JWL Issue #128: 3 Portuguese wines and opening bottles

February 9, 2021

Last Thursday, our second wine arrived with us, and by mid afternoon on Friday we had everyone's February shipment out the door. This was a real treat to get to do this ourselves for you and can't wait to start providing faster turnaround times across the board.

We also restarted Wine List Live – our ongoing series of in-depth tastings, which take place over Zoom. If you've not done one before, Wine List Live takes place over Zoom focused on a specific subject.

This could be forgotten grapes, as it was last week, or a primer on Champagne, Burgundy, or natural wine as the next three are. These are really focused groups, with no more than 10 others involved, led by our head of wine, Isabelle Lynch.

If it's our February box you're looking to dive deeper into, we've got our monthly tastealong this Wednesday. This starts at 8pm on YouTube – head here, subscribe and set a reminder for the event.

And if it's learning via video you like, you can watch Isabelle explain why winemakers use oak staves in one of our most recent videos. Here she compares a properly oak aged pinot with one made using oak staves.

With Valentine's Day coming up, we're doing free postage on our celebration box – Michel Gonet 3 Terroirs Champagne, and Grappin Savigny-les-Beaune white Burgundy. Buy both together with this link for free postage.

And finally, very long time readers (you know who you are), will remembered I once put together the Introduction to English Wine podcast. We're sharing the stories from that podcast in a series of blogs. First up is Will Davenport. Will's Diamond Fields pinot noir was the first-ever English red wine I ever drank. We've managed to get hold of four cases, but that's it. Why not buy a bottle, sit back and enjoy one of England's legends.


Three Portuguese Treats

I've been exploring Portugal a bit more recently. As well as the great port the country has to offer, there's plenty more as well.

In Lidl, Monsaraz Reserva Alentejo (£6.99) is a dried herb, chocolate and raspberry stomper. If you love your reds dry, then look no further. Cries out for steak or barbecued meats.

Carlos Lucas Dao (£5.99 from Aldi) is instantly warming, with a lovely spicy, red fruit-driven nose. For the price, this is incredibly elegant, mixing ripe fruit, earthiness and florality in perfect measure. Decanter even gave it a 91 as well.

As for the journey into Portugal, it all started with Quinta de Baixo 'Lagar de Baixo' (£23.50 from Vin Cognito, or £27 from Peckham's General Store). If you think Portugese red means jammy and overly ripe, think again. This was elegant, complex, balanced and pinot-esque. Mark under 'high altitude, light, complex, red belters.' I.e. my absolute favourites.


How long can you keep a bottle open for?

With lockdown in full swing, and fewer friends around to help finish off a bottle, sometimes we want to keep wine open for several days.

Oxygen is key here. Oxygen is what ages the wine and eventually makes it turn to vinegar. If you open a bottle and drink a small glass from it, there will only be a small amount of oxygen in the bottle when we put the cork back in. This means that the bottle will last for quite a few days before it starts to turn.

If there’s only a third of the bottle left, there is a lot of oxygen trapped inside the bottle. This will age the wine faster meaning you will need to drink the remnants within a day or two to make the most of the wine.

One little trick is to transfer the wine to a half bottle. Or for longer term options, we love Eto.

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