Powerful red wines

Read why we chose powerful red wines during autumn and winter. What defines a powerful red wine. Some examples of grapes and wines.

When autumn comes and we are heading towards winter, we long for some warmth. We switch on the heating and we put on our sweaters. In the taste, we also want more warmth and power. We start making stews and shepherd pies. We spice it up a bit. Partly because we’ve always done it like this.  If our mothers did it that way, why change it? But could it also be our body’s natural reaction to withstand the wind and cold?
We see the same thing happening regarding our wine preferences. In the spring and summer, we prefer white wine, sparkling wine, or rosé. When autumn comes, we increasingly opt for powerful red wines. One of the reasons will probably be that those wines combine better with the firmer and spicier meals that we make. The ingredients of the meals also change. In autumn, for example, the game season starts and the supply of mushrooms (apart from the usual mushrooms in the supermarkets) is larger. And that gives a different bite and taste sensation than the light summer dishes we made.

What is a powerful red wine?

To keep it simple, you can say that a powerful red wine is a red wine with 13.5% alcohol or more that has a lot of color and structure. Besides, they need time for wood and/or bottle aging before they are ready to drink. With these powerful red wines, the tannins stand out. These are the substances that ensure that you get a tight and drying mouthfeel.
To get that 13.5% or more alcohol, the grapes must be able to build up a lot of sugars. After all, sugars are converted into alcohol. This requires grapes that are well ripened. That is why powerful red wines mainly come from relatively warm regions or vineyards with a warm location.

A lot of color in powerful red wines

The red color of wine comes from the skins of the grapes. Only grape varieties with a lot of red coloring in the skin are therefore suitable. To get the color out of the skins, the winegrower ensures that the fermentation takes place at a slightly higher temperature. (28-32 degrees Celsius). The more time the winemaker allows this process of soaking the skins to take place, the more extraction will be the result. There are also ways to speed up this process. The winemaker can use a stick to immerse the floating grape skins mass at set times (pigeage) or pump wine from the bottom of the barrel onto the shell mass (remuage). As a result, controlled oxygen is added and this process is accelerated. Enzymes can also be added to speed up the process.

What role do tannins play?

Tannins are substances that, like the red dyes, are released during maceration and fermentation. When the tannins are extracted from the grape skins, they will rearrange and attach to the dyes. This is very important to maintain a stable color. The tannins provide astringent and bitter taste. How astringent they depend on the concentration and composition of the tannins and the number of dyes. So if you use grapes with fewer dyes, the wines will be more astringent and take longer to drink. The Nebbiolo grape and the Mourvèdre are good examples of this.
A little later in the soaking and maceration process, tannins also come from the seeds from the grape skins. They are more astringent and bitter than tannins from the skins. It is up to the winemaker to determine how long he will allow these tannins to be extracted.

Examples of powerful red wines

Which grapes can produce powerful red wines? There are many grape varieties, but I will give some examples of wines that are commonly known and available.

The Tannat, Sagrantino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Aglianico are good examples. When you buy wine made from these grapes, you know you can expect a powerful red wine. Pay attention. If other grapes were added and used to make a blend, it will of course affect the taste. Usually, this is to make the wine more accessible and softer. A good choice if you prefer this style. If you only want to taste the wine from this particular grape and from that particular region/country, choose a wine made only from that grape (monocépage).

A few more examples of grape varieties and regions where the grapes ripen well due to warm conditions and good powerful red wines can be made: Malbec from Mendoza (Argentina), Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley (USA), Shiraz from Barossa Valley (Australia), Syrah from southern Rhône (France) and try the Merlot from St. Emilion (France).

The Nebbiolo and Mourvèdre (in Spain: Monastrell) are also grape varieties that yield powerful red wines. The Nebbiolo does not have that many dyes in its skin and they are difficult to extract from the Mourvèdre. As a result, the tannins get the upper hand because there are not enough dyes to bond with. You do not expect this power immediately when you look at the color. These wines are quite a translucent ruby ​​red. These wines are not intended for drinking young. They will taste quite astringent at that point. They take years to mature and develop. Even when they are in the bottle.

There are also powerful red wines that can be drunk a bit younger. When properly ripened, the Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and the Touriga Nacional from Portugal have a lot of coloring agents and therefore soften the effects of tannins. These wines are already accessible younger despite the tannins present.

