10 Questions About Wine Answered by Our Winemaker
In this article, we’re answering your questions about wine that you’ve asked us on El Coto de Rioja’s social media pages. Our winemaker, Susana Rodríguez, is here to guide us through the most common questions asked by both long-time wine enthusiasts and absolute novices.
Questions from El Coto de Rioja's followers
- How much wine should be served in a glass? Can wine be served in a drinking glass?
When it comes to enjoying a glass of wine, it’s both the outside and inside that count. So, knowing how much wine to serve and where to serve it is an essential part of the process.
The glass should never be filled more than one-third of the way up. A normal 750 ml bottle should be enough for five or six glasses. Before serving the glass of wine, remember to hold the bottle by the bottom so that the heat from your hand doesn’t warm the wine, and never rest the bottle on the glass!
While it’s most common to use a wine glass that has been specifically designed to highlight the qualities of wine, it can be served in a drinking glass. Wine glasses are designed to highlight the aromas, taste and visual characteristics of the wine.
If you don’t have a wine glass on hand, you can use a drinking glass for informal occasions. However, it’s important to note that the type of glass can affect your perception of the wine. We recommend using a transparent and unadorned glass to better appreciate the colour and clarity of the wine.
2. How long can a bottle of wine last after you open it?
Once a bottle of wine has been opened, it begins to oxidise, affecting its taste, aroma and quality. How long this process takes will depend on several factors, such as the type of wine, the quality, the way it was stored and the sealing method you use after opening it. Red wines tend to last longer than white wines.
In general, to make sure the wine will have the same flavour and characteristics, you should drink it within 24 or 48 hours.
3. Do all wines improve over time?
Not all wines improve over time. For the most part, young wines should be drunk within a year, as their taste and aroma may diminish over time. However, some high-quality, barrel-aged wines with sufficient structure and acidity can improve over time and develop more complex and elegant flavours.
Wines that can improve over time are known as wines for laying down. These are usually red wines with more tannins, acidity and alcohol, allowing them to age slowly and develop flavours and aromas as they oxidise.
4. Now that the weather is getting better… what wine pairings do you recommend for meals with friends/family?
Wine pairing is the art of choosing a specific wine to serve with a particular dish or meal, with the aim of enhancing the flavours and aromas of the wine and the food.
With spring now upon us, the weather is warmer and the days are longer. And with that, terraces, gardens and barbecues are in full swing at the weekend. At El Coto de Rioja we’ve prepared some wine suggestions to pair with dishes you can enjoy in the sun. Don’t miss out!
- Meat paella and 875m Tempranillo de Altura. An intense, fresh wine that goes perfectly with the rice, chicken and vegetables in paella.
- Seafood paella and El Coto Blanco. Fish dishes are usually best paired with white wine, so if you want to enhance the flavour of your paella with prawns, squid and whatever else takes your fancy, this soft and pleasant wine is the right pairing choice.
- Barbecue and El Coto Selección Viñedos Rosado. If you’re looking for an explosion of flavour and to impress your barbecue guests, serve some pork ribs and barbecue sauce with our rosé wine.
- Beef and steak with Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva. This is our number one recommendation to accompany mature meat with a strong flavour. Enjoy this wine with notes of red fruit and nuts.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy bite to pick at with friends, you can always serve a cheese board. Who doesn’t like cheese? Here’s an Easy guide for pairing wine and cheese that no one will be able to resist.
Not sure which wine to buy? Take a look at our online store and discover our selection of wines.
5. What does it mean to say that a wine is “corked”?
When we talk about a wine “being corked,” we mean that the bottle of wine has been contaminated with a compound called trichloroanisole (TCA). This gives the wine an unpleasant taste and smell—like mould or damp.
This chemical, which can taint the natural cork of wine bottles, can also come from other materials in the cellar or from the environment. When cork is contaminated with TCA, it can pass on the unpleasant taste and smell to the wine, even in small amounts.
It’s important to note that not all wines with cork become contaminated or to the same extent, and in some cases this taste and smell can be very subtle. But, in general, “corked wines” are less-than-pleasant, and you should avoid drinking them.
Do you have more questions about wine?
6. Good documentaries or books for wine beginners.
There’s a wide selection of documentaries and books that will give you a good introduction to the world of wine. Here are some of our suggestions:
- SOMM and SOOM: Into the Bottle. These documentaries follow four candidate sommeliers as they prepare for their final exam. The second one delves deeper into the history of wine and wine production.
- Red Obsession. This documentary explores the passion and obsession of wine collectors in China and how they are changing the global wine market.
- A Year in Burgundy. This documentary chronicles life at seven family wineries in the Burgundy region of France over a full season.
- Manos. Several chapters narrated in first person explaining the various processes the El Coto de Rioja artisans undertake to achieve the highest-quality wines.
- Wine for Dummies. Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan have written this handy introduction to the world of wine. It covers all the wine basics, from how to taste wine to how to buy and store it.
- El mundo del vino (in Spanish). This classic book decodes everything about the history of wine, grape varieties, producing regions and a whole lot more.
For bookworms, we recommend these 7 essential books about wine. These books are great for all audiences who want to continue exploring the world of wine. The perfect gift (or self-gift).
Want to learn some wine basics that will help you when buying and drinking wine? El Coto de Rioja has prepared a wine guide for beginners—download it for free!
You can also check out our Wineclasses, which will help you take your first steps in the world of wine with easy, fun and well-rounded tutorials. Mini express classes with helpful tips and tricks for you to experience wine like never before.
7. Why do they say wine tastes like wood and other things?
A wine’s taste can be influenced by many factors, such as the type of grape, the region of origin, the vinification process and the ageing. One of these factors may also be the use of oak barrels during the ageing process. When wine is aged in oak barrels, it takes on the aromatic compounds and flavours of the wood.
Wine tasting is famous for having rather peculiar terminology. The descriptors used by experts, sommeliers and critics can be quite ludicrous. At some point, you’ve probably heard of a wine tasting of cat’s pee or wet soil. And how about fleshy, velvety or robust wines? Discover what these terms mean and more strange wine descriptions:
8. What is a horizontal or vertical tasting?
A horizontal tasting includes wines from different producers from the same vintage year, with similar characteristics, such as the same grape variety or the same production region. This allows you to compare the wines and assess their differences and similarities.
Vertical wine tasting involves trying different vintages of the same wine, produced in different years. In this kind of tasting, you can appreciate how the wine evolves over time and evaluate its ageing capacity and the characteristics of the different harvests.
9. What exactly is a signature wine?
Signature wine is a type of wine that is made in small quantities, using unconventional vinification techniques and processes and a curated selection of grapes. Signature wine producers aim to create unique and high-quality wines that reflect their personal style and production philosophy.
These wines are usually produced by small or artisan wineries, which are focused more on the quality and uniqueness of their products. The term is mainly used in Latin American wine-producing countries, especially in Argentina and Chile. But it has also become popular in other European producing countries, such as Spain and France.
10. Do you need to study, train and gain experience for this profession? Or does it take a certain “gift”; a natural innate sensitivity to capture the aromas, flavours, sensations, colours…? Is a winemaker made or born?
Oenology is the science dedicated to the study of winemaking. While some may have a natural inclination towards the profession, it can be said that in general, you become an oenologist through training and experience.
To be a good winemaker, you need to have knowledge in areas such as chemistry, microbiology, biology and agriculture. You will also need an in-depth understanding of winemaking processes and technology.
However, winemakers may have a natural talent for tasting and assessing the qualities of wines, which can be an important factor in their career. But, in the end, becoming a successful winemaker requires a combination of natural skills, education and practical experience.