This week in The New Yorker there is a book review of Nathan Myhrvold’s massive, expensive Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, five volumes, and $625 to purchase. At the end of his review, the reviewer wisely directs the reader toward two practical tips (even though the most important one is in parenthesis) one of which concerns wine. To quote:
They also claim to have a way of improving wine by “hyperdecanting” it via sixty seconds in a blender – the idea being that it will benefit from they oxygenation and out-gassing effects.”
Tonight at the Barn, I persuaded the residents to give this a try on our collection of extremely cheap wines leftover from parties, unknown guests, and poorly informed purchases by the residents. Before we dug into the spaghetti, it might be a good idea to aerate the wine fully to improve the flavor of questionable vintages.
Pouring a bottle of wine into the blender seems to debase it. You think of all the mythology of wine: the lovingly tended vineyard, pictures of the grapes shrouded in dew, the sacred winemaker making judicious decisions, the myth of terroir, and that superior winemaker palette that would definitely put yours to shame, the grandees of wine judging competitions worldwide, and the rich folks who want to sip the final product in an elegantly restrained manner in the exclusive restaurants.
But me, I take the damned thing, dump it from the bottle and whirl it around in the blender. Aren’t I destroying the bouquet? Defiling the winemaker’s art?
I admit, at first I was a little alarmed by the frothy head that this produced in the wine in the blender. That quickly subsided though.
To test the method, before the hyperdecanting, I poured little shot glasses of the vintage for us to compare with the post-blender product. After surging around between the blades, the wine was significantly better than it was before.
And most likely, part of the attraction was the fact that we did something that seemed so wrong in the sacred culture of the wine world.
Sacred or not, this method on a strong wine, what John Lancaster in The New Yorker called a “Schwarzeneggian young red” significantly improved its balance and palettability.