"/>Fine Wine Tasting Products and Accesories , Hints and Tips

Hints and Tips

Great little device

A friend of mine leant me a Clef du Vin. He had raved about what fun he had with it at his last party. I was a bit skeptical, but thought it might be fun to try it out at a party I was having. I had some young fruity Merlot that was recommend to be allowed to mature for about 10 years before drinking. I thought it would be a fun thing to try and would provide a talking point and keep everyone entertained before dinner. The instructions said to allow one second in the wine per one year of aging so I poured a glass for all my guests, and they all did a before and after taste test. There were a fair number of my guests who thought this would be nonsense. Amazingly every one of my guests – and we were a big group of about 40 noticed a significant difference in the wine. That it became much more mellow and fuller and rounder, as though it really had aged and was much improved and more enjoyable. Only one of my guests said he didn't notice a difference, but then he was smoking a cigar and likely couldn't taste much of anything. I think this is an excellent little device; some of the most impressed were very serious wine collectors who thought it would be a useful tool to help make a prediction of what might be a good investment. For me though it was a bit expensive, for the novelty factor alone, it was worth it, it was a great hit at my party and everyone is still talking about it.

Lead and Wine Glasses

 

Modern wine screw caps are highly engineered pieces of packaging technology, developed over many years to do the job that corks seem to do only imperfectly. That job is quite simple: to keep the wine inside the bottle and to seal out the air. For a while, some tried to turn cork's deficient sealing capability into a strength, arguing that a slight amount of air exchange is necessary for aging. However, it is now generally agreed that wine is naturally bottled with enough air dissolved in the liquid to permit it to mellow with age. Even if that were not so, modern screw tops are so precise that the winemaker can adjust the tightness of the seal to allow more or less outside air to enter, without the risk of cork taint.

 

Screw tops

 

Modern wine screw caps are highly engineered pieces of packaging technology, developed over many years to do the job that corks seem to do only imperfectly. That job is quite simple: to keep the wine inside the bottle and to seal out the air. For a while, some tried to turn cork's deficient sealing capability into a strength, arguing that a slight amount of air exchange is necessary for aging. However, it is now generally agreed that wine is naturally bottled with enough air dissolved in the liquid to permit it to mellow with age. Even if that were not so, modern screw tops are so precise that the winemaker can adjust the tightness of the seal to allow more or less outside air to enter, without the risk of cork taint.

 

Clef du Vin Science

"Clef du Vin" TM Science A revolutionary concept from France:

The unique and exceptional Clef du Vin is essentially a measuring instrument that will immediately tell you if your wines are suitable for laying down, and thus revealing their aging potential. In a controlled way, it will gradually modify the organoleptic qualities of the wine (taste, smell, flavours and bouquet).

The Clef du Vin has been carefully calibrated so that one second of contact in a glass of 10 cl. (or a bottle of 75 cl. using the corresponding key) will display the potential lay down time of one year.

Effective on all types of wine (red, rosé, white, dry, mellow, sweet, fortified or sparkling), the Clef du Vin is in fact an informative measuring instrument.

There are considerable advantages for consumers:

  • Only buy wines that will age well or wines you know need to be drunk within the year.For example: At the wine merchant or at a wine fair you taste the wine and then you dip the Clef du Vin for few seconds. If the wine remains pleasant or improves, you can buy with confidence - it will age well. But if the wine deteriorates rapidly (the taste becomes flat, oxidised, metallic...) then it has little or no ageing potential and should be drunk within a year or two...
  • Know how long your wines can lay down for. Reassess your wine cellar.When you open a bottle from one of your cases, carry out the test. Dip the Clef du Vin as explained above.
  • If your wine improves and is at its best after between 4and 8 seconds, then you will prefer it within 4 to 8 years (or you may drink it straight away after 4 to 8 seconds with the Clef du Vin...)There is no absolute rule. You should drink wine the way you like it, when you like it.You can now regularly go through your cellar, "testing" which wine is ready for drinking and which will need more years to mature.Drink a young wine today.
  • You will have the advantage of being able to appreciate a young wine right away that otherwise would have needed 5 to 10 years to mature.The Clef du Vin softens the structure of the wine and speeds up the aromatic development of its flavour. One could say that the wine is "opened up" with the key.Red wines will see their tannins becoming softer, and their elegance being expressed.The acidity of dry white wines will be reduced, revealing the subtle flavours of the fruit.With sweet white wines, expect an explosion of flavours in your mouth!
  • We are talking about a tool which will help you buy your wine, manage your cellar and help you with your wine tasting.

