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Note On When To Drink A Big Red Wine

Ernest and Julio Gallo made a lot of bad wine in the 70s and 80s but they had the best advice regarding wine in this century…”Never drink a wine before its time.” Brunello di Montalcino, just like Barolo or Taurasi, usually are ready to drink about 7-11 years old and need time to breathe. Amarone is a big red that can be drunk young, around 4-5 years, or older around 8-10 years but becomes very bold when older so you need a big roast or something with a lot of layers of taste with older Amarones.

I have found so many people in my life that don’t like red wine simply because they open it and drink it right away. They have simply been drinking the impurities (unless the bottle was stored improperly or was “corked”) and they never let the noble bottles of red get their legs and smooth out. This can take hours and sometimes even days for very old bottles that are made to drink after 15-25 years.

If you are going out to dinner to a valid restaurant, such as my suggestions in Lifestyles, and they have a valid wine list with valid servers (which can be 2 separate issues) call ahead and talk to the wine expert at the restaurant and pay for the bottle up front to decant out and truly be ready for you at the table. If you order a 5+ year old bottle then order it immediately so it can be decanted properly. Then start with a Prosecco or lighter white when you first arrive to freshen the palate and buy some time until the red has reached “its time.” The nose is best up front to smell it early and just taste a touch to get the feel for the “virginity” of the wine and periodically smell and lightly taste it and see how it changes. When the wine loses the acidic back-end to the taste and it smooths out it will be ready and will then be beyond puberty. If it needs more time then start with a lighter red like a Grenache (Chatennouf du Pape from France or Cannonau from Saregna, Italy), Mulderbosch (South Africa) or a Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany, Italy) as you scale up to the big red. Of course you should be eating something and taking your time if drinking 3 glasses of wine. The pleasure is both olfactive and gustatory when drinking wine and really interesting how it changes over time when breathing out. Life is not about tasks but of tastes. But our task is to never drink a wine before its time. Thanks for that at least Ernesto and Giulio. Joking aside, the Gallo of Sonoma brand actually is putting out some valid bottles. Learning through the generations I guess.