Powerful red wine can be stored well

Besides the fact that powerful red wines taste delicious and are excellent food combinations, it is also an advantage that these are wines suit for storage. This is due to the combination of high alcohol, acidity, tannins, and dyes.

Usually, the wine shop ensures that the wines that are sold are ready for consumption. So you don’t have to put them away for years to wait until you can drink them. However, if you have bought several bottles, you can safely store them for 5 to 7 years. But it does not mean that the older the wine, the better it is! Look at how many old wine bottles are offered on the Internet by sellers who think they own a gold mine, but those wines are only fit to go right down the drain. So make sure you enjoy your delicious wine on time.

If you have good wines of very high quality that are made in a style that needs aging and are intended for that, then those bottles can be stored for 10 to 20 years or much longer. There is little chance that these wines are in your cellar or cupboard unless you buy those expensive bottles. When in doubt about the storage time of your wine, just ask in the wine shop.

You know a little more about powerful red wines now and which wines you can choose this autumn and winter. Cheers.
And if you are a fan of this wine style, be my guest to use them all year-round.

Valley View, Oregon

” De ontmoeting met een goed mens blijft altijd een mooie herinnering in ons leven “

André Demedts, schrijver
Mark Wisnowsky

Ik ben op de Prowein in Düsseldorf. Wijnmaker Mark Wisnowsky nam de tijd om te praten over Oregon en zijn wijnen. Natuurlijk sprak hij ook over zijn eigen bedrijf: Valley View.

Valley View Winery ligt ten zuiden van Jacksonville, in de Applegate Valley AVA ( = American Viticultural Area). Dat ligt in de zuidelijke wijnregio van Oregon, Verenigde Staten. Een gebied omringd door een bergachtig landschap met als grootste stad Medford.
Ik stel vragen over het klimaat en temperatuur, in de veronderstelling dat het zo ver noordelijk wel behoorlijk fris zal zijn. Mark vertelt echter tot mijn verbazing dat het hier qua temperatuur redelijk warm is. ‘s zomers 25 graden gemiddeld overdag. Gelukkig is er wel een groot verschil tussen dag/nacht temperatuur. Het rijpen van de druiven is dus nooit zo’n probleem. Gedurende het groeiseizoen is er weinig regen. In deze regio moeten ze er voor zorgen dat de wijnen niet te ver richting “jammy”doorschieten. Dat betekent tijdig oogsten. Valley view maakt wijnen die vooral op fruit en terroir geënt zijn. Bij veel van zijn wijnen wordt geen eik gebruikt. En als dat wel zo is, dan is dat meestal oud en gebruikt eiken. Zodoende wordt er slechts een vleugje meegegeven van de houtinvloed en spreekt de wijn voor zich, aldus Mark.
We praten over de soorten druiven die gebruikt worden. Mark vertelt dat in Oregon wel 60 verschillende internationale druivensoorten zijn aangeplant. En inderdaad laat hij een range van verschillende wijnen proeven van zichzelf en zijn collega’s. Het gaat van Viognier tot Tempranillo en van Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc tot Merlot. De kosten om ze te importeren en de concurrentie van goede Europese alternatieven maken dat ze in Europa iets minder bekend zijn.
Maar uit eigen ervaring kan ik zeggen dat er genoeg valt te ontdekken op wijngebied. Misschien eens langs gaan in de meimaand, wanneer in de hele staat Oregon

Viruses in the vineyard

An Italian Vineyard

“Life gives us much to worry about; and wine makes the worries disappear.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-

The Coronavirus has the whole world in its grip.
And how about viruses in the vineyard? What do we know about them?
In the vineyard, the winegrower has to deal every day with viruses and fungi that threaten his vines and grapes. In both cases, it’s the question: how do you prevent those viruses and how do you fight them. In this article, I will limit myself to the viruses in wine growing.


Most people know that there was once a major disaster that almost completely destroyed European vineyards, the Phylloxera. This took place in the 19th century. This was a grape louse that fed on the roots of the vines. The bite wounds he inflicted infected the vines in those areas and they died within a few years. There was a solution. American grapevines that evolved with this grape lice had developed a natural defense mechanism. A sticky juice that was released after a bite and stuck to the mouth of the grape louse and placed a protective layer over the bite wound at the same time. Enting the European grape varieties onto these American vines has largely curbed that danger.