    Attention! : The Clef du Vin does not age the wine!!!! (see the scientific explanation below)

    Attention! : The Clef du Vin does not turn a bad wine into a good one. It isn't magic! A poor quality wine, or one without any ageing potential, will be quickly and completely spoiled by the Clef du Vin (generally 2 seconds of contact is sufficient).

    To recap, Clef du Vin allows you to:

    Fully appreciate a good young wine or even a wine that is much too young, without having to wait, as we tend today to drink wines younger and younger.

    Determine the best possible moment to appreciate a wine.

    Feel reassured when buying your wine, and avoid buying wine with no aging potential, and identifiy wines with high potential, which are not necessarily the most expensive

    Similarly, the advantages for professional people are considerable:

    • The Clef du Vin will provide the oenologist with information about the oxidation-reduction of his/ her wine.
    • Having a better understanding of this complexe process is invaluable when making decisions during the production and maturation processes.
    • The Clef du Vin is an aid to sales on a large scale.
    • The Clef du Vin optimises the selection and purchasing processes.
    • It's ludic approach increases the pleasure of drinking, thus increasing thesales of wines at a restaurant for instance.

    CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY

    The Clef du Vin is an alloy made up of many different metals, which have been prepared and produced using a special technique.

    It is the outcome of scientific study combined with accepted traditions and methods in the wine industry.

    The Clef du Vin was invented over 10 years ago by Laurent Zanon, chemist and oenologist, chemistry and biology teacher, in collaboration with a sommelier, Franck Thomas, Best Craftsman of France, Best Sommelier of France and Europe (year 2000) and French candidate for the next world championships in Greece (which takes place every 4 years).

    As a winemaker, Laurent Zanon needed an instrument to help him decide when is the right moment to do whatever he needs to do during the wine making process.

    "Now I use the key as follows, Mr Zanon says :

    If the wine in the vats is in "reduction" (closed smells of sulphur, marzipan, or even rotten eggs) I fill a 10 cl glass and dip the Clef du Vin in for 2 seconds. If the reduction persists, I need to intervene (rack the wine ...). If not, I can wait."

    We have created a tool, which is user-friendly and accessible to everyone.

    During its life cycle, the wine passes from a phase of reduction (fermentation process in vats or casks) to a phase of oxidation (wine which is too old to be drunk). Between these two phases, the wine will evolve along its curve of oxidation-reduction, going through periods of equilibrium when it can be appreciated at its best (depending also on personal taste).

    What happens when the wine ages in bottle under favourable conditions?

    The wine will be oxidising during its evolution, and some do it faster than others. Moreover this phenomenon is increased after the bottle has been opened. This will considerably change the wine's quality for better or for worse.

    By using the Clef du Vin you will be able to accelerate maturing in order to work out the laying down potential, knowing that one second of contact is equivalent to one year of "ageing" (of oxidation-reduction).

     

    Of course, the Clef du Vin has not invented reduction by oxidation! Mankind have known about this natural process for over 2000 years. But on the other hand, the team of Clef du Vin have mastered how to measure it, gauge it and reproduce it in a controlled and regulated way.

    In order to bring out the ageing potential of a wine, the Clef du Vin gradually modifies amongst other things the balance in oxidation-reduction up to its destruction (taste). Each second of contact in a 10 cl glass (or 75 cl bottle with the corresponding wine key model) will advance the wine one year on its oxidation-reduction curve (life), showing its laying down potential or ageing potential.

    It will show you the pleasure that you will have drinking the wine in 1, 2,...5,...10 years.

    By using the Clef du Vin you will be able to accelerate maturing in order to work out the laying down potential, knowing that one second of contact is equivalent to one year of "ageing" (of oxidation-reduction).

