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Popping The Paris Cork

Wines in a Window, Photo by Walter Pappas

Popping the Paris Cork

Parler Paris–your daily taste of life in Paris and France

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

We tried it and it’s true. We tried to offer French wine to our readers, but it’s true — it’s just too complicated and expensive to get the bottles out of France and into your “cave” in the States or wherever else you live. So, from now on, Max )of Max on Wine) isn’t going to offer you his great deals anymore. Quel dommage!

Better still, we’re all going to benefit from Max Bachellerie’s amazing knowledge of wines every single month with a lesson or explanation or about a specific production area in France. In my humble opinion — this is a much better deal. You see, as much as I love to eat and as many restaurants as I know, I’ve never developed a lore of wine fitting with my knowledge of food. Now’s my chance to catch up:


The two major points to consider about serving wine are the following;
1) opening before drinking (How long? How/when to decant?)
2) temperature for serving

1) Regarding the rule for opening wine before drinking…there is one basic rule! The only thing to say is Any wine (red, rose, white) needs 10 minutes between opening and drinking.

Young wines have to be opened in advance, mature wines not (except the recommended 10 minutes).

By the way, why let a wine “breathe” before drinking it?:

— in the case of white and rosé wines, they release volatile acids.
— for red wines, the oxygen arriving from the air decreases the power of the tanins so that the wine becomes more flexible and less agressive in the mouth.

Answer to the crucial question: But how long?

Let’s discuss the answer for red wines:

A = strong grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Malbec…)
B = softer grape varieties (Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah…)

Click here to see the chart.

Last point: What do I mean by “open?”

Let’s be clear — to only remove the cork is inefficient because enough air cannot enter the bottle. All the values in the chart are linked to the use of a decanter. The best decanters are not expensive but do have a large flat bottom, allowing more surface contact with air. The stopper is left off during decanting!

2) Temperature of service

Before I give you an answer, let me remind you of a fact about changing times. Years ago, it was suggested to serve red wines at “room temperature” (“chambre” in French), but let’s remember that at that time the average room temperature was 18 degrees Celsius, which is good, but now the average room temperature is up to 22 degrees Celsius which is too warm! So be careful about what “room temperature” means!

Good serving temperatures are:

Sparkling white wine (Champagne) 7-8 degrees Celsius (44.6 – 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit)

Dry white wine (Sauvignon) 8-9 degrees Celsius (46.4 – 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit)

Dry white wine (Chardonnay) 9-10 degrees Celsius (48.2 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit)

Sweet white wine (Sauterne, Jurancon) 11-12 degrees Celsius (51.8 – 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

Red wine (Gamay) 12 – 13 degrees Celsius (53.5 – 55.4 degrees Fahrenheit)

Red wine (Syrah, Pinot Noir) 15-16 degrees Celsius (59 – 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit)

Red wine (Cabernet, Merlot) 17-18 degrees Celsius

If you can make an effort to respect these two subtle directions you can vastly improve your pleasure of wine tasting!

A bientot,

Max Bachelleris
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +33 (0)

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Don’t forget, Max can give wine-tastings (dégustations) in Paris when a location is provided by the host with a budget of 18 Euros per person for 4 different wines to be tasted. Max provides the wine. Minimum 15/Maximum 20 persons. Contact Max

* * *

* Further resources:

* Great meals in Paris don’t have to be expensive. Parisians do it every day…pay less. Learn how.

* Need to understand how to make it work for you, then take us up on a one-on-one.

* The best 35 hotels under $100 a night in Paris…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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