Viruses on vines

Viruses on vines are usually not fatal but often affect the ability of the vine to function properly so that there is often no other option than to dig up the vines and disinfect the soil. Usually, viruses in the vineyard are spread through cuttings or microscopic worms that attack the roots. With cuttings of vines (also called clones), you create plants with the same characteristics. The risk is that you also multiply the viruses present. A modern solution is the cloning of the grape via tissue on culture. Here, virus-free growing tops are cloned in a laboratory. You can then graft it on a vine that is resistant to these small worms.

Insects and bacteria

What other dangers threaten the vine? Insects such as the sharpshooter, a family member of the cicada, transmit bacteria that can affect the grapevine by sucking the plant juices. There is little that can be done about this. Fortunately, vineyards in colder climates that sometimes have to deal with frost do not suffer from these insects. It is possible that natural enemies also can be used, such as the parasitic wasp, but I have not found any data on this yet.

Fungal diseases

And then there are the fungal diseases that can attack the vine. This mainly occurs when there are hot and humid environments. In Maritime climates, this situation naturally occurs as a standard. Mildew and Downy Mildew are fungi that a winegrower does not like to see on his green parts of the vine and on his grapes. Affected grapes taste less fruity and will taste moldy and bitter. As a solution, the winegrower can use a chemical spray. He normally uses this about twice or three times a season. Natural agents such as sulfur and copper dissolved in water are also available (the so-called “Bordeaux porridge”). This is even allowed being a natural substance in organic wine growing. The disadvantage is that you have to spray again after every moment of rain because otherwise these products are rinsed off the leaves. During a season it is necessary to spray about 12 to 16 times. Of course, this sulfur and copper also enter the soil and are undoubtedly absorbed by the vine. I’ll leave it to the consumer to judge what method is preferred.

The most important means is still the selection of the right grape variety for the particular climate and vineyard. It is wise to choose the grape variety that thrives best. With the right vine rootstock and clone variant. That’s all a winegrower can do. Except of course take good care of his vineyard and ensure that his vines are healthy.

Cheers, and take good care of yourself.


In addition, here are a number of articles that I found on the Internet.

1. On the Winespectator website, there is an article that indicates a signal when the sense of smell is decreasing. This could indicate an early indication of having Corona, according to the article. ( English)

2. The well-known wine exhibition center La Cité du Vin (www.laciteduvin.com/fr), in Bordeaux, has closed due to the Corona crisis. But they still have a lot of information online. A lot can be heard about the wine culture in the world. ( English and French) Watch and listen: https://soundcloud.com/laciteduvin

3. On the website of De Wijnhoek, I found a lot of information about damage to wine grapes. (Also in English.) http://www.dewijnhoek.nl/database/info83.html

Alcohol-free wine versus grape juice

alcohol-free wine and grape juice

One could drink water instead of wine, but in that case it’s almost a pity you’re thirsty.

Fritz Francken ( Flemish writer)

Non-alcoholic wine and grape juice

Drinking alcohol-free beverages is hip. Alcohol-free beers and non-alcoholic wines are trendy. Alcohol-free wine is a great solution for drivers. Now you can safely drink a glass of wine and still get behind the wheel responsibly. In fact, it’s so hip that a lot of people join the non-alcohol month of January initiative in the Netherlands. People take up the challenge of not consuming alcohol for a month. I have my second thoughts. It sounds a bit like a hype like joining the bucket challenge, the planking movies on youtube, the cinnamon challenge, etc. But maybe I am wrong and those people really want to do something about their health. In that case, I would recommend something else to do throughout the year other than just being a total abstainer for just a month. But that’s not the point. Let’s see what alcohol-free wine is and how it is made.

Alcohol-free wine contains alcohol

To come straight to the point: non-alcoholic wine always contains a little bit of alcohol. It is only a little bit, 0.5% alcohol, but still. Good to know. In fact, the label should say “alcohol poor wine”, but of course that sells less well. Couldn’t you just as well drink grape juice? Let’s explore that.

