Some Interesting facts to ponder over (or argue about!)
SHOULD I BE AGEING MY WINE?
No. Almost all wine is made to be enjoyed straight away. The general rule is that if the wine producer is happy to bottle and sell it, it is ready to enjoy now. Ageing will change a wine's flavours slightly, but it won't usually make it better.
HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP WINE OPEN FOR?
When you open a bottle of wine, you are exposing it to oxygen, and oxygen is the enemy of wine. White wine and rosé will keep overnight in the fridge, and red wine can last two to three days outside the fridge, but leave it any longer and the wine will start to become tired.
Sparkling wine should be enjoyed straight after opening; it quickly loses its bubbles, which carry flavour. The old adage that popping a teaspoon in the neck of the bottle will stop it from going flat is not true.
DO I NEED TO DECANT?
No. Traditionally, one of the main purposes of decanting was simply to separate the wine from any sediment at the bottom of the bottle. You don't get sediment in most modern wine (though you do find it in vintage or crusted ports, and older fine red wines).
Decanting also exposes wine to oxygen; some people claim this boosts the flavour, but generally, it helps does not help your wine taste better. After all, oxidising wine is something we usually avoid! A very heavy, tannic red wine is the exception, as a little oxygen can soften the tannins slightly. And, of course, the theatre of decanting wine can feel very social and special.
WHICH GRAPES PRODUCE RELIABLY GOOD WINES?
There is an old wine-trade belief that the six 'noble grape' varieties (three whites and three reds; see below) make the best wines. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but it's a great general guideline
Chardonnay Riesling Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Noir Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon
First winemaking efforts were conducted in ancient Armenia and Georgia, around 8 thousand years ago
People sensitive to histamines can often get headaches after drinking wine
Wine corks were introduced in mid-17th century. Before that, Italian and French winemakers used oil soaked rags stuffed in the neck of bottles.
The phrase "drinking to one's health" was introduced in ancient Greece, when party hosts drank the wine to prove that it's not poisoned.
Just so you know what you are paying for, here are this years alcohol duty figures
Taxation - UK Excise Duty
Rates per bottle from 1 February 2019 (excluding VAT @ 20%)
(Figures are approximate due to rounding up - effective from 01.02.2019)
Wine £2.23 per 75cl
Exceeding 5.5% but not exceeding 8.5% abv £2.16 per 75cl
Exceeding 8.5% but not exceeding 15% abv £2.86 per 75cl
Fortified Wines £2.98 per 75cl
Spirits (37.5% abv) £7.54 per 70cl
Spirit based RTDs (5.5%) £0.42 per 27.5cl
Cider/Perry (up to 7.5%) £0.23 per pint
Beer (4%) £0.43 per pint