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A Local Wine Menage-a-Trois Soiree via Twitter

This exciting edition (is there any other kind?) of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo (that's the monkey) and me taking on one wine, but in three slightly (but importantly) different ways.

Last week, I participated in several Twitter Taste Live events, one of them being co-hosted by BinEndsWine.com and DrVino.com titled "Drink Local!" in which we reviewed local (to the reviewers., that is) wines. My previous post on the event has more background detail (and a recap of the twitter conversations).

Because I'm a homer, and I'm lazy, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I reviewed Penns Woods' 2004 Ameritage Reserve (a Bordeaux style red blend), but with a twist - I presented the wine in three different "formats":

  1. Poured directly from the bottle
  2. Decanted 3+ hours before serving
  3. "Decanted" directly from the bottle using a wine gadget called the Wine Soiree.
The Soiree looks like a glass Christmas tree ornament, or a sex toy for the very, very adventurous. Or an elegant alien spacecraft for extraterrestrial fleas...

Anyway, according to the Wine Soiree website and promotional materials, it is supposed to function somewhat like a decanter, using the principle of aeration. Wine contains many volatile chemicals that impart aroma, flavor, and also help to integrate a wine's components so that it tastes better. Exposing those volatile components to air starts the process. This is one reason why decanting hefty red wines for a time before drinking them helps to make the wine more accessible and softer.

I poured all of my "versions" of the Penns Woods Ameritage into identical ISO tasting glasses (because I'm a nerd and I do own those, thank you very much) and had a go at each in comparison.

The result? Check out the following excerpt from my twitter feed during the Twitter Taste Live event:

Twitter 1winedude: #ttl Yo yo YO! I'm tasting 2004 Penns Woods Ameritage Reserve. Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, & whatever other reds the winemaker (Gino Razzi) wants
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl From the Brandywine valley of SE PA
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl I did a little experiment. I have 3 glasses of the same wine, but each is different...
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #1 was poured directly from the bottle. #2 was decanted 3+ hrs. #3 was poured using that in-bottle Soiree decanter thing-y
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #1 direct from the bottle: smoke (a LOT of it); cedar; black currants; a little rough around the edges on the tannins; good finish
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl According to Mrs. Dudette: "It's like licking a chimney there's so much smoke! But in a good way."
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #2 decanted 3+ hrs: MUCH smoother, with more dark cherry; the oak is more integrated and the finish seems to go forever...
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl I might be still tasting this finish tomorrow when I brush my teeth in the morning!!!
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl #3 'decanted' via the soiree: has the currant & cedar elements of #1, but not as integrated as #2; finish is la bit onger than #1
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl This Soiree does something... and it seems good to aerate a wine in a pinch or when a decanter is not available.
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl but it ain't quite like decanting!
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl As for the wine itself - very good, not his best vintage tho. The 2005 has more promise; 2002 is... well... freakin' sublime!
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl This 04 is a bit too expensive for what it is, but it's a very, very well made Bord'x style blend. And YES it is from PA!
Twitter 1winedude: #ttl So in summary: Penns Woods make a kick-ass wine, and the Soiree does actually do... something; but not as much something as a decanter

As it turns out, the Soiree does indeed seem to aerate the wine... somewhat. For me, the Soiree doesn't compare to actual decanting, which in this experiment I found to be far superior. Still, I think the Soiree could work in a pinch if you are desperate to decant and/or to take the edge off of a serious red, but can't wait for proper decanting (winery tasting rooms come to mind).

It you can get past the sight of a Christmas tree ornament sitting on top of your wine bottle, that is.

(images: 1WineDude.com, drvino.com)


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Joe! Totally sounds like something geeky I'd try, tho I might have included the Vinturi, instead of the Soiree.
Speaking of geeky, is there a bridge in Brandywine Valley?

Robert said...

I was really interested to read your impressions of the Soiree since I just did a similar 4-way blind tasting myself (also included the Vinturi). I'd be really interested to see if you'd choose the same rank order if performing this same tasting blind, since our results didn't necessarily align with what I would have predicted going into it: 2 out of 3 tasters chose the Soiree as their favorite.

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, guys!

Ward - uhm, are you talking about covered bridges?

Bob - interesting approach, I hadn't thought about going the blind route. I'd imagine that the Soiree would show pretty well blind compared to a pour right out of the bottle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the intensive efforts! They are always appreciated.

You are correct aerating wine is key, and what is more important is that readers are encouraged to use whatever method of decanting they can. Whether it be pouring over a seahorse or blowing bubbles in through a straw, wine needs to be stimulated with 02.
But a sad reality is most people do not use their traditional decanters or blow bubbbles etc.

So I agree, the Soiree is great for me, even if I am not in a pinch. And more so, it is great if you don't decant in the first place. Like training wheels for the geek in progress. But I also went to winesoiree.com and checked through their info:

I see that they do claim to be the equivalent of a decanter, but I also see them mentioning their term "Active Decanting" and placing importance on the angle of the pour. Their verbiage mentions something of being equal to 45-60 minutes in a decanter, I think the only thing to surpass three hours in a decanter is 30 minutes in a blender...

And their Active Decanting pitch is interesting. I never heard of it before. If you don't have one a Soiree does work off the first pour, but with every additional pour the wine will continue to open up, actively decanting as it is poured.

And also on the Soiree site, they mention double decanting, which is something that could shave off 1or 2 of those hours in the decanter...

But great job- but you left out the description Wine Bong, my personal favorite!

Joe Roberts said...

Thanks, Anonymous! I'm too lazy to double-decant, personally. Love the wine bong description, by the way! :-)

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