Non-alcoholic wine versus Grape juice

A good question indeed: Can’t you just as well buy yourself a pack of grape juice? Isn’t that the same thing as alcohol-free wine? And much cheaper! Are we not being scammed here? I now just feel like a tv program that is getting to the bottom of it.
You’re right. Grape juice is much cheaper than alcohol-free wine. But is it the same as non-alcoholic wine?
Grape juice is produced by pressing grapes. To make it sustainable, it is often pasteurized. When you have a quality brand this is all pure juice. The cheaper brands also add water, sugar and flavoring- and coloring agents. Water is cheaper than fruit juice.
Non-alcoholic wine is, of course, also made from pressed grapes. But that’s how far the similarities go. To make an alcohol-free wine, traditional wine has been made from the pressed grape juice. During the fermentation, many sugars in grape juice have been converted into alcohol and specific aromas have been created. Finally, alcohol has largely been removed. But the specific aromas that go with this wine have mostly remained. Just try it. Really very different from grape juice.

Non-alcoholic wine and calories

Good news for the thirsty person who wants to drink something tasty but also wants to mind the calories. A glass of non-alcoholic wine contains far fewer calories than regular wine. 4x as few calories! Good to know. But we were talking about the comparison between alcohol-free wine and grape juice. What about that? The alcohol-free wine also tends to be the winner here. Non-alcoholic wine contains around 3x fewer calories than grape juice.

How is non-alcoholic wine made?

The basis of non-alcoholic wine is regular wine. Next, the alcohol is removed. Remains the question: how do they fix that? I sorted it out for you. There are different ways to remove alcohol from wine.  
1. Evaporation by heating
This was the first method being used. With this method, important aromas also disappeared at the same time during the evaporation. Moreover, this wine often smells rather unpleasant. In the best case, it smells after stewed fruits. That is why the first non-alcoholic wines did not sell. Nowadays, there are better methods.
2. Vacuum distillation
This is a much better technique where the wine is being vacuumed at room temperature. The alcohol evaporates due to the low pressure. Non-volatile aromas are retained, but aromas also disappear with this method. Sometimes they are added later. Often these are better wines than with method 1, but you still miss some tastes with this method.
3. Membrane filtering
This method is the most successful so far. Via a centrifuge technique, the wine is filtered through an ultra-thin membrane at a low temperature. With this method, most of the aromas remain in the wine.

How do you know which technique has been used? You cannot know that unless the winemaker has published this. There is nothing else to do but to find the info on the internet. But why not go to your wine shop, ask for advice and try the wine.

The different taste of non-alcoholic wine

Many wine lovers think alcohol-free wines taste different than regular wines. They are right. There is nothing to argue with that. We have already seen that during the process of removing alcohol from wine, aromas also disappear. Another point is that alcohol in wine also plays a positive role when it comes to taste.
Alcohol in wine can slightly mask the acidity and even adds a sweet impression. No wonder that both white and red non-alcoholic wines often taste a bit more acidic.
Non-alcoholic wines also often have less body and balance. Alcohol in regular wines also has a positive contribution at this point.
Red alcohol-free wine in particular can feel quite astringent. That is that rough mouthfeel of tannins. With regular wine, alcohol influences this in a positive way.

Better quality of non-alcoholic wines

Most non-alcoholic wines were unpleasant to drink a few years ago. Improved techniques have resulted in better non-alcoholic wines. There is nonetheless a big difference between regular – and alcohol-free wines. And we already mentioned the clear differences with grape juice. But you can’t compare the products that way. Every product has its own qualities, characteristics and has its own fans.
My conclusion: choose the product that you feel comfortable with, what you feel like or what is appropriate at that particular moment.

The influence of Coronavirus on the wine trade

Coronavirus and the wine trade

He was strolling around enjoying the early spring and decided that life wasn’t that bad.

Marten Toonder ( Dutch comic artist)

The influence of Corona on the wine trade

Are you serious? Is this a topic you should worry about? Aren’t there other things to worry about than the world wine trade with all the recent news about the Coronavirus. Maybe you’re right. But as this is a wine blog, I want to inform my readers about the impact on the wine trade of the Coronavirus in the light of the global world trade stagnation. Do we get empty wine shelves? Can we expect higher prices for wine?

