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Wine women and breathing. What say you?

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Wine women and breathing. What say you?

Old 21st Sep 2008, 22:18
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Wine women and breathing. What say you?

My wife thinks I'm being cheap if I appear at a friend's house with a red wine that had been opened. I argue that to be fit to drink, it has to have been breathed for at least two hours. She says, in other words, it looks naf.

Firstly, what is the value of breathing? Is it also true for white?

Secondly, toting wine to your host's house is a bit naf in the first place, but opened? What do you think?
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Old 21st Sep 2008, 22:29
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Well if someone arrived at one's humble abode with an opened bottle of wine, even if the motive was good, such as allowing the red to breath beforehand, I would be a bit unhappy. It would be as if the guest/visitor had not the respect to bring a 'new' gift with them, as it's really just symbolic. If guests were coming I would already have wine ready. It wouldn't matter what the cost of the bottle, it's the message that it portrays.

However, if it had been agreed beforehand with the host that you would be doing so, then why not!


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Old 21st Sep 2008, 22:31
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Oh dear, One nil to the Rivetess, and we're leaving soon.
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Old 21st Sep 2008, 22:33
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The breathing effect on a bottle of wine via the aperture at the neck of the bottle is negligible. Pouring it into a glass or a decanter exposes a far greater surface area of wine to allow breathing. Opening it first will allow you to tell if it is "corked" which is not a bad thing, but it will not be breathing via the neck.

Lots of theories abound as to whether breathing actually achieves anything, but none of them are any more conclusive than any of the opinions on the American Elections thread...
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Old 21st Sep 2008, 22:36
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I don't know anything at all about wine but it's why you are taking it with you that's the important thing here? Is it for a BYO evening ... barbecue or something? If the wine is for your own consumption only, then I think that's fine but if it's a "courtesy gift" you shouldn't open it.
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Old 21st Sep 2008, 23:25
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Actually there is a new train of thought going around the upper levels of wine experts, of which I am not one, that it is no longer necessary to allow wine to breath.

Then again I have taken wine to homes (not of good friends) and the home owners did not have a wine opener. (It is Oklahoma after all. )

So, my answer is, not to open the wine first.

Unless, you decant the wine into a nice decanter that you wish to give to the hostess as a gift and present the empty wine bottle with the decanter. However, that could get a bit expensive and your friends may get tired of all those decanters laying all over their homes.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 00:05
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The significance of arriving with an opened bottle of wine is that you are insisting that your bottle of wine should be consumed in preference to whatever your host had planned to provide. This could be implied to mean that you think that your judgement (or quality) is superior to theirs.
Only if you had a prior agreement that you would provide the wine (and, in my opinion, based on knowledge of the menu or if you had a 'special' source) is such action in order IMO . . .

WRT opening the bottle beforehand, this should only be done (in addition to the above) in order to ensure that the supplied bottle wasn't 'corked' or otherwise out of sorts.

Safest is to leave the bottle unopened. If the host decides to use your bottle, insist on tasting it (or at least 'nosing' it) yourself before it is served to others (and be prepared to reject it).
Don't 'taste' your host's wine - unless you are an acknowledged expert AND you have been invited to do so - or you are really good friends and the relationship will stand you telling them that their (choice of) wine is duff.

Some groups hold dinner parties where each participant brings a course or an agreed component. The above protocol doesn't apply to such arrangements . . .

Our local village shop when we lived in Somerset sold wine, cider, sherry and whisky 'from the barrel' and you had to provide your own container, so, of course, if we sourced wine therefrom it was already 'opened', but then Somerset is different (as ani fule kno).
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 00:14
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Loose Rivets, your title had me going in another direction. Thought it was about wine and women breathing!

But have to agree with the folks here. Not in good form to bring open wine. Assumes that you plan on having it to drink when host may have other plans.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 00:44
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Oh, sorry LR just noticed the second question.

Secondly, toting wine to your host's house is a bit naf in the first place,
Unless the house belongs to extremely close friends we always take wine to dinner parties (and expect the same in return). With these friends we just ask what they would like us to bring for a dinner party, sometimes it is wine, sometimes they request for us to bring a side dish, usually appetizers as I am not half bad in the kitchen. Quite often I end up helping the hostess as a Sous-chef.

(Yes, I do a lot more than fry bloody turkeys. )

(sue-chef, is that spelled right? ) Never mind this now.

