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Adding sugar to wine?


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#1 Starkman

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 04:42 PM

So, there it was, one approximate glass of Bicycletta (I think that's spelled correctly) Pinot Noir left in the bottle from about three days ago. I took it out ofthe fridge, let it come to almost room temp, tried it, and...not bad (it held ok), but I added juuuuuust a pinch of sugar, and...VIOL..VOIL...however you spell that word! It made a world of difference: cut the slight vinegar taste, enhanced the wine.

So, did I commit the impardonable sin, or have others done this?

Thanks,

Starkman

Edited by Starkman, 25 February 2009 - 04:42 PM.


#2 suzilightning

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 05:01 PM

not sugar but ice. hey, darlin' if it works for you do it. and eff 'em.
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#3 andiesenji

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 05:19 PM

If it tastes good to you, where is the harm? Some people are implacable purists who might say it is virtually a crime, but you are the one drinking it.

I have a couple of friends who love wine and he prefers very dry reds. His wife likes a sweeter wine but also prefers not to waste money opening two different bottles. Some time ago she discovered the sweet raspberry wine at Trader Joe's and keeps a bottle on hand to "season" her glass of the red wine poured from her husband's bottle. It works for them and she is not ashamed to offer "doctored" wine to guests who have similar tastes to hers.

Edited by andiesenji, 25 February 2009 - 05:20 PM.

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#4 Tussius

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 07:21 PM

So, there it was, one approximate glass of Bicycletta (I think that's spelled correctly) Pinot Noir left in the bottle from about three days ago. I took it out ofthe fridge, let it come to almost room temp, tried it, and...not bad (it held ok), but I added juuuuuust a pinch of sugar, and...VIOL..VOIL...however you spell that word! It made a world of difference: cut the slight vinegar taste, enhanced the wine.

So, did I commit the impardonable sin, or have others done this?


I don't know this wine, but if it's Italian I'm assuming it's bicicletta which means bicycle.

In my opinion this is absurd. To me it's like putting ketchup on a San Daniele prosciutto. It doesn't make sense to me as it's about taking a product of someone who cares and loves for it and dominating the taste with something entirely different. That's how I judge it for myself.

For you; who am to judge? You're drinking it, why should I care whether or not you change it's character? Why is this different from a red wine sauce?

I still won't do it, but I can't bring myself to judge others based on what I think I should do.
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#5 OliverB

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:41 PM

If I like something I don't really care much if it's "OK", as long as I don't hurt anybody.

Come to think of it, wine in the long ago past was almost always spiced in one way or an other and adding something to your wine is really not all that different from adding some of your wine to food....

Just sit back and enjoy!
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#6 Lilija

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:44 PM

If it tastes better, go for it. If I want to finish a bottle of wine that doesn't -do it- for me, I mull it. Same idea, different execution.

#7 theisenm85

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 09:23 PM

For wine that's 3 days old and exposed to oxygen?

Definitely not an issue.

For me, adding sugar to fresh wine unless it's to make a specific drink.... probably not something I'd do.

However... who cares? It's up to you! Put butter and mustard in there if it makes it better for your palate.

#8 petite tête de chou

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 09:44 PM

I agree with the others. If it pleases you, wonderful. I have added sugar and honey to mildly oxidized wine before (on separate occasions) and it saved the remainder of those wines from being poured out. Yes, I could've corked or frozen them for future use in sauces but I wanted to *drink* the wines not save them.
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#9 OliverB

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 10:27 PM

since I just came across it, the last recipe, # 5012, in Escoffier's guide to the art of modern cooking:

Vin a la Francaise:
place 259g sugar in a basin and sprinkle with a view tablespoons of water to disslove it. Add 1 bottle of good Claret or Burgundy wine and half a lemon cut into thing slices and so on.......



so, even in the regard of the bible of fine French cooking (what, almost 100 years old now?), you're fine :-)

Enjoy!

