Saturday, April 10, 2010

Top 10 Questions about Wine: 7&8

We’re down to our last four questions in our “Top 10” series and today we discuss both the ethereal and the practical. Without further adieu, let’s get to the topics at hand:

#7. Who is the god of wine?

There have actually been various gods and goddesses of wine throughout ancient history.

Osiris, the “Lord of Wine,” was celebrated by Ancient Egyptians to ensure that the Nile Delta vineyards would be bountiful each year. Ancient Egyptians also celebrated Hathor, the wine goddess, who was said to flood the river every year to replenish the vineyards. The festival in her honor was aptly named “The Drunkenness of Hathor.” Offerings of wine and beer were bestowed on the boozy ancient goddess.

No doubt the most acknowledged god of wine is Dionysus, known to the Romans as Bacchus. Legend has it that Dionysus brought wine to ancient Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. The “God of Wine” was said to have used grapes and wine to enchant enemies and tempt women. Not to be outdone by Hathor, festivals dedicated to Dionysus are rumored to have been debaucherous affairs including excessive drinking, singing, dancing, and plenty of bawdy behavior.

As you may have guessed, Bacchus is responsible for the term ‘Bacchanalia’, a drunken, sometimes orgiastic, fête originally celebrated and dedicated to the “God of Wine” in Rome. These wild parties were eventually banned in Rome. Suffice to say, the gods and goddesses of wine surely had a good time of it whether in Ancient Egypt, Greece, or Rome!

#8. How long does wine last once opened?

On to more practical issues, this is a question that is often asked of us in the wine shop. Our first response is just to finish the wine when you open it, but, okay, we realize that sometimes you may not be up to the task.

This is a somewhat difficult question to answer because some wines fall apart more quickly than others. Generally, wines with screw caps are easier to keep around for a few days (3 is a good rule of thumb) because you can secure the cap back on the bottle and avoid any air seeping in. Putting the wine in the refrigerator will further preserve the wine, both whites and reds. When you are ready to go back for more, just take the red out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature before drinking.

If the wine is finished with a cork and not a screw cap, you can purchase cork stoppers, however, as cute as they may be, they do little to preserve the wine on their own. So, if you can’t finish the bottle, our best advice is to funnel the wine in to a half bottle. Half bottles (375ml versus 750ml in a full bottle) are available at some wines stores. Purchase a half bottle and enjoy the wine. Once you finish the half bottle, clean it out and keep it to store the leftovers from your unfinished full bottles. The culprit in deteriorating wine is air, so if the bottle is full or close to full, there is less room for air to seep in and oxidize the wine. Once you re-cork the half bottle, put it in the refrigerator for the best results.

There are lots of fancy gadgets out there that claim to preserve wine for longer but our attitude is that they are not worth the price. Enjoy your wine within a few days or it’s time to move on. Cheers!

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