Last edited by con-pilot; 22nd Sep 2008 at 01:09. Reason: Cause I'm stupid about spelling. Thank you Overdrive.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 00:56
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In Australia it is very normal to take your own grog to a party/BBQ etc. even to a dinner party.

'Room Temperature', I am told, is about 12 to 15 degrees C. Dates back to the baronial hall, wine from the cellar would be about 5C so it was brought to the grand hall to rise to room temperature which, with a large fire at each end, would still only be about 15C. In the Middle and Far east we used to keep our reds in the fridge until they were needed and bring them out just in time to warm up a bit, a red at 23C to 33C not a good idea!
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 01:03
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"Sous chef"
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 01:07
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Ah ha, thank you Overdrive.

I'll go fix that.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 01:39
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Ah ha, thank you Overdrive.

You're welcome. Watch out for some of my cock-ups in the near future.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 01:42
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Styles of wine and the purpose of decanting

As with fly-fishing and table-tennis, among other things, winemaking allows various philosophies about methods and style. I know this from eighteen years of grape-growing and winemaking practice, with some fair part of it in a commercial (and therefore throughly controlled, up-scaled and closely regulated) winery context.

The problem a winemaker faces is that he/she usually does not get to directly know or determine when the wine will be consumed. If the wine is made from very inexpensive grapes that cost, say, $200 per ton, then likely it will be designed for early consumption - meaning within a year or three after bottling. Reds in this context may age for a year or two before bottling, but quick opening after. Whites in this range are often bottled and sold for consumption within a few months of sitting in the field. Such wines are lively and often quite good with a meal, but they likely will not stay happy if kept on a shelf or even in a cellar for more than a year or two. They do not have "complexity", such as only comes from wine fluids sitting quietly in very stable temperatures for months and years forming long-chain polymers with favourable organoleptic qualities.

A wine made from much finer grapes (talking terroir here) such as Napa or St Emillon, may well cost $2500-$3000 a ton fresh-picked & at the loading dock. Those grapes will typically produce a much smaller net output of finished wine per ton than the cheap fruit. The rational winemaking choice for premium grapes is to use them in making very fine wines. The grapes themselves account for much of the distinction, but care and more labour-intensive methods in processing account for quality differences as well.

A wine made for highest quality may actually COST $15 or $20 on the day it is bottled -- and then it may be left to age for 10 or 20 years. Is good to have a printing press for money if in this part of the wine biz.

Now comes an answer relevant to your question: All wine changes continuously with age. The five or six thousand different organic chemical compounds present in a normal bottle of wine are endlessly swing-dancing with one-another and in the process are making new variations on themselves. For some period of time a wine improves with age, then is stable, and then begins a gradual or rapid decline in quality (from our human pov). A winemaker can do things with the chemistry of each individual wine to cause the overall organoleptic quality to reach a peak earlier or later in history. When aiming to produce a Premium (Red, as most are) wine, the winemaker still does not know how long it will sit in the bottle before consumption... but he does know that the consumer (paying $30 to $500 per bottle) will be greatly displeased if he tastes it and thinks it has gone bad. One way to address this quandary is to just take a guess at, say, 8-years aging plus two before use. Another way to hedge the bet and produce a wine that might last a hundred years is to produce a wine that is somewhat unbalanced chemically in a way that retards deterioration from age, but which will spring forward to near perfection with a bit of appropriate handling at the time of uncorking.

From this line of thinking come wines that are made to be deliberately a bit starved of oxygen during final production and bottling. (The technical term is 'reduced' ) Oxygen is the primary cause of wine spoilage when wines are open to the air, but in the case of deliberately-made reduced wines, a bit of oxygen added and some stored gasses subtracted are needed to bring the nectar of the gods up to tip-top perfection in flavour and feel before serving -- otherwise the wine will be flatter and less bodied than one might desire.

Thus we have the principle of decanting, which allows the long sleeping garnet fluid to awaken and stretch a bit before plunging down some grateful gullet. A declasse but somewhat equivalent method when you've forgotten to decant a wine with time for it to breathe is to remove cork, put thumb over bottle, and shake it a bit so it goes frothy at the top... but is best to not let anyone see you doing this.

Sooooo.. decorking a wine before presenting it creates ambiguity as to where in the timeline the wine may be... it also raises questions about the wine's heritage and recent adventures. With close friends that might fly, but for anyone else, put (or leave) a cork in it.

Whites never benefit from decanting, in my experience.