Prowine Düsseldorf postponed

This week I received a message that the Prowine wine fair in Düsseldorf in Germany has been postponed. A brave decision to take of the management. This is going to cost them a lot of money. The Prowine is a huge fair where winemakers from all over the world meet wine merchants. (I wrote another blog about this fair with photos, so feel free to have a look.) Here, wines from distant continents can be discovered and trade agreements can be made. A fantastic way to discover wines in 1 place in a short time you would like to offer in your wine shop or webshop without having to travel all over the world. Here will in many cases be determined which wines will appear on the shelves of the wine stores. Does the canceling of this exhibition affect the supply in the stores? Not directly. Every wine merchant has his regular contacts and regular orders will undoubtedly continue. It will make trading a bit more difficult for the wine trade, but the consumers will not notice anything.

Empty shelves

We already saw images on the news of supermarkets in the quarantine areas with empty shelves. This does not yet apply to other areas in the world. In the Netherlands however, you see the effect that some people start storing groceries. That will not apply to wine. After all, this is not one of the primary necessities when thinking of nutrition. The supply of supermarkets, stores, and wine shops also seems to continue as usual. After all, a virus is not passed on via goods.
The supply of wines from Lombardy and Veneto from Italy is perhaps the exception, where there is a Lockdown for these regions. This may make exporting wine from Northern Italy more difficult. For wine traders who use Chinese container ships for wine transports, the delivery will also cause some delay. In spite of the fact that the ports in China are slowly recovering and at this moment ships from China have a delay of 6 weeks. Wines from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa can therefore perhaps be delivered later than planned. The expectation is that China will not have made up for its logistical backlog until this summer. We’ll have to wait and see how things will develop in the coming period. But you will not find empty wine shelves in the stores. That’s for sure.

Higher prices for wine

But what about the prices for wine? Will the problems of the Coronavirus and as a result, the stagnating world economy affect the price of wine? In other words: Can we expect higher prices for wine? I think we can conclude that this is probably not the case. Overall there are no scarcities in the wine trade in Europe and the supply will with some hiccups continue as usual. In the worst case with a delay.

In conclusion, we can state that for the wine consumer in Europe there will be little changes in the current situation. So enjoy your glass of wine.

I wish everyone, as the French say, Santé.

The secret of Champagne

“In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it”

The secret of Champagne

The secret of Champagne

Champagne has a great appeal. Are there any special moments, do you have something to celebrate? Champagne automatically puts itself in the spotlight. How did that happen? What is the secret of Champagne?

In this article, I will unravel the secret of Champagne step by step. What is absolutely no secret is that good Champagne is very tasty. Champagne, the wine, is very well put together. But Champagne, the brand, too.

Champagne a protected brand

Champagne is a protected name. Only sparkling wine that is made in Champagne and where only grapes from the Champagne region have been used to make it is allowed to be called Champagne. The border of the AOC Champagne region was established in 1927 (but this may soon be expanded by around 10%). A strong strategic move to protect the product name. This guarantees that the consumer actually gets what he pays for. In addition, winemakers from Champagne must meet many conditions such as prescribed grapes, prescribed alcohol percentage, prescribed pruning method, prescribed preparation method, prescribed maximum yield during harvest and pressing, etc.

Champagne and marketing

Marketing is also a secret of Champagne. Because how do you think it is possible that when people have something to celebrate, they think of Champagne? Forget for a moment the delicious product that Champagne is of course and we know the answer: marketing.

Over the past hundreds of years, that image has gradually been burnt into our brains. Napoleon was already a Champagne enthusiast. And if we may believe the story, after his defeat at Waterloo near Champagnehuis Ruinart, he drank Champagne to get rid of his grief that evening. And the next day the smart Champagne makers treated the victors of Waterloo (Tsar, Prince, Generals, and Kings from various countries) to delicious Champagne in the same place. And that was immediately made public of course. Advertising Avant la Lettre. And that continues until the day of today. Who hasn’t seen today’s heroes (successful sporters, DJs, Rappers, etc.) on TV spraying the champagne! Another Champagne secret.

The taste of Champagne

The biggest secret of Champagne is, of course, the taste. The three most used grape varieties each having their own character. The Chardonnay brings the sharpness, straightness. It is also a bit leaner or more acidic and therefore often receives a slightly higher dosage for the balance. The blue Pinot Noir grape provides more power and fruit aromas. The blue Pinot Meunier grape gives it more floral notes and elegancy. So take a look at the label for a moment to see the ratio of the grapes being used. Or do you have a bottle of Champagne made from just one grape variety? That makes a big difference. Discover the secret of your Champagne.

