Do you have a nosy Aunt Gladys who rummages through the drawers and cabinets in the bathroom to see what sort of pharmaceuticals she can find?
I do the same thing. I think this might be why no one from the Lab ever invites me over for dinner. That, and the inequality of rank can be so awkward. But I'm not rummaging around in medicine chests looking for your oxycontin or anti-psychotic meds, I'm looking for research opportunities. Bottles of wine for our FINDING FAULT program. I've found wet bars to be ripe territory to mine.
So it was at the condo my parents keep in San Diego. I found a small cache of wine in a cabinet under the sink. And, since no one was paying attention, I "borrowed" two bottles. One red. One white. Or, what appeared to have been white, once upon a time.
The white was a Sauvignon Blanc from famed film/wine-maker Francis Coppola. It was from the 2004 vintage and probably purchased on release. So it's been under the sink for the better part of 3 years.
I sent one of our research assistants down to the local supermarket to buy a bottle of the current release. He came back with an '07. We opened them side by side at the Lab.
The 2007 is pale yellow, almost clear. A nose of pear, grapefruit oil and lime. Less interesting in the mouth. Almost like grapefruit juice, including the bitter aftertaste.
The 2004 is golden yellow, more like an oaky Chardonnay. It is clearly off. It smells like honeydew melon rotting under a warm sun. And rubber bands. And a volatile element not unlike rubbing alcohol.
Because I am devoted, fully committed to the research program at the Lab, I stepped up to the altar of scientific sacrifice and drank some of the rotten juice. Just one of many sacrifices we make every day at Rational Denial.
It is surprisingly less offensive in the mouth. Flat and undifferentiated fruit and a bitter, slightly rancid, finish.
Side by side, it was obvious the wine stored in the often vacant, and so often uncooled and unheated, condo was well into the throes of madeirization. We knew this even before we'd opened the bottle. Sauvignon Blanc is not amber hued. Still, just to see, I put a glass of the cooked wine in the fridge. After a two hour interim, I tasted it again. The offensive nose had closed down significantly, not much to smell. The palate was still dull and flat. It wasn't good. But the flaws were no longer quite so glaring. It tasted more like wine at this point.
In fact, if I had no experience with this wine, and a burly, impatient waiter hovering over my shoulder, I might have hemmed a bit, unsure if it was truly off. I guess that's why they open the bottle at your table?
Next we'll try the same thing with the red. However, it's a mass-produced Merlot, so it may have to wait until we're really desperate at the Lab for something to do (my wine education clearly did not begin at home).