One way to tell a group of winemakers is that they may arrive with wines that do not have regular corks, but just the short easy-to-remove tasting corks - and also no labels on the bottles.... yet they will be able to tell you the identity and history of each different one of their own.... from a quick sip.

Last edited by arcniz; 22nd Sep 2008 at 03:28.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 03:32
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Thanks for that, really interesting.

I have consumed some fine wines, sadly they were brought to the restaurant every week by a pal who we thought was very rich. It turned out he wasn't but by then had spent 175,000 quid on the stuff. And that was 15 years ago.

My goodness, what an experience. We helped him get rid of some of it...well, all of it, cos some was sold back to a dealer to sort out his finances but, sell or drink, it was difficult to keep up with the rate that some of it spoiled at. But we did try.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 05:21
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LR...guess you need to remember that behind every successful man, stands a woman behind him, helping him along. Should've listened to your Mrs., my friend. She wants to make you (both) look good.

It's never too late...
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 06:58
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So youse (sic) Poms have (at last) adopted the civilised colonial habit of taking a bottle of plonk along to a dinner party (or any party)? (For info: There are an awful lot of your countrymen over 'ere in the Sandpit who are clinging to 'the old ways' and turning up to such functions sans vin - and anything else.)

Way back when, I had a boss (in Ozmate) who would quite openly read the label on the (halfway good) bottle you'd bring along when invited "to dine" with him and his missus (so he could assess your 'personal qualities' for his annual assessment of you). He'd then say: "Ohh, this is too good to be drunk tonight," and promply disappear it, to be added to his cellar, meanwhile dragging out a 'Chateau Cardboard' for the visitors.

I can also recall an Italian visitor to Ozmate back in the 70's who, seeing the 'bring your own booze' deal at Australian parties for the first time, said: "You Australians, you're incredible. Even when you're too poor to be able to throw a party, you still do."

There's a man who's recently been the subject of a long running thread on the Dunnuna page who, when he came back from a posting to the UK in one of his previous lives, brought back an English bride. The poor girl was not au fait with colonial customs, for when she was invited to her first Ozmate party by one her (poor as church mice) neighbours, (as we all were as 'junior officas'), she was asked by the hostess to 'bring a plate', (which in Austraylain, for those who don't know, means: bring a plate of food of some description). Much to the amusement of all the drunks at the party (ahhh, those wonderful pre-RBT days) the poor girl turned up with a clean as a whistle dinner plate under her arm.

Never did ask whether she discussed the matter with hubby beforehand.

Back to the subject of the thread: I have to say I'd find it most unusual to have a guest turn up with an opened bottle. We normally don't sit down to eat the moment the guests arrive, so if the wine needs to breathe, I'll open it and put it on the table while I serve my own wine (or whatever) in the meantime.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 09:38
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One would never take a bottle which might be good enough to need decanting as if it was that good it might upstage the host's selection.

And there is always the risk that some boorish fecker would take a fancy to it and drink half of it before it got passed around. Had that happen on Sat, put a semi decent bottle on barbeque table and before I knew it somebody had necked three glasses of the stuff. Just stood there and drank it, then wandered off.

So would take a bottle of the same stuff that I drink any evening and tell them so, hoping they would do the same on another occasion.
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 14:01
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There is no problem with taking a bottle of wine to a dinner party or function. It should not be too cheap, nor too expensive. It should certainly NOT be opened.

However, do not expect that bottle of wine to be consumed at the said dinner party. The host/hostess has taken a great deal of trouble to work out a menu and has, hopefully, taken as much trouble to select appropriate wines to go with that meal. You are not aware of the menu and the wine that you have chosen to bring might well clash horribly with the food on the night. (The only exception to this would be if the host ran out of wine and one was forced to drink what had been brought - but then again, one wouldn't be visiting such a cheapskate again in a hurry would one?)

Here in Oz they seem to expect you to drink the stuff that they brought and get in a huff if one whisks it away to your stash. Oz is a wonderful country and I wouldn't wish to be anywhere else but they don't half have some God Awful customs
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Old 22nd Sep 2008, 14:20
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Christ, you lot go to some fancy dinner parties.
If anyone is fortunate enough to be invited 'round my gaff for their tea, then a crate of german beer will guarantee a return ticket.
Suffice to say that when the take away is delivered, the bill will be split down the middle, 60/40 in my favour, as the wife will be doing the washing up and I can't have people taking the piss, can I?

And I suggest the beer is unopened as well.
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