I have used in decanting experiments here on SHIRAZ - decanted versus non-decanted wine). Two glasses receive one wine and a third the other wine. It is the task of the taster to identify which glasses contain which wine. And because two glasses have the same wine it shouldn’t be all that hard, right Dan!

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