Crazy, Lazy, Wine-silly Days Of Summer

Summer is almost here, and I’m feeling a bit crazy!

Not crazy mean, but crazy silly. I don’t know if it is that glass of Pol Roger Extra Cuvee Reserve (aka “White Label”) that I was just drinking, but these silly notions keep popping into my head and I am reminded of some of the silliness that I have seen with wine.

Have you ever seen anyone decant Champagne?


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Plenty of overripe flavors on the palate without getting sweet or too candied. This Rose is a great 'porch-pounder'

No, I am not kidding. In fact, it was at a luncheon I was invited to at one of Veuve Clicquot’s exquisite houses in the city of Reims. The lunch was absolutely wonderful, capped by 1998 La Grande Dame with a lovely chicken and fresh morel sauce. Dessert was a fresh strawberry gateau served with the Non-Vintage Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec. The servers, who wore white gloves, brought the bottles of Champagne to present to our table. Then, with much drama and grand presentation, proceeded to decant the Champagne. I thought it was one of the oddest things I’ve seen. They were purposefully eliminating the effervescence from the wine – the same wine they had just spent almost two years to make it sparkle, and all the bubbles went back into the atmosphere. Our host announced to us that they wanted something closer to still wine for the dessert, but I personally thought that the Demi-Sec would have been just fine with the bubbles.

I am sure you have heard of the “Mollydooker Shake” by now. This is the process that Sparky Marquis, owner and winemaker of Mollydooker Wines, perfected for all of us to enjoy his Mollydooker wines to the fullest. All of his wines are bottled under Stelvin closure (aka screw cap). And as the wines are bottled under nitrogen gas so that the wine does not prematurely oxidize, there can be some trapped gas inside the wine that should not be there when we drink it. So, to release it, Sparky recommends opening the bottle, pouring out a couple thimblefuls into a glass, resealing the bottle with the screw cap, then shaking the bottle as if you are standing behind a bar making a Martini for 007 – “shaken, not stirred.” It is certainly an eye-catching and provocative service technique that has a purpose.

Now, this has got to put a smile on your face. I read a story online by Jessica Yadegaran, who writes that “noted chef and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold released Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab; $140; 456 pages) … In it, Myhrvold declares that the best way to decant even a prized or aged wine is to whip it with an immersion blender for 30 to 60 seconds.”

This is called “hyper-decanting.” Now, at first it would seem crazy to think that you would put any wine worth keeping into a blender, but the science is sound. By hyperdecanting something, you effectively are aerating the wine in a short period of time. It just seems weird, right? Does anyone have a bottle of 1996 Chateau Lafite that they want to donate to science to see if it really works?

I have a dozen stories or more. Did you hear the one about the wine through a coffee filter?

I’m sure you have seen some silliness in the wine biz, too. Feel free to email them to me. They are always good for a smile.

Recommendations: 2012 Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rose ($20) Whiffs of red and citrus fruit and an edge of water-melon. It has plenty of overtly ripe flavors on the palate but without getting sweet or too candied. This is a great “porch-pounder.” 2011 Potel-Aviron Cote de Brouilly ($22) Ripe cherries and smooth as velvet are the things I think of when I taste this wine. This is from old vines, and it shows it with a particular depth and intensity. Highly recommended.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
Twitter: @Pinotpusher