    Of course, the Clef du Vin has not invented reduction by oxidation! Mankind have known about this natural process for over 2000 years. But on the other hand, the team of Clef du Vin have mastered how to measure it, gauge it and reproduce it in a controlled and regulated way.

    In order to bring out the ageing potential of a wine, the Clef du Vin gradually modifies amongst other things the balance in oxidation-reduction up to its destruction (taste). Each second of contact in a 10 cl glass (or 75 cl bottle with the corresponding wine key model) will advance the wine one year on its oxidation-reduction curve (life), showing its laying down potential or ageing potential.

    It will show you the pleasure that you will have drinking the wine in 1, 2,...5,...10 years.

    Oxidation-reduction curve

    Total reduction ---------------- Equilibrium-------------------- Total oxidation

    10cl for 1 second = 1 year

    One second for one year, two seconds for two years...

    The result obtained with the Clef du Vin is irreversible. The successive dips (contacts with the wine) are cumulative (one second plus one second = one dip of two seconds).

    The Clef du Vin is a catalyst that activates and accelerates a natural phenomenon: oxidation.

    But be careful! The Clef du Vin does not age the wine.

    There are many more things happening during the natural ageing of a wine that the Clef du Vin does not claim to reproduce (there are more than 100 components known in wine, which are related to wine aging).

    The Clef du Vin also acts on the aromatic components: the esters, ketones, aldehydes and on the tannins.

    The aromatic components are "protected", "inhibited" by sulphured components (atoms of sulphur "S"), very sensible to oxidation.

    The Clef du Vin acts in a similar way on the aliphatic chains by modifying the simple connections of carbon, sulphur and hydrogen.

    Three years of research went into the creation of the Clef du Vin alloy. Then seven more years were spent validating the right calibration of one second to one year. The inventors started by buying a batch of bottles. Then professional sommeliers met together every year organising blind tastings (duo-trios, triangles...). The objective was to compare the actual results with the Clef du Vin's predictions. More than 95% of the time, the Clef du Vin proved to be correct!!!

    Patents were applied for in 2000.

    The Clef du Vin does not wear out. Everything happens on the molecular level. There is no migration of metal to the wine. The Key simply reorganises certain of the wine's molecules. Nothing is lost, nothing is created, but everything is transformed...

    What does the alloy contain? The answer forms the basis of four international patents.

    USER GUIDE :

    "DIP, COUNT, DRINK!"

    Clef du Vin TM is unique and interesting. It is a scientific means of helping you to optimise the selection, laying down and tasting of your wines.

    Instructions for use:

    The Clef du Vin is dipped repeatedly into a glass of wine.

    In a 10 cl* glass, one second of contact modifies the tannin structure, as well as the organoleptic qualities (taste and aroma), by the equivalent of one year of laying down time in a wine cellar.

    Begin by pouring a glass of wine (10 cl.).

    Taste and memorise.

    Dip the Clef du Vin disk into the glass for one second, taste again and compare.

    Repeat the operation until the wine deteriorates to determine a "drink by" date.

    Attention! This process is very fast. Be aware!

    *For the model for "Bottle", use a bottle of 75cl.

    Which wine to buy? How to select a wine?

    If after several dips (or a continuous dip of a few seconds), the wine remains pleasant or improves, you can buy with confidence, it will age well.

    If the wine deteriorates after one or two seconds of contact, the wine has little or no ageing potential, and should be drunk within a year or two.

    The Clef du Vin reassures you in your selection and purchase of wines.

    When should I drink this wine? How long should I lay it down for?

    If you prefer the wine after dipping Clef du Vin in for 3 seconds, you may lay it down for three years, then you will most probably appreciate the wine at its peak (according to your personal taste, of course).

    There is no absolute rule; everyone should drink wine the way they like it, when they like it, neither too soon, nor too late!

    How to taste and appreciate a young wine?

    With the Clef du Vin you will be able to appreciate the real potential of an immature wine, in a matter of seconds.

    Clef du Vin speeds up the aromatic development of the wine's flavours and softens its structure. You could say that the wine is "opened up" with the key.

    Red wines will see their tannins becoming softer, and their roundness being expressed.