Chardonnay harvest
Chardonnay harvest

The composition of Champagne

Champagne is a mouth-watering champion in terms of taste. One of the secrets is that Champagne is composed of different basic wines from different vintages. On each different vineyard parcel and from every grape variety, basic wines are being made. These wines are mixed later in the process of winemaking until the desired taste has been achieved. Sometimes up to 30 basic wines are mixed. On the label, you will see the words “cuvée” or “assemblage”. So in Champagne different grape varieties are never mixed to make the basic wine. Large Champagne wineries have elevated this to a level of art, because they manage to produce the same taste every year, regardless of the harvest or weather conditions that year. A stunning performance indeed. As a consumer, you know exactly what you are buying over and over again.

Time for me to break a lance for the smaller producers. They have fewer large stocks of older basic wines and therefore have fewer options for the assembling. Their Champagne is perhaps more exciting because you can taste the differences in soil (terroir) and harvest year. Perhaps you’ll get a Champagne from a lesser year, but you can also come across unexpected gems. Another Champagne secret.

Is Champagne expensive?

The price of Champagne is no secret at all. Does it have to be that expensive? Is that price justified?

To begin with, there is a great demand for Champagne. The demand for Champagne is increasing every year, but the Champagne area with its yearly yields remains the same. You can imagine that this is driving up the price. A bottle of Champagne requires 1 ½ kilo of grapes. At the moment (2019) this costs € 11 per bottle. This is only the raw material. This price has yearly risen up to 7% in recent years. The production, storage, merchants, material costs and everything else you can think of is not even added. Huge costs are being made to produce a bottle of Champagne. Imagine what to expect from a supermarket Champagne of € 14.95! This will probably not be made from the best quality grapes. ( For the Dutch readers during New year’s eve: Great wine for the “oliebollen” (treat made of waffle dough baked in oil). It’s silly to use a high-quality Champagne for that).

Just to indicate how much money is involved: at the LVMH group (Veuve Cliquot, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart, Krug, Dom Perignon) which produces around a quarter of the total annual 300 million bottles of Champagne, for about 55 million of their 75 million bottles grapes are purchased from winemakers. Times € 11 ….= a huge amount. Just imagine.

If you have any questions about Champagne, I am happy to tell you more about it. Let me know. And in the meantime: enjoy! Because that is the real secret of Champagne.

Happy Champagne!

Which wines are suitable for storing?

“Life is full of events that make us desire to get older”

Albert Camus – ( French writer, essayist and Nobelpricewinner literature (1956) 1913-1960 )

What the winemaker intended

What can we tell about de storing and aging of wine? There is a lot to tell actually. One of the first things we have to keep in mind is the following: Most wines are not intended to store for a long time. That means that not all wines are suitable for ageing. 90% of the wines are made to be drunk young. There is no point in preserving these wines in the hope that tertiary aromas will develop. This is not what the winemaker intended.
Rose and red “nouveau” wines are the least stable and should preferably be drunk within a year. If they are well made, they will not deteriorate quickly, but they will not get any better either.
Beaujolais, Merlot, Zinfandel are examples of wines that should preferably be drunk young. But this is, of course, only a directive. A Beaujolais or Merlot of very high quality can age fantastically. But I’m sure you’ll have noticed that in the price whether it’s a good candidate suitable for aging.


An easy rule to remember is that simple, common white and red wines can be kept for 2 to 3 years (with the exception of what is mentioned above, of course). You don’t keep these wines in the hope the aromas will develop, but just to have a bottle of wine in the house when you need it.

Some wines can be kept longer

Some wines can be kept a little longer. But that’s only about 9% of all wines. They can usually be stored between 5 and 7 years. Only concentrated wines are suitable and can develop new flavours and aromas. Often they are the better, traditionally made wines. These can be both white and red wines. Especially red wines and dessert wines are suitable because of the high tannin content or high sugar content. The tannins or sugars act as a kind of preservative. The tannins of red wine often become softer and rounder when they age.

