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Blog: On Wine getting better with Age

Posted: Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:10

Blog: On Wine getting better with Age

May 22 : During the recent promo of their new film, Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, the heroine Deepika Padukone talked about her past amorous relationship with her co-star Ranbir Kapoor and compared her relationship with wine since it gets better with age. But perhaps she is not aware that only FINE wines get better with age and even as these wines are maturing in the bottle, they remain closed for a few years before opening up again.

Padukone vouched for their friendship, and compared it with wine. "Our friendship only gets better with age. We have been friends for very long time," said the model-turned-actress. She shared a romantic relationship with the star for a couple of years before it went sour or at least turned cool about 3 years ago. They are back on the Bollywood gossip circuit with speculations about the revival of that romance.

This is not the first time that someone has made the statement, which is incorrect and at best incomplete. But when a film star or a celebrity makes a statement like this to a newspaper, magazine or on TV, it sticks in peoples’ minds and the myth is perpetuated.

The fact is that 95% of the wines produced in the world do not get better with age and are meant to be consumed within 2-3 years of production. Most Indian wines, if not all, fall in this category. This holds true more for white wines since the red wines have a presence of tannins due to the skin and the oak in which they are processed and these help wine change its character in the bottle and last longer. High quality red wines can age for 20 years or more and some of the top Bordeaux and Burgundy wines have outlived the age of any romantic couple - Bordeaux 1945 from the First Growths (5 of them) considered to be the finest vintage of the last century, is still drinkable - there are some older wines that are still evolving in the bottle. But the key word is FINE wine.

Many people make the mistake when bringing a few wine bottles from overseas or when gifted a bottle or two, of storing them for years presuming they are getting better when in fact they are gradually dying out. It is important to know whether it is a fine wine - most good quality Barolos, Barbaresco, Amarone, California Cabernets and of course several Bordeaux wines are wines that get better with age.

The aging of fine wine is not necessarily restricted to reds only either. Fine Burgundy white wines are known to age for decades. I remember a producer in Austria who has in his cellar a Sylvaner 1947 that is still alive. Fine Mosel Rieslings are known to age for decades and we are not even talking about sweet wines that can have even longer longevity - I tasted a 1909 Sauternes a few years ago and it was still singing! I know of some Tuscan producers who make white wines lasting for a couple of decades. Recently, I was in Ancona where we had a vertical tasting of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, the signature white grape of Marche. The 2000 vintage was very much alive and getting better (of course, like human romantic relationships, one cannot be sure how long it will keep up).

Another interesting factor that Deepika Padukone might be interested to know is that the fine wines that get better with age go through a process of closing for a few years in the early stages. For instance, a Bordeaux fine wine from a respectable chateau may drink fairly nicely during the first few years but will then inexplicably close for a few years during which it may be too astringent (like the recent Padukone-Kapoor relationship perhaps?!). After a few years, it opens up and becomes drinkable, still getting better. I know of a well-known Mosel producer who says that his Rieslings are best drinkable a few years after the harvest for a couple of years. Then they ‘close’ and become tight and undrinkable for a few years before they start aging again for 10-15 or 20 years and even more.

It would be interesting to see if the Padukone-Kapoor relationship is like a FINE Bordeaux wine that would last for decades after staying closed for the last few years or like a fine Mosel Riesling that will be good for a couple of decades at least…or perhaps it may turn out to be ordinary white wine that was juicy and vivacious for the 2-3 years that it lasted and now has actually died out or turned to vinegar and they will find out after the movie promos are over.

But they could think of celebrating the success of the movie releasing on May 31 by opening a bottle of a 1982 Latour, Lafitte or Mouton Rothschild - one of the best vintages during the last few decades and perhaps close to their chronological age.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Marche, Deepika Padukone



Raju Mahtani Says:

Hi Subhash: Brilliant piece. More educational pieces needed in this fledgling market, at least to rescue the helpless pretenders from embarrassing themselves! Saluti, Cavalier Raju

Posted @ May 25, 2013 10:57


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