Know Your Reds 2! 29/05/2017 in Expert House, Tasting

It’s time to discover two more red grape varieties …I do hope you did get a chance to enjoy the aromas of the previous reds as featured?

And even if you did not, give it time and it surely will become a part of your senses. The key is to keep tasting and trying out different regions and vintages.

Malbec  (pronounced Maal – beck)


You have tried a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah, hopefully by now. And maybe you would not want to invest too much in tasting a wine. So there is another good option to try, a Malbec. This is a red grape variety grown mostly in Argentina today, but gaining popularity worldwide.

Malbec, a thick skinned grape, was grown earlier in France’s Cohors , an area close to Bordeaux and used more as a blending grape in Bordeaux’s top 5 varieties. But due to its poor resistance to pests, it could never gain the honour of being a top grape variety and instead sought a home in Argentina.

It has medium tannin and medium acidity.It is aged. For a young Malbec , the aging might just be for 6 months, whereas if it is aged a bit more, it gives a blueberry aroma.

Ever wondered which wine to pair with blue cheese? Well, Malbec it is!

Malbec is often found in France, USA, South Africa, Chile, Australia and New Zealand as well.


Deep Inky, purple- red, nearly opaque

Tasting notes:

Very fruit forward, raspberries, cherries, Pomegranate , blue berry, plums

Aromas: Cocoa , Milk Chocolate, leather, Coffee, gravel, tobacco


Sangiovese (pronounced Zaan-Jo -Vay-se)


This grape variety is found in only Italy and has very less plantings. I want to write about this grape variety because it is produces one of my favourite wines… Brunello di Montacino which was first produced in the 14th century. It is made of 100% Sangiovese grape and was one of the rarest wines during World War 2.

Sangiovese  can produce a very fruity wine or a dark tannin intense wine too…

It is highly acidic and has high tannin levels. It is aged for 4-7 years in oak barrels for normal wines and nearly 10-18 years for a Brunello de Montalcino.


If you come across wines such as  Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Prugnolo Gentile, Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello di Montalcino, Nielluccio, Rosso di Montepulciano, Morellino, Rosso di Montalcino, Montefalco Rosso, Chianti, Morellino di Scansano, they all are made of Sangiovese grape variety.


Dark Red

Tasting Notes:

Tart Cherry, Red Plum, Fig , Strawberry

Roasted peppers, clay, smoke, tobacco,oregano , thyme , dried roses


Wine does Age too…

download (1)

Now, let’s talk a bit about ageing of wine… Many times we hear about the number of years a wine has aged, but is it even necessary for a wine to age and how does this happen?

Dans les caves de Milestii Mici, en Moldavie.

The Mileștii Mici wine cellar is found in the commune of Mileștii Mici, just 18km from Chişinău, the country’s capital, and has been internationally celebrated having been recognised as “The Largest Quality Wine Collection in the World” by Guinness World Records.

When one talks of ageing or cellaring a wine, it can even mean storing a bottle at home, in a cool and dark place. As the wine sits in the bottle, it ages. There are some wines that should age and there are some that should be drunk immediately upon buying. i.e within 5 years. When ageing takes place, it does change the flavour and the texture of the wine.

Ageing a wine has been largely romanticised.

But did you know that only 1% of the wine produced worldwide should be aged?

So typically a wine is released, once it has been 2 years at a vineyard and then should be drunk within 6 months of purchase. We will talk about the red grape varieties and their shelf lives.


Cabernet Sauvignon, a Brunello Di Montelcino, some Sangiovese, a red Baordeux , can be drunk in 10-20 years.

Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Old world Merlot, Malbec, Chianti, can be drunk in .5-10 years

Pinot Noir, New World Merlot and Zinfandel, can be drunk in 3-5 years.

Wines such as Gamay or Beaujolais should be drink within 1 year.


How do we come to know which wine …when ?

So when you buy a bottle of wine, around the price point of USD$30, it is meant to be drunk now! (i.e. anytime within 5 years of purchase) Only the premium wines , can be stored a bit longer …but don’t wait too long.

So what exactly do we look at, in order to find out  whether a  wine would age well or not

When wine ages for say 12 years, it will not taste as delicious in the first few years of its life. The traits are:

High Acidity: Wines tend to lose their acids as they age and flatten out, so a wine with higher acidity has a higher chance of survival as they age.

Tannin Structure: As we know tannin comes from the grape skin and pips. However, they also come from the wooden oak barrels and this is what makes it a balanced wine.

Low Alcohol level: Wines that are non-fortified, with alcohol levels below 13.5% abv (alcohol by volume) are best suited to ageing. This works for still wines.

Residual Sugar: This is the leftover sweetness in a wine which comes from the grapes during harvest time.

So, the maximum number of years a wine can be aged is champagne that can be aged for 60 years and above those only fortified wines like port or sherry can be aged.

Fine red wine can be aged to 20 years whereas fine whites can go up to 10 years.

Medium whites & reds can be aged from 2-4 years

Cheap whites & reds can be aged from 12-16 months. (Under $30)

Why are Temperature and Humidity Important?

download (2)

The most important aspects of storing a wine is controlling its temperature and humidity and to understand that it is living. It changes with time. The most favourable temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Centigrade. At this temperature the wine enjoys a long evolution. At warmer temperatures, they mature faster and enjoy a shorter life but this doesn’t mean you store them at higher temperatures, it can be detrimental to the wine.

Humidity levels can hover from 70-80% and not more. You wouldn’t want a very humid area to store your wines in since that can ruin them.

If you want to cellar a wine for longer periods then it should be stored at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Typically wines should be at a horizontal position when you store them. So that the wine come in contact with the cork and keep it moist & well sealed. Thus, quality of the cork seal plays a very important role in the quality of the wine.

The space between the wine and the cork is called Ullage. This should be at a minimal, so that there is less unwanted oxidation. It is said a cork will allow 1 mg of oxygen through it in a year.


Nowadays, bottles have natural or synthetic corks or screw caps. The synthetic corks or screw caps provide consistent oxidation required for the wine and are a good. They however have to overcome a few hurdles such as being environmentally friendly. But for long term ageing, the natural cork is best since it has a long term track record as of now. We would just have to wait and watch!


Light and Vibrations

It is important to store the wine in a dark place since light can influence the chemical makeup of the wine. You will notice most red wines are bottled in dark coloured bottles. If you want to store for a long time, keep them in wooden boxes, and in a cellar.

Similarly, vibrations are not recommended for the wine. They must be stored in very stable conditions.

You can store your bottles in racks or in a wine cooler, remember to utilise the knowledge of light, vibrations and position for your wines.


A great part of enjoying your wines comes with the right kind of cellaring…the wait is long but your patience is definitely is rewarded.

So, it all comes down to how long you would want to wait before uncorking your bottle of wine!