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Iced Tea, Lemonade, Cold Beer and Port?

It's not your grandpa's drink anymore...

I have a question. Though maybe I shouldn’t ask, ‘cause what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

I spend Sundays in the Garden State where my mother lives. It's also where my brother and his family live. I have, on occasion, popped into the local liquor stores, just to look you understand – I’d never dream of procuring anything from that side of the Delaware.

What I see is the same annoying display of wines that I see so often in many other states, and I’m not referring to the selections. I’m talking about the way the wines are stored on the shelves. It’s appalling! Far too many are standing upright.

Upright!

So my question is this: Hasn’t anyone learned the first basic rule of wine preservation? We’re in 2011 for goodness sake, not 1975. Bottles should be stored in a horizontal, not vertical, position. I, for one, never buy an upright-standing bottle.

Never.

Let me remind those retailers why we lay bottles on their side – wine (still, for the most part) has a cork at one end of it. The cork is made out of wood and, if not lubricated, will shrink, thus letting in air. Air in the bottle will turn the wine to vinegar. (In many cases, very expensive vinegar.) But if the bottle is correctly stored on its side, the wine will touch the cork, ensuring that it remains swollen and preventing air from entering the bottle.

Now I bet every Abington Patch reader knows that and they’re savvy enough to avoid bottles that aren’t correctly stored. If you didn’t know that, I strongly urge you to seek out only the properly resting bottles from this time hence.

Let’s call it a summer resolution.

And if you’re wondering what to drink in this too-hot-to-breathe weather, let me suggest two ports. Why? Because a lot of trendy people now put ice into port (although I’d recommend sticking it in the fridge for twenty minutes).

The first is one I've recommended here before – Hardys “Whiskers Blake” Classic Tawny Port (PLCB code 59432; $19) from Australia. Hardys grow the grapes for this product in many vineyards from many varietals, until they produce an aged tawny port, which is one of the most enjoyable quaffs you can enjoy quite alone lost in your thoughts.

The wine was aged in small oak casks for an average of eight years and the result is a delicious nectar, sweet, with touches of caramel, chocolate and toffee.

Also look out for De Bortoli 8-Year-Old Tawny Port (PLCB code 14111; $25), also from Australia. De Bortoli is a third-generation family wine company established by Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli in 1928. The couple immigrated to Australia from Northern Italy. Their son Deen De Bortoli, (1936 – 2003) expanded and consolidated the business created by his parents. Deen's children established De Bortoli's reputation for premium wine including the iconic dessert wine Noble One and the Yarra Valley wines.

If you find yourself indoors while hot winds blow and waves of heat are crashing around outside your home, remember the old adage: Any port in a storm.

Cheers!

Louis Salvino July 23, 2011 at 10:38 PM
This was a very informative blog. I wasn’t exactly sure why wines needed to be laid on its side, but I always made sure when I purchased a bottle to store it side. I sort of guess it had less chance of settling in a horizontal position. I have notice at my local state store that the retailer has one bottle in a vertical position for display purposes, but the remaining stock is on its side. Thanks again for the tip, I plan to try the port you describe on my next visit to the state store.

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