Grapevine Archive for serving wine
141 years ago, The Wine Society was founded at the Royal Albert Hall after the last of the International Exhibitions of the Victorian era (the legacy of the Great Exhibition of 1851). The Society has decided to go back to its roots in a wonderfully innovative and tasty way.
Work has already started on creating air-conditioned cellars beneath the Hall where bottles of fine wine will be stored (just like during the International Exhibition of 1874). The plan is that all will be ready by the summer of 2016, in time for the BBC Proms season.
Many members had expressed their concern that when attending Prom concerts, as well as other events at this prestigious venue, they were unable to take bottles of their favourite Society wines to their seats. This will very soon be a thing of the past. At the push of a button located in the member’s arm-rest, via the wonders of Coravin® technology linked to a network of capillary tubes, wine can be delivered directly from unopened bottles in the cellars through a tap situated right next to the button into a waiting glass. Those in the audience who are not members can sign up on the night and enjoy this facility too.
The wines available will include sparkling wine from England’s Nyetimber (to toast Land of Hope and Glory), merlot from Israel’s Clos de Gat (to accompany Jerusalem) and the Languedoc’s La Clape (to enjoy during long rounds of applause). It’s a nifty idea that we’re sure all cultured Prom-attending members will appreciate. If he were still around, we’re sure Sir Henry would …
Of the many questions our Member Services team get asked, at this time of year, how to decant is one of the more popular. There are two reasons to decant – to remove the deposit (or sediment) from older bottles and vintage port and to aerate the wine. We publish tips on decanting on our Serving Wine page, along with answers to other frequently asked questions, but we thought that we would share the tips below from fellow member David Richards who feels that the whole process is rather over complicated by some. His approach is sound and one that we sometimes adopt (tights are often used instead of filters), what’s critical, of course, is that everything is clean!
Having just bought a couple of cases of The Society’s Côtes-du-Rhône containing tartrate crystals and with the festive season fast approaching, I thought I’d share a tip that never fails. When decanting a wine, there is no need for silver funnels, candles, torches, white backgrounds or whatever other mystical practices you may have read about. All you need is a kitchen-grade plastic funnel and a coffee filter paper of suitable proportions, plus a decanter, of course. No need to stand the bottle upright overnight either.
Pop the funnel into the neck of the decanter, fold the bottom and side of the filter paper over and place it into the funnel, then simply remove the cork and pour the whole thing into the funnel. You may need to do this in two or three stages to allow the wine to run through. The resultant liquid will be crystal clear, I promise you.
If you are at all nervous when you see the sediment pouring out of the bottle, you can transfer the funnel to a tumbler of sufficient height and allow the final dregs to drain into that, but do not fear, it will be just as clear as the rest. This trick works equally well on a cheap Côtes-du-Rhône or an £80 bottle of port. I have done both. And if you get caught by surprise by a bottle that delivers sediment into your glass when you weren’t expecting it, simply set up the equipment and pour everything through the filter, including what was in the glass. It works a treat and your meal (and drinking pleasure) will barely be interrupted. Simples! Go on, give it a try.