Saturday, July 20, 2013
There are many factors that influence how a glass of wine tastes and among the least understood is weather. It may seem weird but meteorological conditions can definitely change the performance of your wine. Let me explain. I was recently discussing this subject with Aldo Sohm, Chef Sommelier at Le Bernardin, who had commented on my misfortune to pick a super hot, humid day for lunch at this great restaurant. He knew, as well as I, that because of the excessive humidity, the wines I was drinking would not show their best that day, no matter how great a job the staff did at presenting the wines at their proper aeration and temperature (and they are fantastic at this). He also went on to relate a story that he had recently hosted a wine event in Aspen in which he had brought several wines with him from New York but they had all tasted differently when he was in Colorado. We discussed what could be at the root of this; altitude, air pressure, humidity, even travel can all have make a difference. I've seen this as well, over the years bringing some stellar bottles to share with my parents for the Christmas holidays, only not to have them taste as good as they tasted at home. It's really deflating to be all excited about showing a wine to someone when it doesn't live up to your expectations.
In addition to the weather, you can even take into consideration the biodynamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar that designates certain days as a fruit day, a root day, a flower day, or a leaf day. Think I'm crazy? We all know that the gravity of the moon affects the ocean tides, so doesn't it go to reason that the moon phase could affect all the liquid on Earth, including the water in our own bodies? The moon could affect all kinds of things here that we can't really feel or are aware of. If I am crazy bringing this up, then at least I'm not alone, see "Fruit Day vs. Root Day".
Following along these lines, the best day to drink wine is on a fruit day. Recently I took an informal poll of some of my friends who sell wine for a living and asked them if they noticed any effect that the weather or the biodynamic calendar had on the performance of their wines. These folks are immersed in wine daily and know the wines they represent intimately. I've even had wine reps call me and say, "I have something in my bag that I'd really like you to taste today because it's showing so well." So I wanted to know what they would have to say. To my surprise there was a consensus that fruit days are indeed good, but that other factors involved such as low barometric pressure, rain and high humidity have the most negative effects, muting the expression of the wine. In my experience, I'd agree with this.
What are the good days? High pressure, dry air is a great time for wines to be expressive and show their stuff. If you combine that with a fruit day then it's the best case scenario.
What does it all mean and how should it affect your wine drinking? My feeling is not to go too crazy, a root day will not stop me from enjoying a glass of wine. Sometimes, however, I might be planning to open a special bottle, maybe something really fine or a bottle I've aged for a long time and in that case that I do take the weather into consideration. For me, I'll hold off if it's a rainy, socked in low pressure day and open another wine. Of course I think this has to be within reason, you can't control the weather on holidays or a special occasion so sometimes you just have to go with it.
If you have had any similar experiences post a comment or let me know. Something to think about.