Wine can be a good companion and a great ally during lockdown to enhance those precious little moments we spend with our family or even if we are alone. The team at Abadía Retuerta, including our winemaker Ángel Anocíbar, suggest a few useful tips to enjoy wine at home: the right accessories, how to serve it, and the secrets to keep wine in good condition if we do not finish the bottle.
What do I do with any leftover wine, what’s the right temperature to serve the wine, how many glasses do I need, what are the essential accessories required at home? We have compiled a few guidelines so that you can fully enjoy all the wines you open during these days. The most important thing is to choose the most appropriate glass and serve the wine at the right temperature.
Glassware. It is important that the bowl is wide, so that the wine can be swirled and its aromas fully appreciated. The most versatile glass is the burgundy type, with the bowl going in towards the rim. Another important detail: a thin glass provides a more subtle experience when the wine enters the mouth.
Temperature. There’s no excuse for not planning ahead and ensuring that the wine we choose is at the right temperature. We’re at home! The general recommendation, which should always be adapted to personal tastes, is about 6º C (43 ºF) for sparkling wines, increasing slightly for young whites and rosés (6-8 ºC or 43-46 ºF), whites and rosés with some ageing (9-12 ºC or 48-53 ºF), young reds (12-14ºC or 53-57 ºF) and reds with some ageing (16-18ºC or 60-64 ºF).
How many accessories do I need?
In addition to the glass, the most important one is a corkscrew. We recommend the waiter’s friend or “two-stroke” corkscrew, as the cork can be extracted gradually in two stages, and it is very easy to use. For wines of some age, we recommend the Ah-So bottle opener which avoids piercing the cork. For very old wines, the favourite of wine enthusiasts is the Durand which combines the two prongs and screw and helps to maintain the integrity of the cork during extraction.
While not essential, it also helps to have a foil cutter and wine drip stoppers to hand, which are invaluable in preventing a single drop of wine from being spilled on the tablecloth.
Although with obvious limitations in lockdown, the company and the mood clearly influence the appreciation of wine. No matter whether you are alone or with your family, there is always a way to adapt what’s in the glass to your situation. We suggest young and light wines to enjoy as an appetiser on your patio or for a quick meal. More complex wines or wines with some ageing are excellent for special meals. And why not pour yourself a sweet or a fortified wine to relax at the end of the day while watching a movie, your favorite series or your Instagram feed?
What do we do with the bottles we don’t finish? As our winemaker Ángel Anocíbar points out, it is important to understand that “the great enemy of wine is oxygen: the greater the exposure, the greater the evolution”.
Consequently, the winery tries to protect its wines as much as possible by means of reducing the number of rackings, using the carbon dioxide naturally released during winemaking as a protective element, and using nitrogen in the bottling lines to keep the presence of oxygen in the bottle to a minimum.
It is useful to know that young wines last longer once opened because they are better protected by the sulphur dioxide added before bottling. This also applies to wines that have recently been released in the market, such as Semi-Crianzas, Crianzas and Reservas. Old wines require more attention and it is convenient to plan when to open the bottle to ensure that it can be drunk within the day or, at most, the following day.
“Once the bottle is opened,” says Angel, ” we need to lower the temperature to reduce oxidation.” It is therefore advisable to store the wine in the fridge. Vacuum stoppers are useful to extend life (the less amount of wine left in the bottle, the more space there is for oxygen and the faster the evolution). The original stopper of the bottle can also be used, but always ensuring that it is placed in the same position as it was. If it does not fit, cleaning the part that has been in contact with the outside is recommended. Bottles should be stored upright.
The most discerning can always resort to the Coravin, a device that lets you enjoy wine without pulling the cork out of the bottle. It uses a minimally invasive needle and inserts argon gas into the bottle to prevent oxidation.