10 years or more

There are few wines that can be kept for at least 10 years.
It concerns only 1% of all wines produced. Because the production time of these wines is much longer, and because they are rarer, they are also more expensive. Here, too, it can be both white and red wines. They have to be of high quality. The red wines in this category are actually not very pleasant to drink if you drink them young. Because of the tannins that are still hard, stiff and “unripe”. Aging is what you would prefer if you have such a wine so that beautiful aromas are formed and the tannins become riper, softer and rounder. To give some examples: Bordeaux, Barolo, Grand Cru Bourgogne, and Vintage Port are examples of wines that generally age well and can even benefit from it.
For a quick overview I made an infographic.
Again: the simpler (often cheaper) the wine, the shorter the shelf life.

Storing wines. How many years can you keep your wines?

More about storing wines

Old bottles of wine worth a fortune?

“It’s best to burn old wood, drink old wine, trust old friends, and read old authors”

Francis Bacon (English philosopher and statesman, 1561 – 1626)-

Are old wines always valuable?

Recently I bought an old batch of wine. The selling party, fortunately, understood my explanation that it was pure luck if these wines were still drinkable. I offered a fair price. Unfortunately, all the wines were too far gone to drink.
Often people have the idea that old wines are worth a lot of money and they can hit the jackpot on eBay or other platforms. You can see the dollar signs in their eyes. They often think: old bottles? Then they must have a lot of value. Sadly enough I’ll have to disappoint them. A wine has to be intended to store for a longer period in order to keep it longer in the cellar. Most people don’t buy these high-quality wines. And a Bordeaux wine? Isn’t this the kind of wine you always can keep for decades? Unfortunately, I’ll have to disappoint you again.
Actually, there are high-quality wines you cán keep for a longer period of time. In 90% of the cases, the storage life is limited and does not go beyond 5 to 7 years. A good directive is that wines with a purchase price of under €30 / 27 GBP are not suitable for long storage. And that’s a very mild estimation.

What then determines the storage time of wines?

Roughly, one could say that wines that are high in the acids, have enough tannins and have a higher alcohol percentage, are the best wines for preserving. I will tell you more about this in a next Blog.

Wine level in the bottle

If you have an old bottle of wine, usually the level of wine has dropped. That’s normal. Because of the microscopic holes in the cork, the wine can breathe. But that also means that the wine can evaporate. In the infographic below you can check the expected wine quality in your old bottle and whether or not it may have been corrupted. I cannot repeat enough: to be able to store a wine for a longer period of time the wine must be of good or even exceptional quality. If you’ve bought the wine in a grocery store at a low price, you can assume that this is certainly not the case.

Infographic wine level in a bottle

old wine worth a fortune. Wine levels in a bottle.

I used the internationally expressions to indicate the different wine levels in the bottle. Explanation of the terms:

Within neck: This is the filling height when filling the bottle. Normally 4.5 cm. below the capsule.
Bottom neck: If the wine has this level every wine of every year will be ok.
Very top shoulder: normal for wines of 15 years and older. If you have an old wine then this is the wine level you would wish for in a bottle.
Top shoulder: You can expect this with 20-year-old wines. If a high-quality wine of 40 years old has this level, you are fortunate.
Upper shoulder: often with wines older than 30 years. Great risk that the wine is spoiled and that you taste cork.
Mid shoulder: wines that have this level are usually not good anymore.
Low shoulder: If the wine has this level it is most certainly not good anymore.


I’ll have to make a small side note. Sweet wines (dessert wines, for example) and fortified wines such as Port or Madeira are better preserved by their high sugar content or alcohol content. And also distilled drinks such as Cognac or Whisky will usually not pose any problems at a lower position in the bottle.

Good advice

A wine connoisseur recently gave me good advice regarding old wines. He stated: “Do you have a bottle of old wine, and think it’s still good?…. drink it immediately and enjoy it. Why keep it in your cellar in order to wash it through the drain years later. Wines are there to enjoy! “

I can only agree with him. Cheers.
And best of luck with checking your wine bottles. Let me know if this info of mine was helpful.