And I might just try this myself next time we have some left over wine. (probably around 2134 or so ;-)
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#10 andiesenji

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 10:54 PM

I emailed my friend Karla (the one with the husband who is a wine collector) and she sent this link back to me:
Watered wine

She added that after her husband had bypass surgery his doctors said he could only drink wine if it was diluted but that if it helped him get through his recovery (and stimulated his poor appetite) it would be beneficial.

They have more than 2500 bottles in their "cellar" and have several purchased cases stored for them in various California wineries.
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#11 Rebecca263

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 01:00 AM

Someone gave me a 2003 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon by Ella Valley Vineyard a few weeks ago. I drank it last week and found it a bit TOO dry and oaky. And it's not a cheap wine, either! AND I usually ADORE Cabernet! I put sugar AND seltzer in it. Quel horror, I know. Lucky me, I'm not snooty in the least. I like things for their taste, not their reputation, or mine- as many can attest. :raz:
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#12 tim

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 07:23 AM

HI,

Some people add sugar (infused in distilled fruit juices) to champagne.

My favorite was the order for Grey Goose and Coca-Cola at an NFL football game. I guess it's better than Talisker and Ginger Ale.

Tim

#13 andiesenji

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 08:57 AM

HI,

Some people add sugar (infused in distilled fruit juices) to champagne. 

My favorite was the order for Grey Goose and Coca-Cola at an NFL football game.  I guess it's better than Talisker and Ginger Ale.

Tim

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This takes me back some fifty years to my mother (a wine snob if there ever was one) nearly fainting when one of her bridge club friends dropped a sugar cube into a glass of Tattinger '48, at my folk's anniversary party. The poor lady simply didn't care much for champagne and for her the sugar made it drinkable.
The only reason the incident sticks in my memory is because my mother went on and on about it at breakfast the next morning to the point that my stepdad left early to go to his office.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#14 Starkman

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:19 PM

Such great input. Thanks!

The Red Bicyclette (www.redbicyclette.com/) 2006 (or 2007, I can't remember) Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays, to which I added the sugar is from France It was only about $8.99. I was very pleased with the wine, but after three days it was oxidizing rapidly. The sugar (just a pinch) really balanced things out enough to make the last glass enjoyable to drink.

(Pssst! You wanna here something even more astounding? After finishing the bottle, I went to the store and picked up a jug of Carlo Rossi Paisano. And... it was, well, not offensive, and reasonably enjoyable. For five bucks? Shoot, I ain't proud! Not to mention, I'm out of a job as well.)

Thanks again for the comments, and I'm glad I'm in good company!

Starkman

#15 Chris Hennes

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:25 PM

Some people add sugar (infused in distilled fruit juices) to champagne. 

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Worse still, some even have the gall to add a sugar cube and BITTERS!!

Nothing wrong with a champagne cocktail, IMO. And ya may as well use the good stuff.

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#16 thomasdavis81

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 05:51 PM

i just finish the bottle when i open it

#17 Busboy

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 07:42 PM

I figured that this wasn't a bottle of $50 Cabernet if it was left corked in the fridge for three days. Go for it.

I once read an article which suggested that wealthy Asians -- not a wine culture but one with plenty of new rich folks showing off (as rich people everywhere will) --were ordering $300 Bordeaux and mixing with adulterants like coca-cola. They didn't really like the wine, but it impressed their guests when they ordered it (I've heard that the same thing used to happen at New York Steakhouses, but at least the show-offs didn't mix their Screaming Eagle with coke).

I was outraged! Not so much at the gaucherie of the diners, though, so much as the fact that their cumulative demand was pushing once occasionally-affordable wines into the "never again" category. And they didn't even like the stuff!

On the other hand, with red Bicyclette, do what you will. They'll make more.

