Thursday, November 3, 2011

Effect of bottle size on wine maturity

Some friends of mine recently held a tasting experiment: They opened three bottles of fairly-high quality Oregon 1999 Pinot Noir. The bottle sizes were 375ml, 750ml, and 1.5L (magnum).

They confirmed that the smaller bottles aged the wine quicker, as a result of the greater ratio of: (a) surface area exposed to air (which is actually quite a large surface area, when the bottle lies down) to (b) liquid volume. The magnum has the lowest ratio of the three, so it ages the slowest.

Also, in the case of this excellent vintage, none of the wines showed as well as they did in past years, further proving that most Oregon Pinots cannot age, on average, more than maybe 8 years or so. If you have only the vintage date to go by, I advise that you should drink the wines by 8 years old, and preferably from 3-7 years old. (Factors varying that advice include the winery, the vintage characteristics, and the temperature of the wines' storage.)

I personally elicited a comment, in 2001, by a Burgundy maker near Dijon, who said that Oregon Pinots might be excellent wines, "but they do not age as well as ours do." Speaking generally, I cannot dispute that statement.

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