    The acidity of dry white wines will be reduced, revealing the subtle flavours of the fruit.

    With sweet white wines expect an explosion of flavours in your mouth!

    The Clef du Vin allows you to enjoy today the full potential of a wine needing to be laid down, which otherwise would have needed years to mature.

    Care and cleaning: Simply rinse with warm water and dry with a cloth. Do not place Clef du Vin in the dish washer, as this could damage it!

    WINE LIFE CURVE - The Process of Aging

    Point 0 indicates bottling, the birth of the wine.

    This area represents the "bottle sickness" period that all wines go through lasting from 1 to 4 months. This is part of the wine's natural evolution. It causes a regression in the wine's development and time is required for it to improve in the bottle.

    Zone 1 : The young wine opens up and starts to be enjoyable.

    Zone 2 : While evolving, some wines actually go through a stage of closing up again for a short time. Red wines become ordinary. Pleasure in the mouth is diminished by a firm and tannic structure, oak is in a domination phase. White wines become even more ordinary and less pleasant. For some wines, this phase doesn't happen; they immediately reach their peak. This is the case with "Beaujolais Nouveau" for instance. Some wines will even pass through several phases of this kind.

    Zone 3: represents the wine's peak and the phase where it will give most pleasure. This phase may take one year to several years. Zone 4: represents the wine's decline.

    THE INVENTORS OF " Clef du Vin " 

    Franck THOMAS :

    After obtaining his sommelier diploma in 1992 and winning the prize for the "Best Young Sommelier in Provence", he worked in various prestigious restaurants located on the French Riviera, including The Negresco in Nice and the Hotel Juana in Juan Les Pins.

    In 1995 he won the title of "Best Young Sommelier of France" then in 2000 he became "Best Craftsman of France" in the newly created category of sommelier. That same year he took the title of "Best sommelier of France". Later this year, he became "Best Sommelier of Europe".

    Today he works as an international consultant in wine and is the co-owner of different restaurants such as "Le Parcours" at Falicon (Alpes Maritimes), which obtained a Michelin star already on its first year of opening.

    Franck will represent France in the World Championships for the Best Sommelier, which will be held in Greece this autumn 2004. This prestigious competition takes place every four years.

    Lorenzo ZANON :

    After training as an oenologist and chemist, he worked in various well known establishments in Burgundy and particularly at Nuits Saint Georges and Meursault, where he was in charge of the production of Premier Crus andGrands Crus.

    Lorenzo Zanon was a teacher of biology, chemistry, viticulture and oenology.

    As general manager and director of an estate in Meursault, he extended his experience, knowledge and skills related to wine production.

    He is today the Manager (Vines and Wine) of a famous Champagne house.

    Chardonnay serving Temperature

    The 50°F to 60°F range is ideal for substantial white wines, such as most white Burgundy, California and Australia Chardonnay and German Spatlese and Auslese, as well as high quality dessert wines like Sauternes and late-harvest Rieslings. Also light, fruity reds, like Italian Dolcetto and young Chianti, Valpolicella, young Rioja from Spain, and Loire Valley reds like Chinon and Bourgueil.

    Wine aging and the Clef du Vin

    The Clef du Vin lets you identify the precise aging potential of any wine.

    Probably one of the most attention-grabbing wine accessories in the market today! The Clef du Vin essentially cause a chemical reaction in your wine that the inventor claims will emulate the wine aging process. Imagine predicting the peak age of any wine, so you serve it at its smoothest moment of perfection. Not having to taste one bottle per year until you find its perfect drinking moment, but then are dismayed you have only one or two bottles left in your collection! You can also determine which wines won’t age, and why certain wines are “on sale”. Buy one bottle -not a case - of that wine. Or buy several single bottles of “recommended” wines. Take them home, and check them out with this Wine Key. You’ll know which wines are contenders, and which are the pretenders. 

    So how does it work? When this Wine Key is dipped into a glass of wine, a patented metal alloy located on the tip replicates some of the wine’s major aspects of its natural aging process without adding any metal taste. With this tool, you’ll know the ideal moment to enjoy every wine at its peak.