An aside: RB is made in the Languedoc, where the decrease of French wine consumption and the increased production of cheap wines in the New World is driving growers out of business in vast numbers. It's not a wine to brag about drinking -- though I've bought it from the bodega around the corner more than once, as being a decent quaff for $7.99 -- but it's considered a huge breakthrough by the French locals who are earning a decent living from their grapes and you're contributing a bit towards saving a genuinely cool way of life.

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#18 Larry McGourty

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 01:31 PM

It really depends upon how you view wine. Is is a social drink, or served with food?

We like wine with food, so the more spare acidic European styles work better for us. Things are slowly changing, but by and large a New World wine drinker, particularly a younger millennial-next, is more likely to go out wine tasting with friends, or have a party where wine is served rather than to cook a formal wine-dinner for friends. These bigger fruity low acidity wines are better to suited that kind of serving than the more spare and acidic European style.

Now if you primarily like wine with food like we do, and most of your entertaining is dinner parties, the European style is better suited for that service. The lower alcohol and higher acidity work much better with food.

I am not too surprised about the Asian wine drinkers adulterating the wine - Asian food is NOT a good match with a Bordeaux --what grows together goes together.
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#19 Busboy

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 01:49 PM

I am not too surprised about the Asian wine drinkers adulterating the wine - Asian food is NOT a good match with a Bordeaux --what grows together goes together.

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Though, a decent Alsatian can be a fine match for Vietnamese curry.... :wink:
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#20 MaxH

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 08:38 AM

Shallow or snobbish rules about things being "OK" are a helpful telltale of limited knowledge of the subject. ("Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.") Having been pestered by such people, a good friend still apologizes when she puts an ice cube in ordinary white wine in the summer.

Now, I believe it's wasteful and sad to miss out on an outstanding wine by mucking around with it.

But, many wines don't fit that description, and some have been mucked with more already by the manufacturer than most consumers can do if they wanted to. A very benevolent example: As you probably know, most Champagne is sweetened (with fruit sugar) to adjust sweet-acid balance; otherwise it's the totally dry type called Natur or Natural, which doesn't sell much and can be less appealing in blind tastes. Also, in countries that drink on average eight to 12 times as much wine per capita as the United States, knowledgeable people routinely mix ordinary wines with soda water, fruit juices, etc. (though I've never heard of them using Coca-Cola), where a US newcomer to wines might blanch at the idea of anything violating the sacrosanct beverage, even a cheap one. "It's not OK!" Ptui.

Edited by MaxH, 05 March 2009 - 09:04 AM.


#21 naguere

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 09:35 AM

Read a book years ago about pre WW11 Europe where the authors father would put a tray with a bottle of red wine on his desk when salesmen came visiting, along with a spoon and a bowl of sugar, 'sweeten to taste'
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#22 Starkman

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 05:14 PM

It really depends upon how you view wine. Is is a social drink, or served with food?

We like wine with food, so the more spare acidic European styles work better for us. Things are slowly changing, but by and large a New World wine drinker, particularly a  younger millennial-next,  is more likely to go out wine tasting with friends, or have a party where wine is served rather than to cook a formal wine-dinner for friends. These bigger fruity low acidity wines are better to suited that kind of serving than the more spare and acidic European style.

Now if you primarily like wine with food like we do, and most of your entertaining is dinner parties, the European style is better suited for that service.  The lower alcohol and higher acidity work much better with food.

I am not too surprised about the Asian wine drinkers adulterating the wine - Asian food is NOT a good match with a Bordeaux --what grows together goes together.

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Hello Larry,

Say, I accidentally stumbled across The Romantic Table website (Risotto Cookoff link), which in your blog you noted this very thread. I commented in the blog entry, noting that the vinegar taste of the few-days-opened French Pinot Noir was not the normal and acceptable acidity (be it low or high) found in wine, but oxydation that had taken place, something that was begining to ruin the wine. The wine, however, was salvagable by cutting that vinegar taste with just a pinch of sugar. The wine didn't become sweeter per se, but did level out the vinegar taste and made for a few more glasses of enjoyable wine.

