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January 3, 2018
 
Some Thoughts About Decanting...
In my humble opinion, and contrary to what the geeks at Consumer Reports once called a wine myth, letting any tannic red wine breath will improve it.  Decanting is the single most important thing you can do to improve any red wine. Opening a young Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah or blended red 20 to 40 minutes before dinner, pouring it into a decanter and allowing it to slightly oxidize, will soften it up. This can be accomplished using almost any large glass vessel. Actually, while it would not add a lot to the ambiance of your dinner table, a mason jar would probably work. The act of moving the wine from the bottle to another container with a large surface area allows exposure to oxygen to soften the harshness of the tannins and smooths a wine out.

If you don't believe me, try this test. Next time you are going to use two or more bottles of the same red wine, decant one bottle about an hour before dinner and open the second bottle just before serving. Now, try a comparison tasting, and you will understand what oxygen does to wine. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a decanter. Just be sure to go with the widest base you can find, because the more surface area, the more effective the decanter. Trust me, Riedel glasses may have an effect of the way you taste wine, but Riedel's $200 decanters offer no advantage over their $40 or $50 competitors. 

Wine Aerators like the Vinturi or Rabbit pretty much accomplish the same thing if you're in a hurry.  However, after a blind comparison we did a few years ago between a decanter and an aerator, we decided that wine that was aerated seemed to suffer some loss of aroma.  

Decanting has its best effects on young wines.  Many wines tend to throw sediment, especially the unfiltered and unfined wines that have become so popular in the last 20 years. This sediment is pretty unpleasant stuff and it is best left behind when the wine is decanted. If you're a planner, it's not a bad idea pull that bottle you have in mind for Saturday night on Friday and stand it upright to let the sediment settle. While, letting it settle helps, the most important thing when decanting a wine with sediment is to pour slowly and carefully and stop the minute you see a ribbon of sludge headed down the stem. Don't be afraid to leave a half inch in the bottom of the bottle.

Actually, while it conjures up the image of the elderly British Bordeaux collector, slowly decanting a way too old wine over a flickering candle, using a flashlight or candle to light the bottle really does help. Also, with the older wines, never let them set for a long period after decanting.  In fact, in many cases air can be the enemy with older bottles.  Time should have already done its work and many times a 10 year or older wine is at its best as soon as it is opened.  
 

The Recipe Exchange
 
We were looking for a different way to cook cod (could also use halibut or any firm white fish fillet) and came up with this.  You could skip the sauce, but it really adds to the flavor. Besides without it, you would just have battered fish. How boring.

Crusted Cod
Tom Landshof
 
 
Ingredients
(serves 4)
Cod (4 nice fillets)
1/4 Cup flour
1 tsp. seasoned salt (or just substitute plain salt)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4  tsp celery salt
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
3/4 Cup fine dry bread crumbs or panko
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Cup chicken stock
1/4 Cup white wine
1/2  tsp. dried dill or 1 tsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup sour cream
2 Tbs. lemon juice

Preparation
1. Dry cod fillets on paper towel.
2. Set out 3 shallow bowls. One with a mixture of the flour, seasoned salt, celery salt and pepper. The second with the egg and milk whisked together. The third with a mixture of the bread crumbs (or panko).
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Dredge the fillets first in the seasoned flour, then dip the fillets in the egg mixture, and then into the bread crumbs.
4. Working in batches, sauté the fillets for 2 minutes on each side or until browned nicely. Remove the fillets from the skillet and cover with foil or place in a warming drawer
5. Add the chicken stock into the skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Add wine and butter. Simmer to reduce by a third. In a small bowl mix the dill and salt into the sour cream. Stir the sour cream mixture into the chicken stock. Heat and stir until mixture thickens (do not let boil). Stir in lemon juice. 

Serve the fillets with the sauce, and lemon slices if you like.  

Note:
  If the sauce seems a little thin, stir in some of the egg mixture you dipped the fillets in and stir. Vary the seasonings as to what appeals to you.
 

Wine Guy Reviews
This is a real crowd-pleaser that would go great with a grilled ribeye....
Taken Red Wine 2014 Napa Valley, California $36
What the Wine Critics Tho
ught: James Suckling 93 Points
A full-bodied red with polished and chewy tannins and chocolate and currant character. Shows focus and tension. On it. 60% Cabernet, 40% Merlot. Better in 2020.

What We Thought: Silky-smooth and well-rounded, this Cabernet-Merlot blend is designed to be user-friendly.  There's plenty of ripe blackberry fruit, a little oaky vanilla and chocolate with tannins so soft that you almost don't notice them.
 
A blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet and 10% Merlot, this elegant red demands food....
Conde San Cristobal Tempranillo 2011 Ribera del Duero, Spain $20
We Bought a Bunch $16.99

What the Wine Critics Thought: Vinous 90 Points
Vivid ruby. A smoke- and spice-accented bouquet evokes candied cherry, cassis, violet and vanilla. Sweet and penetrating, offering lively cherry and dark berry flavors that put on weight with air. The smoke and floral notes come back on the finish, which features dusty tannins and a hint of mocha. —J.R.

What We Thought: Aromas and flavors of black cherry and black raspberry along with notes of licorice and herbs combine in this medium-bodied Ribera blend and are supported by supple tannins and lively acids that demand food. 
 

Pick Of The Week
 
A Big, Easy-Drinking Grenache!
James Suckling 91 Points
$9.99!

This ripe, silky-smooth Grenache is about as user friendly as Spanish wine comes.  Perfect for a party or right at home with pizza or burgers, this is an extremely versatile wine...
Honoro Vera Garnacha 2016 Calatayud, Spain $13
We Bought a Bunch $9.99

What The Critics Thought: James Suckling 91 Points
Bright, brambly appeal on the nose with redcurrant and raspberry fruits. The palate has a plush, fleshy and saturated feel to it, with succulent tannins. Drink now.

What We Thought: This big, brambly, easy-drinking, Grenache is very robust and filled with ripe blackberry fruit, a little peppery spice and only the supplest of tannins.  Food is optional, this stands alone very well...
 
To order just use "reply to sender" to return this form or just give me a call. And, be sure to let us know at which store you would prefer to pick it up.

As always, the Wine Guy Guarantee applies.  If you buy a case of wine and don't like it, just return the other bottles for an exchange or refund. 

The case discount is 10%. Case discounts do not apply to items with .99 sale price endings. However, sale wines do combine with other wines to make non sale wines eligible for case discounts.



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Issue 931 Vol. 19 No.
1
January 3, 2018
 
The Wine Guy @
The Grapevine Cottage

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