Posted August 24, 2016

Five frequently asked questions about wine

On Saturday 17 September, The Atrium at Fed Square will host the 2016 VIC100 Festival of Wine, which is your chance to taste Victoria’s top 100 wines of the year.

The event will feature wines from across Victoria’s many famous regions and is a celebration of our state’s outstanding winemakers and rich wine culture. It’s also an opportunity for the everyday wine lover to learn more about wine in a fun and relaxed environment.

Ahead of the event, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about wine – as judged by Google – which some of us are potentially too afraid to ask out loud.

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Once a bottle of wine is opened, how long does it last?
In the unlikely event that a bottle is not finished, the best thing to do is replace the seal (be it cork or screw cap) tightly, and store the opened bottle in the fridge until you wish to finish it. This will preserve the wine for two to three days in fairly good condition. If left open and at room temperature, a wine will likely be beyond its best in less than a day. Naturally, each bottle will vary. For example, some unoaked white wines will maintain freshness for longer than a Pinot Noir, which is known for “falling over” quite quickly. Most Pinot Noir wines will be past their best 24 hours after opening, even if the wine is stored in optimal conditions.

How is it best to store wine?
Optimal conditions for cellaring wine is in a well ventilated, consistent environment with a temperature that remains as close to 14 degrees Celsius year round. Therefore keeping wine in your kitchen cupboard above the oven or in a rack beside your fireplace, is far from ideal!

What does the term “vintage” mean?
Vintage is the term used for describing the year of harvest of the grapes used to make the wine. A wine can be vintage or non-vintage. Typically, a non-vintage wine simply means that it’s not made from grapes all from one vintage, but instead two or more vintages. Most commonly, table wines in Australia are made from one vintage. Vintage can also be the term used to describe the period of time each year in which harvest takes place. In Australia vintage typically takes place in the summer months ranging from late January in the warmer climates, through to March-April in the cooler climates such as Victoria.

What does it mean when a wine is corked? Can you still drink it?
Quite broadly, “corked” is a term referring to a wine fault characterized by a set of undesirable smells or tastes found in a bottle of wine, especially spoilage that can only be detected after bottling, aging and opening. Some people call a wine corked just because they don’t like it, or they think it has a fault, but technically a wine is corked when it has cork taint or TCA (Trichloroanisole) present.

A corked wine will typically have its best qualities tarnished, but can still be consumed. Though, with high levels of TCA (or some people’s particularly high sensitivity to it), the wine is often unpleasant to drink.

You see a lot about food and wine matching these days, is it true that wine is best paired with certain foods?
While there are some incredibly harmonious food and wine pairings to be had (think Champagne and oysters, Pinot Noir and duck…) it really is a personal choice. If you fancy spending $100 on a magnificent bottle of Champagne to drink with your favourite pizza, then go right ahead and enjoy it. Wine is all about enjoyment so pairing your favourite wine style with your favourite food might bring you as much pleasure as an “ideal” pairing.

Interested in attending the VIC100 Festival of Wine? Tickets are $48, which covers tasting of the top 100 wines, a tasting glass from Riedel Glassware and a 2016 VIC100 Festival of Wine printed guide – your handbook to Victoria’s top 100 wines of the year. For further event details visit VIC100.com.au. In the meantime, try out your new wine tasting skills at one of the many bars at Fed Square!