I understand that there are wines out there that are made to be acidic for acidity's sake, but that wouldn't go well for me. Otherwise, acidity can, and should, be wonderful in wine.

Thanks,

Starkman

#23 Larry McGourty

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 11:18 PM

Hi Starkman,

Thanks for reading --and thanks for starting the thread. It is an interesting ongoing debate about the American predisposition to sweeter, less acidic wines. As I mentioned in the blog there is some truth to it, but only while we develop as a nation of wine drinkers with a corresponding culinary tradition to go along with it.

I am really encouraged about the California Central Coast's wine and food direction, and of course the forums like egullet.

Regards,
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#24 piazzola

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:26 AM

Three day old wine? How did you manage to keep it for that long?
Sugar! never occurred to me but my Mum used to give me flamed red wine with sugar as a cough syrup when I had a cold.

#25 Starkman

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:01 PM

Three day old wine? How did you manage to keep it for that long?
Sugar! never occurred to me but my Mum used to give me flamed red wine with sugar as a cough syrup when I had a cold.

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Well, there's just one of me and no one else! I can't drink the whole bottle, for pete's sake (well, I can, but what a headache I'd have in the morning), so it's into the fridge until the next evening or so.

Starkman

#26 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:53 PM

If you can't drink the whole bottle, transfer the remainder to a clean empty half bottle (375ml) and recork it. Or even a well cleaned and rinsed out Snapple bottle with the screw cap functions well for keeping left over wine. Limiting the amount of oxygen that the wine comes into contact with should be the most helpful in making it last longer. Refrigerating it helps too, just let the reds come to a cool room temperature before you drink them. Storing them upside down so the air pocket is at the closed end of the container helps too. I'd rather do any of that than add sugar.

Mostly, just drink as soon as you're able. Oxygen is the enemy of opened wine...

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#27 Starkman

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 04:46 PM

Storing them upside down so the air pocket is at the closed end of the container helps too.


Ah, yes, a smaller bottle, Katie. I forgot about that. However, I'm perplexed about your statement. Storing the bottle upside down (I'm assuming you mean storing the bottle on its lid) would put the air pocket at the base of the bottle, not the closed end. Did I misunderstand you?

Thanks,

Starkman

#28 Don Giovanni

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 05:39 PM

I love it...you did just what any intelligent person would do ...you made it to your liking...no wine police as of yet, so your safe...really have drink what you want and how you want...Cheers !!!

#29 KatieLoeb

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 08:41 PM

Storing them upside down so the air pocket is at the closed end of the container helps too.


Ah, yes, a smaller bottle, Katie. I forgot about that. However, I'm perplexed about your statement. Storing the bottle upside down (I'm assuming you mean storing the bottle on its lid) would put the air pocket at the base of the bottle, not the closed end. Did I misunderstand you?

Thanks,

Starkman

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Yes - air pocket at the base where there are no miniscule cracks or porous cork for yet more oxygen exchange to take place. Works pretty well in the door of the fridge, or propped up with other groceries. Not a perfect solution, but extends life by a day or so. Hopefully "leftover" wine doesn't lay around any longer than that. If it will, best to freeze and use for sauces, I'd think.

Really, the solution is to always keep wine in the smallest container that will hold the volume with the least amount of air in the bottle, just like an unopened bottle.

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#30 Starkman

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 09:41 PM

Yes - air pocket at the base where there are no miniscule cracks or porous cork for yet more oxygen exchange to take place.  Works pretty well in the door of the fridge, or propped up with other groceries.  Not a perfect solution, but extends life by a day or so.  Hopefully "leftover" wine doesn't lay around any longer than that.  If it will, best to freeze and use for sauces, I'd think.

Really, the solution is to always keep wine in the smallest container that will hold the volume with the least amount of air in the bottle, just like an unopened bottle.

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Thanks for the info.

Starkman