    Well to prove it the myfinewinelife.com product testing teams hosted a small “Perfect Drinking Moment” wine party for a few friends. Each person brought a favorite wine, 3 years old or less with a goal of determining the “Perfect Drinking Moment” for each wine. The conversation was illuminating with lots and lots of lively debate.

    The results – firstly everyone agreed that the Clef du Vin does change the taste of the wine. About 80% of us did say that the tannins of the wine decreased, this could be a good thing or bad, depending on your preference. As we know tannins are required for the aging process, so you can extrapolate this reduction as a measure of what the wine would taste like after a few years of aging. One of our team, the pessimistic one, said that he’s read that you can get the same effect with a penny. So the controversy and volume of our conversation stepped up a notch!

    Can the combination of metals in a penny have the same effect? Here is an interesting fact about pennies: If your penny has a date before 1982 it is made of 95% copper; if the date is ’83 or later, it is made of 95.7% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating. We don’t know what exactly the Clef du Vin material is except for the fact that it is a patented alloy, rumored to consist of stainless steal, gold and copper.

    Well, at our next tasting test we'll compare the Clef du Vin to a coin. One thing I know so far is that the Clef du Vin works, it’s consistent and I know exactly what I am getting for my $100: (1)  A proven way to age my wine, (2) a great party accessory,  and (3) unlike a coin, I know where my Clef du Vin has been!

    Lead Crystal and the Wine Glass

    Lead has been used in the production of glass for hundreds of years. In fact our lead crystal glasses are our pride and joy. There are two main reasons why lead crystal is a good thing: It's much easier to manufacture as you can work it at a much lower temperatures, and secondly its refractive index is increased, i.e. it is much clearer. The science behind this as follows: When light passes through glass it slows down distorting what you see through the glass, glass without lead  will slow the light much more than glass with lead, thus the clarity of leaded glass in general has been much more superior to that of unleaded.

    Lead however is poisonous. If a liquid, say wine, is left in a decanter or glass for an extended period of time the lead will leach out from the glass into the wine, thus spoiling your wine and poisoning you.

    In general you should select wine glass that does not contain lead, or is labeled lead crystal, but ensure it can still show case your wines. Personally I have used Ravenscroft glasses, as they are completely lead free, with exceptional clarity.

     

    Bottle Orientation

    Air causes the wine to oxidize. This results in premature aging and ultimately the wine turning to vinegar. The glass and the cork will control how much air enters the bottle. We don't have to worry about the glass, but some attention should be paid to the cork. To ensure proper aging, all wine has some air in the bottle to begin with. What's important is to ensure the cork remains moist so no additional air is allowed to enter the bottle. That's why it's advised to store your wine horizontally to keep the cork from cracking or shrinking, thus admitting unwanted air.

    Lead and Wine Glasses

    Lead has been used in the production of glass for hundreds of years. There are two main reasons: It's much easier to manufacture as you can work it at a much lower temperatures, and secondly its refractive index is increased, i.e. it is much clearer. The science behind this as follows: When light passes through glass it slows down distorting what you see through the glass, glass without lead  will slow the light much more than glass with lead, thus the clarity of leaded glass in general has been much more superior to that of unleaded. Lead however is poisonous. If a liquid, say wine, is left in a decanter or glass for an extended period of time the lead will leach out from the glass into the wine, thus spoiling your wine and poisoning you. In general you should select wine glass that does not contain lead, or is labeled lead crystal, but ensure it can still show case your wines. Personally I have used Ravenscroft glasses, as they are completely lead free, with exceptional clarity.  

    Chardonnay serving Temperature

    The 50°F to 60°F range is ideal for substantial white wines, such as most white Burgundy, California and Australia Chardonnay and German Spatlese and Auslese, as well as high quality dessert wines like Sauternes and late-harvest Rieslings. Also light, fruity reds, like Italian Dolcetto and young Chianti, Valpolicella, young Rioja from Spain, and Loire Valley reds like Chinon and Bourgueil.

    The use of infrared technology allows you to measure wine temperature without ever having to come into direct contact with the wine. This gives much more accurate results than measuring the surface of the bottle or the glass.

    Should I buy one?

