In this age of communal Attention Deficit Disorder Syndrome a whole cosmetic industry has grown up around wine – not to make the fermented grape appear younger, but to make it taste older, writes DWWA judge Tony Aspler, who isn't having any of it.
It’s an industry that wants to botox away a wine’s bodily flaws with oak treatment or other dubious implants.
As a wine writer I get deluged with gadgets and gizmos that purport to age wine faster and smooth out its tannins.
My kitchen drawer is full of magnets the size of hockey pucks, funnels that flow like watering cans, plastic spirals like miniature water slides and pouring implements that spew wine in dizzying circles. All of them are engineered to introduce air that will unlock the wine’s bouquet and flavour. And these are just the low-tech contraptions.
If you want to get fancy you can spend the price of a Second Growth claret on a sort of electronic push-up bra that uses electro-magnetic and acoustic waves to heighten a wine’s pH, thereby reducing its acidity.
A mild application takes 15 minutes; for a stubborn wine that needs punishing, an hour. You could even torture the wine in front of your dinner party guests.
Or you could invest $129 in the Sonic Decanter that will give your adolescent wine a frontal lobotomy. This piece of equipment, according to online publication Gizmag, uses ‘high frequency sound waves to break down preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide, transform the molecular and chemical structure of wine, and accelerate the aging process’.
There is also a product called the Oak Bottle. And it’s just that, a bottle made of oak. You fill it with water for 24 hours, empty the water, then pour in an inexpensive wine and leave it for 48 to 72 hours to ‘impart an authentic oak flavour’.
My pal and fellow wine scribe, Oz Clarke, said of it, ‘As I take my first sniff, I immediately get a delicious aroma of vanilla. My spirits rise, but after the first sip they crash. It’s wine — with a hint of furniture polish.’
Call me an oenological Luddite but I don’t want to force my wine to grow up, so I don’t use any of these appliances.
If I want my wine to breathe, the tumbling effect of pouring will do the trick and if you feel that a young wine needs a lot of aeration, double decant. That is, pour your wine into a decanter or large jug, rinse out the bottle to remove any sediment and, using a clean funnel, pour the wine back into the bottle.
Let wine enjoy its youth and watch over it with patience. Repeat this mantra after me: ‘Wine improves with age and I will improve with wine.’
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Tony Aspler is a Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) judge and was regional chair for Canada at DWWA 2015.