A few things you should knnow about the world of wine

Algunas cosas que hay que saber sobre el mundo del vino

¿Is albariño a kind of wine or a denomination of origin?

Albariño is a white grape variety that possesses the ideal characteristics for making first-class wines. Native to Galicia, the variety has earned world-wide recognition for the Rías Baixas denomination of origin.

¿Should white wine be drunk young?

This is one of the popular misconceptions that still remain in circulation, even nowadays. The life of a wine is not determined by the kind of grape from which it is made, but by the way in which the grape has been grown and the techniques used to transform the freshly pressed grape juice into wine. The usual thing is that a white wine that has not been aged in the winery will be perfectly drinkable for several years, and is often more expressive if it has been kept for a year after bottling.

¿What does ‘left on the lees’ mean?

The lees are the deposits of dead or residual yeast that, once the fermentation process is over, gradually decompose and add compounds to the wine, the principal one being mannoproteins. The latter give structure to the wine, as well as improving its stability and prolonging its life, enabling it to remain in perfect conditions for various years (the time will depend on how long the lees stayed in contact with the wine).

¿Should white wine be served very cold?

If we serve wine at an excessively low temperature (6-7º C), it will fail to express its full potential, since the majority of its compounds will be unable to vaporise. A similar situation occurs if it is served too warm (16º C), when the wine will express a certain kind of compounds, such as alcohol, that could lead us to reject it. The ideal serving temperature is 10-12º C.

¿Is albariño the only wine made in Rías Baixas?

Single-variety albariño is the main wine to be produced in this denomination of origin, but there are others, listed below:

  • Albariño: A single-variety wine made with 100% Albariño grapes.
  • Condado do Tea: Produced in the sub-district of the same name from Albariño and Treixadura grapes (minimum 70%).
  • Rosal: Produced in the sub-district of the same name from Albariño and Loureira grapes (minimum 70%).
  • Salnés: Produced in the sub-district of the same name from a minimum of 70% Albariño grapes.
  • Ribeira do Ulla: Produced in the sub-district of the same name from a minimum of 70% Albariño grapes.
  • Rías Baixas: A wine produced from the white grape varieties authorised in the D.O., using at least 70% of the preferred varieties.
  • Rías Baixas barrica: Made in the same way as the above, but aged in oak casks for a minimum of 3 months.
  • Tintos:  A red wine made from the red grape varieties recognised by the Control Board.
  • Rías Baixas Espumoso:A sparkling wine made from authorised varieties grape varieties, produced in any of the sub-districts, and meeting the analytical requirements laid down in the Control Board Regulations, the Spanish and European regulations concerning quality sparkling wines, and the stipulations in the Quality Manual.

Y las variedades de uva con las que se puede elaborar bajo en reconocimiento de la denominación de origen son:

  • hite grape varieties: Preferred: Albariño, Loureira (Marqués), Treixadura and Caíño blanco. Authorised: Torrontés y Godello.
  • Red grape varieties: Preferentes: Caíño tinto, Espadeiro, Sousón y Loureira tinta. Authorised:  Brancellao y Mencía.

¿Do white wines age?

Although it is more common to age red wines, some whites are also cask-aged. It is a complex operation, because the slightest excess contribution from the wood will attenuate and even conceal the wine’s primary aromas (those specifically related with the grape variety).

¡Give me red any time!

It’s true that there’s no accounting for taste, but experience teaches us that the more kinds of wine we try, the more we are going to expand the range of what we like. There’s a moment for every kind of wine, and what really matters is knowing how to pair what we eat with what we drink. If we serve a highly structured and aromatic wine with a light meal, then our perception of sensations will probably diminish, since the potency of the wine will mask the gentler and more delicate aromas and flavours of the food.

¿What’s the difference between a sommelier and an oenologist?

A sommelier, or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specialises in all aspects of wine service. Sommeliers usually work in restaurants, but can also be found in specialist wine shops. An oenologist is a person who has studied and practices oenology (the science and art of wine-making), and is responsible for turning good grapes into great wine.

¿Should all wines be decanted?

There are usually two reasons for using a decanter:

  • To separate sediment and cork particles (if there are any) from the wine
  • To aerate the wine (if needed)

There is no mathematical rule for calculating the length of time a wine should be aerated for. Although all wines (in good condition) need to be exposed to oxygen, the time needed can range from a few minutes to several hours.

It’s a good idea to open the bottle and pour a small amount of the wine into a glass, where we can use our sense of smell to decide whether it needs decanting or not. If the wine is closed (i.e. with little or no bouquet) it will need decanting and aerating, but if it expresses its full potential within a few minutes of removing the cork, then there`s no point in exposing it to the atmosphere any further.

¿How should I store my wine at home?

In a nutshell, the ideal atmospheric conditions for storing wine are a temperature of no lower than 9º C and no higher than 16º C (and not varying more than 2º C), and 75-80% relative humidity. The bottle should be kept horizontal, so that the wine remains in permanent contact with the cork, in a well-ventilated place free from extraneous smells.

It isn’t always easy to ensure these conditions at home, but we should try to get as close as possible, for example by avoiding strong smells and sudden changes of temperature in the kitchen, keeping the bottles away from radiators, or keeping them out of direct sunlight, amongst other such solutions.

end faq