Walking and tasting wine

“Everything is at a walkin distance if you have enough time”

Steven Wright-
Welcome to Siebelingen, Pfalz, Germany for the culinary walk

A culinary walk

Kulinarische Weinbergswanderung Siebeldingen, Pfalz (De) 15-09-2019

A walk amongst the vineyards

It is almost becoming a tradition in our wine loving family: A wine walk amongst the vineyards. If you take a moment to google you will easily find such a great event in every wine-producing country. Something you will have to do once in your life if you ask me. Enjoying the scenery while walking amongst the grapes soon turning into nice wines. Surrounded by cheerful people enjoying the event. And of course, an easy way to get acquainted with the wines of one area.

The vinyards in Siebelingen, Pfalz, Germany. The perfect place to taste and enjoy wine.

The trail

This year I chose Siebeldingen in the Pfalz. Organizer www.sigibaldus-winzer.de had set out a picturesque route of about 7 km through the vineyards. There were 7 stations where you could enjoy culinary treats and you could taste the wines of a winemaker from this area. And they were not the least of wines. If I tell you that our first station was winemaker Rebholz from Siebeldingen, then you know that the quality of the wines was really good.

Culinary treats

There was also plenty to explore culinarily spoken. From goat cheese with truffle honey to Hokkaido foam soup and from Flammkuchen to game ragout. Sometimes a station has been set up at a winery, at another time stands have been set up in the middle of the vineyards. Everything has been done to ensure that there are enough seats at every station to enjoy the food and wines. There is also live music. The traveling music band travels from station to station with a tractor and trailer.

Point of interest

A nice stopover on the route is the Julius Kühn Institut, Geilweilerhof. Here, research is being done on wine grape varieties in order to make them more resistant to colder climates or to vermin. There is an interesting exhibition and the new vines varieties can be viewed both inside and outside. Another point of interest are the rows of vines of the world’s most known wine grape varieties. Especially when they bear fruit in September, you can see the differences between the wine grape varieties. Worth a visit when you are in the Pfalz in Germany.

Trade war Trump vs. China bad for wine trade with China?

“Walking to Bejing also starts with making the first steps. If you don’t make them you’ll never get there. “

Wim Kan ( Dutch comedian)-

Trade war Trump vs. China bad for wine trade with China?

It may be common knowledge that the wine trade, in general, is not an easy business. In the Netherlands, it is possible to get any kind of wine in any price range.  You really have to distinguish yourself. The wine trade with China is quite a different challenge. Here other often unwritten rules apply. It is obvious to assume that the current trade war between the US and China will not do much good if you want to trade in wine to China. But is it as bad as it looks?

Experience trading in China

Last year I was able to assist 2 young and enthusiastic Dutch entrepreneurs with their first steps in the field of the wine trade with China. So I was in the first rank to observe the process. With a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, they created a great stand at the Prowine fair in Shanghai with quality wines from France and Spain. They had imported the wines themselves and had them sent to China. A whole undertaking for starting entrepreneurs that has my deepest respect. Agreements with winemakers, brochures, laboratory reports, customs papers. Everything was arranged to perfection. It soon became clear that trading with the Chinese has different rules in contrast to trading in the Western world. Doing business quickly does not exist. A lot of conversations, dinners, parties, etc. are needed before the topic is really about wine and trading. And signed contracts do not have the same meaning as in Europe. Here too you have to invest time to ensure that commitments are met.


It soon became clear that a low price is very important for the Chinese. This is, of course, important in every country, but it became clear wines on the basis of the price rather than the quality. If a minimum price was given, the Chinese wanted even more discount. And after that again a lower price.

Unfair competition

It is difficult to gain a place in terms of low prices in the wine trade in China. As witnessed, it became clear that China benefits Australia and Chile do not have to pay import duties for wine. They have recently gained a free trade agreement in the field of wine. That saves 50% on the bottle and transport value. A huge sum of money that is almost impossible to compete with. Previously, a lot of China’s wine import was based on brand awareness. Bordeaux and Burgundy were resounding names for the Chinese. Now the Chinese are looking at comparable wines for better prices.  The signal from French winemakers and French wine merchants last month about the declining trade with China becomes more clear with this knowledge. An almost hopeless case unless European countries also get free trade agreements for wine.

Effect of the current trade war

The effect of the current trade war on wine trade with China appears to be small for us in Europe. After all, there were already major obstacles. The elements mentioned before, such as other trade habits and different import duties, have a much greater impact at this moment. Perhaps winegrowers from the US will experience more difficulties in the short term in their wine trade with  China. Let’s wait and see.