The slow oxygenation method for opening old wines dimanche, 26 mars 2006

I create this subject as my method for opening old wines has been called the "Audouze method" on the board of Robert Parker. I find it absolutely funny. Here is what I wrote :

I find it absolutely charming to name this method with my name, especially the verb (I tell that to my friends : some of you say “I have Audouzed my wine”, and my friends do not believe that), but I am certainly not the first to have made the experiment.

At this very moment, the actuality is on the judgement and perspectives on 2005 wines. So, I create a new message just to answer to some questions which arose on a recent discussion. I will not create any sensation. There is already a text that is the reference on my method. I do not know where it is. So, this message gives only some precisions answering to questions.

My personal contribution has been to understand that slow oxygenation has a considerably better effect on a wine than decanting. And of course, the older the wine is, the greater the effect is.

Everybody knows that when someone is found in a desert, still living but lacking cruelly of food and water, it is crucially important to feed him extremely slowly. If fed too quickly, he could die.

So, the so-called Audouze method should be called : slow oxygenation method. But as some of you have tried to use it by making innovations, I would be happy that this method would be called : “do nothing method”.

I would be happy that the method would be used in its total purity.

So, the skeleton of this method is :

-         you open a wine 4 to 5 hours before drinking

-         you let it stand

-         you do not touch it anymore

-         when it is time, you pour it in the glasses

-         point.

The more you use it in its simplest way, the more you will check how efficient it is.

I have confused some of you by introducing variations. Let us talk about the variations :

1 – enlarge the surface to give more air : it is better to enlarge the time of opening than to enlarge the surface by drinking a drop of the wine. When the wine smells earth, mud, meat, then enlarge the surface. But if the smell is just shy, let the air play its role.

2 – recork when the smell is very good. You recork with a neutral cork (a cork that smells nothing) only with some millimetres and you do it only when you are afraid that the smell would deteriorate. If the smell of a very old wine is too generous, then you do it (you will do it once out of twenty times or less).

3 – after the slow oxygenation, decant at the last moment : I would not do it as I prefer to never shake the wine by a not necessary operation. The sediment remains at the bottom of the bottle. That’s it.

4 – change the time before opening and service : it is clear that the youngest the wine is the more it will accept a long time. For La Mouline Guigal 1990, you take no risk by opening it 8 to 12 hours before.

A question was raised on champagnes. Generally I do not open champagne before serving. The noise of the opening belongs to the symbols of the rarity of the moment of serving champagne. Anyway, it could be done for very strong champagnes like Krug and Salon which could benefit from 20 minutes of open air. For old champagnes, I would not recommend it.

So, I hope it answers to your questions :

-         for young wines, do what you want, as the differences will be minimal, but I would prefer a young wine opened with slow oxygenation than with decanting : question of smoothness

-         for old wines, use the method in its simplicity

-         if you decide to buy a very expensive wine in a restaurant, I suggest that you buy it before the meal and ask the sommelier to open it four hours before. You will use your money largely better.

Thank you for the interest that you show for the method that I use and which helped to save the life for a great number of wines, which would have been refused and thrown away if this method had not been used.