I received a copy of Modernist Cuisine for Christmas. First of all let me just say these books are incredible. The span of topics covered is amazing, although they don’t actually bother to have any recipes for cooking meat that don’t use sous vide (I think because they decided once you can cook sous vide you wouldn’t ever try anything else). Ok, the preceding is a slight exaggeration, there are some smoking and searing involved, but even there sous vide is always a step too.
So one of the first experiments was they had a wine suggestion. Wine stores are filled with all these gadgets to aerate wine with various venturi and other contraptions. Now I’ve known for a long time that sometimes you want to open a bottle of wine hours or even days before its going to be at its peak, especially for some young tannic wines, but I’ve never messed with these devices that are supposed to speed up the process.
So when the Modernist Cuisine book recommended putting the wine in a blender I had to try it. The claim is that just putting the wine in a blender aerates the wine more efficiently than any of the fancy devices. A friend had brought over a bottle of Nickel and Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot 2007 and it seemed like a good candidate. We opened the bottle and blended half. An assistant poured a taste of the blended wine into 4 glasses and an equal size pour from the bottle into 4 other classes. The glasses were marked but we didn’t know which one was wish so this was a true blind tasting (although it wasn’t the “triangle” tasting that was recommended.
The two wines were distinctly different. One was closed, tannic, had little nose and wasn’t showing much fruit. The other was lush, with great fruit, nice balance, and a long finish. We didn’t have 10 judges but all 4 of us had the same reaction and everyone guessed that the lush one was the blended one. Turns out we were all wrong- the blended one was the one that was closed. So overall I’d call this approach a failure, although I do have two reasons I want to follow up some time. The first is that the wine while it had plenty of structure was actually drinking nicely just out of the bottle anyway, so maybe we needed to start with something even bigger and more closed. The second is its possible we didn’t wait long enough after blending.