Per Warfvinge on wine, villages, and terroirs of Alsace

Give it air

Some, ignorant people, believe that it is unnecessary to aerate white wine. The old school says that Bordeaux wines need air while a Burgundy does not.

I have talked to very many producers in Alsace, and now we are talking about at least 50. While they give all kinds of diverging opinions on almost all topics, they all agree on two things; white wines are way to often drunk to cold and they need air to develop their potential.

In fact, most growers look sad when they open a fresh bottle, because regardless of how well-tempered it is, they tend to say "you should come back tomorrow to get the real taste of this wine”.

The most importanty reason to aerate a wine is to get rid of the carbon dioxide. While a producer is enough used to the carbon dioxide to neglect it, it blocks the palates of amateurs. Most carbon dioxide leaves the wine at the final filtering but a considerable amount may still be left.

I suggest three methods to prepare an Alsace wine for drinking:

  1. Use a decanter such as the "up-side-down-mushroom”, decant the wine and leave it for 4 hours.
  2. Empty the bottle in a bowl, whisk it violently (you can hear the carbon dioxide leaving the wine) and pour it back into the bottle. Leave it for 4 hours.
  3. Open the bottle a few days in advance, take a glass, cover it up and leave it in the fridge. A Grand Cru, a VT or SGN will keep and improve for 1-2 weeks.

Corked enough

You must accept that some 3% of the wines with a natural cork is buchée.

In Alsace, many growers are gradually turning to other materials. These are synthetic corks, screw caps and even beer bottle caps! Prestige growers such as Albert Mann advocate the use of screw caps, while beer bottle caps are used by Pierre Frick and possibly a few others.

Be aware of the fact that a screw cap is an attempt of the producer to save money, but to guarantee a first class product.

Choose the right glass

It is now recognized as a fact that the shape of the glass is important for both the aroma and the taste of the wine. The success of Riedel and other progressive glassware producers is not only a hype, but based on evidence close to science.

The taste of the wine is affected by how the wine flow into the mouth. A narrow glass for acidic wines, such as Riesling, tastes best of the glass is narrow. Otherwise, the "sensors” for acid on the sides of the tongue come into play to much. On the other hand, a buttery Chardonnay benefits from a glass with a wide opening.