    I was first introduced to the Clef-du-vin at a birthday party. My good friend brought an unlabeled 150ml bottle of red, he'd done some work for a local vineyard and was given a bunch of these wines for free. When I first tasted the wine it seemed a little gritty, and definitely required some aging. My friend then placed the Clef-du-vin in the wine and started counting. Apparently each second you submerse the device adds another year to the wine. After a count of five I re-tasted the wine - what can I say, it definitely reduced the tannins and improved the wine significantly. I believe the device can't turn any bad wine good immediately, so I'm very interested in the opinion of any other people who have used the Clef-du-vin?

    The Right Wine Glass

    Selecting the right wine glass involves more than just an aesthetic choice based on style.  The design of the glass can significantly enhance or detract from your enjoyment of the wine. Therefore, given the effort you've put into selecting your wine, it makes sense to pay proper attention to the vessel from which you drink it!

    SHAPE:

    The shape of the glass impacts the flavor in three distinct ways.  First, the diameter of the bowl (the widest point of the glass) determines the amount of wine surface area that is exposed to the air; the size of the bowl determines how much or how little liquid can be swirled, which also affects the exposure.  Secondly, the diameter of the opening concentrates or expands the aroma of the wine.  Lastly, the thickness and shape of the rim affects where the wine lands on the tongue. 

    While there are many shapes and styles available, most fall into one of four basic categories:

    Tulip:              

    A wide bowl, narrowing at the top.  This is the classic shape for red wine, as the large diameter allows for adequate swirling to aerate the wine, and the narrow opening concentrates the bouquet.  Many wine-drinkers will choose this as their all-purpose glass.

    Small Tulip:                

    Also commonly referred to as a White Wine Glass, it is similar to the Tulip, with a narrower bowl.  The smaller diameter limits air exposure and helps maintain a chill, making it appropriate for younger and white wines.

    Large Magnum:                      

    A larger Tulip shape with a very wide bowl.  Magnums allow the maximum exposure to air, making them appropriate for "big" wines.  These dramatic glasses can enhance the presentation of rare or special wines.

    Champagne Flute:

    A narrow bowl with straight sides.  The shape prolongs the bubbles and preserves the chill of sparking wines.

    STEM:

    In addition to elevating the wine so its color cam be appreciated, the stem prevents the heat from the wine-drinker's hand from affecting the temperature of the wine.  A stem should be long enough to be held comfortably.  Although very lengthy stems may look elegant, they should be avoided, as their instability makes them more prone to tipping and snapping.

    LEADED VS. UNLEADED:

    Traditionally, all fine wine glasses were made from lead crystal.  The inclusion of lead in the manufacture of crystal serves both to make the materials easier to work with, and to increases the refractive index of light, giving lead crystal its characteristic sparkle.  Some have also noted that lead crystal has a microscopically rough surface, which is why it stains with red wine, and perhaps this coarse area of contact subtly enhances the release of aroma and flavor. It clearly improves the beading of sparkling wines, as the bubbles form at the point of these tiny surface imperfections.

    However, given that lead is toxic to ingest, and wine-drinkers are understandably looking for alternatives.  The newest high-tech material for wine glasses is titanium crystal. This is advertised as stronger, clearer, and less toxic than lead glassware, but also lacks its characteristic surface texture.

    Amazing, simply amazing...

    I was simply amazed at the Clef du Vin. It seems to do everything the manufacturer says it will do which is amazing. With each dip the wine I was drinking got better...until...well we pushed it right over the edge! The other amazing thing was that you could tell in this process that there were going to be years when the wine would be much better than other years. And I have to say, it immediately made my wine taste better (aged).

    Screw tops

    Modern wine screw caps are highly engineered pieces of packaging technology, developed over many years to do the job that corks seem to do only imperfectly. That job is quite simple: to keep the wine inside the bottle and to seal out the air. For a while, some tried to turn cork's deficient sealing capability into a strength, arguing that a slight amount of air exchange is necessary for aging. However, it is now generally agreed that wine is naturally bottled with enough air dissolved in the liquid to permit it to mellow with age. Even if that were not so, modern screw tops are so precise that the winemaker can adjust the tightness of the seal to allow more or less outside air to enter, without the risk of cork taint.

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