1) Buy the right wines.
It looks like you’re doing well here. (But if you are in any doubt: try these!)
2) Store your bottles well.
Find somewhere with a stable temperature, preferably cool. The stability is as important as the temperature itself. Wines with corks should be on their sides, and all wines will prefer to be in the dark.
3) Store long enough, but not too long.
Our white and rosé wines can be drunk young, and will be good for a few years, say 3 to 5. The merlot cabernet and the reserve white will both be good for over 10 years, and both will evolve slightly over that time. The reserve red is probably best between 5 and 10 years, but should be great still up to 15 years (or longer). The dessert wine could outlast all of us.
4) Get the temperature right.
The simple rule for white wines is that they should be served cold, but not too cold. On a hot day there’s nothing better than a cold glass of Sauvignon or rosé, but be careful not to serve too cold as you might dumb down the lovely flavours. In practice this could mean getting the wine out of the fridge before you want to serve it, and this is especially important with the Reserve white.
The reds on the other hand are often served too warm, so may benefit from a bit of time in the fridge and that’s especially the case with the Merlot Cabernet. A little cooler than normal room temperature is a good starting point.
If you’re looking for greater precision on this topic, then further research will show that different temperatures are advised for different grape varieties. But as we’re doing GCSE not degree level here, we will move on.
5) Open your wine at the right time.
When’s the right time? It depends on the wine … you’ll see that’s a reliable answer for just about all the points we have mentioned!
For the rosé and the white wines, opening shortly before you serve the wine is fine, and there is no great advantage in letting your wine breathe for hours beforehand.
For the younger red wines, then it’s often worth encouraging a certain amount of aeration. The aeration will soften the tannins and allow some of the flavours to open up. Opening the bottle alone will not do a great deal; the neck of the bottle is so narrow that there’s not a great deal of aeration.
Swirling the wine in your glass is effective, easy and quick, but be careful you don’t launch droplets onto your neighbour’s lap … never a cool move. More reliable might be double decanting about an hour before you drink it. Just pour the contents of your bottle into a jug, and then pour it back into the bottle, clearing away any residual sentiment as you do so.
One word of caution here. If you keep your fine wines for decades, then there’s less need to aerate. Very old wines should be treated as if they are very fragile and not exposed to the world for very long. It’s those robust young, full-bodied, reds that can be poured vigorously from bottle to decanter. Like humans, old wines should be handled gently and with respect.
6) Use the right wine glass.
In most cases, we would favour stemmed, large glasses, made from thin glass. The ideal shape having a bowl that tapers at the top to capture all the lovely ripe aromas. Treat yourself to a glass that would hold most of the bottle … and resist the temptation to fill it to the top!
For a well-written and fuller commentary on choosing wine glasses, try this link: https://guides.wsj.com/wine/wine-tips-and-tricks/how-to-select-a-good-wine-glass/
7) Drink it before it loses flavour after opening.
You love the wine but for once you can’t finish the bottle. The whites and rosés should be fine in the fridge for three to four days and the reds even longer especially if also stored in the fridge. There are also lots of gadgets that will help to keep the wine fresh for even longer, from the widely available Vacuvin to the Corovin.
We also quite like the rather lovely ETO Wine Decanter and if price is not an issue then there is always the Enomatic machine.
8) Know what you’re drinking.
For many wine enthusiasts, knowing a little about the wine they’re drinking is likely to enhance the experience. The taste might not improve by understanding the challenges for the wine maker of that particular vintage, but the appreciation and enjoyment might.
9) Drink with the right foods.
Going local is a great place to start, so the red wines of Grand Mayne tend to be great with duck, and the whites with goats cheese, for example.
But more generally, the rules are that delicate flavours go with delicate wines, fruity food flavours need fruity wines and richer, high fat and more powerful flavours are complemented by bigger wines, like the Grand Mayne reserves.
Simple food also usually means simple flavours in your wine.
Then there’s the influence of salt which is best balanced with a little acidity in the wine.
And finally, we should mention “unami”, the fifth taste, relating to the savoury flavours found in broths and cooked meats. These flavours are best unwrapped by matching, for example, a good Cabernet Sauvignon (or perhaps the Grand Mayne Reserve red) for an extra layer of deliciousness in both the food and the wine.
10) Drink according to the lunar calendar.
We’ve all experienced drinking wines that taste fabulous on certain days and then, disappointingly, less wonderful on other days. Could it be the weather, your mood, the gin and tonic you had beforehand or even the people you’re with?
All of these factors may have some influence. But there’s also the phases of the moon! This is not something that any of us at Grand Mayne do much in practice, but there are some people who swear by it.
The biodynamic cycle suggests that fruit days are the best days to be drinking wine. Interestingly, the next fruit days are a week from now, and coincide with the opening of pubs and restaurants in England. Good timing, perhaps.