15 April 2007
I very rarely have the problem of left-over-wine. But I am frequently asked by others what to do with wine left in the bottle. My usual answer is to stick the cork back in the bottle and keep the bottle upright in the fridge door. It’ll be OK for a day or so, and for some red wines maybe longer.
However I took the opportunity this trip to the Cape to experiment with freezing wine. I was ordering a bottle of wine at lunch, consuming a glass or so, and taking the bottle with me. But by dinner time I frequently had another ‘must open’ bottle.
So into the freezer compartment of the fridge went some lunchtime bottles. A couple of weeks later I moved them to the fridge door in the morning to thaw during the day, and I opened them in the evening to taste. (photo left - the bottle is upright, the wine is frozen)
First was a white wine, Simonsig 2006 Verdelho*. When I opened its spiffy screwcap the wine went cloudy. I left it for a while to clear. The photo (below right) clearly shows the white powdery deposits of tartaric crystals, brought out of solution by the cold.
Many mass market wineries practise ‘cold stabilisation’ where they chill wines to precipitate these crystals so that they will not appear after sale as many casual wine drinkers mistake them for glass fragments and return the wine to the shop. However this chilling also removes something of the flavour, and is frequently not done on better wines.
And so it proved here. The wine was quite acceptable and drinkable, but it wasn’t quite as crisp, racy and exciting as I remembered from when I first opened it.
The Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 was also most drinkable, and showed little change, maybe just slightly dulled.
But freezing hadn’t destroyed the wines. Now you might argue that these were quite gutsy wines, especially the Pinotage with lots of upfront flavours. Would a delicate wine, such as a mature Mouton-Rothschild survive such treatment? All I can say is that I am willing to do the experiment if someone will supply the wine.
So if you have opened wines you want to keep – try freezing them.
*Simonsig Verdelho 2006 is an Estate wine especially produced for the SA Pick'n'Pay supermarket chain. Verdelho is a Portuguese variety used to make Madeira and Vinho Verde, and has been recently been achieving success in Australia. Simonsig's Verdelho vines were planted by the late Frans Malan and I guess the juice from these grapes usually go into Simonsig's blends, and well done to the Pick'n'Pay winebuyer for winkling it out. I'd dearly love to know what other rare varieties are planted in Simonsig's vineyards ....