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Your Questions

Q

I was recently at a restaurant where heated tongs were used to open a bottle of old Port. The wine was then decanted and served at quite a cool temperature. Should I be decanting my Ports at home, and at what temperature should I serve them?

Julie Brown, Myrtle Bank, SA

Vintage Ports that have been cellared for an extended time usually throw a heavy sediment. With venerable and maybe crumbly corks, using a corkscrew or even an Ah-So cork puller could cause the cork to disintegrate. Port tongs ensure the neck and cork are removed cleanly.

Decanting allows the wine to be drawn off the sediment, so stand the bottle up for at least 48 hours to allow the sediment to settle and then decant carefully. Port bottles are made of very dark glass so you may need a torch or light shining up into the neck to judge when the sediment starts to move towards the decanter.

Late Bottled Vintage (unless unfiltered), ruby and tawny Ports don’t usually throw a sediment, though in my opinion the wines always look better served from a decanter.

Mature wines, like Port, are often best served cool, at the same temperature as that you might serve a fine red wine at (15°C to 18°C).

Q

I have recently purchased a Coravin system. Once a bottle under cork has been half used, even if it is still stored on its side, the wine no longer keeps the cork damp. Is this a problem? How long can I keep a half-drunk bottle of wine?

Greg Johnson, Mona Vale, NSW

Coravin suggest you can keep bottles up to three years from the date the first glass is withdrawn, but feedback from users is that it depends on how fastidious one is when using the machine. Measures such as regular cleaning of the needle and making sure you penetrate the cork at different entry points each time help with the effectiveness of the system. I’d be tempted to store any opened bottle with the punt higher than the neck to ensure the wine was fully in contact with the cork and at a cool temperature as this will help slow down the rate of evolution.

Q

I’ve recently installed a cellar at my home, and I would appreciate your advice on dealing with humidity. The temperature of the cellar is consistently between 16-18°C, but the humidity is closer to 90%. Is this something I should be concerned about, and would you suggest I purchase a dehumidifier?

Michael Maguire, Roseville, NSW

Humidity isn’t a problem for closures; corks enjoy being in an atmosphere that prevents them from drying out and losing effectiveness and screwcaps won’t rust. But wine labels could disintegrate if stored long term (which may affect resale value if you put them into the secondary market). If this is a concern you could try shrink wrapping the bottles in plastic food wrap. If it isn’t and you don’t mind the labels becoming faded then just use plastic neck tags to identify the name/vintage etc.

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