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To preface, I am very new to wine. I am currently drinking Los Cardos, a 2006 Malbec. When I sniffed the wine with my glass full, I had a hard time picking up, or at least verbalizing, any particular smell. After I finished the glass I put it aside and then smelled the glass again a couple of hours later. Now, the smell I get is entirely different, and very arresting. I get caramel, butterscotch, maybe even butter or popcorn. Very definite smell, completely different from when I first sniffed the wine. I will also say that I tried the wine the next night again and could pick up those smells with the glass full, but I don't know if that's merely my subconscious playing tricks on me.

My question is this: is this an understood phenomena, that of the nose being so much more pronounced as residue in the glass, long after the wine is gone? If so, what is the word for it?
Original Post
The short answer is that what you're experiencing is the molecules of the wine having an opportunity to 'mix' within the glass and give off its' 'bouquet', or aroma.

You mention 'filling' your glass. Unsure of just what you're describing in reality, however you'll want to only fill the lower quarter of your glass (approx.). This will allow you to gently swirl the wine and allow wine/air contact which will further release the aromas of the wine. Don't be shy. Get your nose inside the glass and take in the aromas.

The shape of the glass makes a differance as well. Younger, full reds should be consumed from a differant type glass than an aged red wine, then a chardonney, than a Burgundy or Pinot Noir, etc. Next time you open your Malbec, pour it into a decanter (preferrably wide bottomed) to let it 'breathe'. Gently swirl the wine from time to time and smell the differnces that will take place as it 'opens up'. After an hour or so, pour some into your glass as described above, and go from there. Notice the color, notice the aroma, notice the tast. Take each step one at a time, and enjoy. Let us know what if you notice a difference. Smile

And welcome to the forums. Wink
Originally posted by marcb7:
KSC: What is the rule of thumb for "young" and "old" reds. 5 years? 10 years? Also you describe a different glass for these, what type is best. I basically drink all of our wine out of cab/bordeaux ridel vinum glasses, am I missing out?

Honestly Marcb7, Some of my post above is based on "personal" opinion. However, regarding drinking 'younger, full reds'(Cabs, big Italians, Shiaz, etc.), I drink them from a Schott Zwiesel classic Bordeaux/Cabernet shape, however the glass has exaggerated shoulders and narrow opening to accelerate the swirl and concentrate the nose. The older, 'aged' and subtle/complex reds, I drink from a more traditional Bordeaux/Cab shape glass. Just my preferance. Everyone is differant. These are personal subtleties.

What is the rule of thumb for "young" and "old" reds. 5 years? 10 years?

As a "rule of thumb", 10 yrs (BdM and Barollo) might be 'correct' and another might be 20 yrs (Grand Cru). Earlier than that might be referred to as 'young'. It just depends upon the specific wine and vintage. Which is why you'll hear of one vintage being an 'early drinker'. However this could be another thread itself.
Thanks for the reply, KSC02. Like you mention, I only fill the wine glass with the wine in the bottom, so "full" was a figure of speech.

I'll try your experiment, though I don't have a decanter. Maybe I'll just let the wine sit in my glass for a couple of hours?

Surprised by the caramel/butterscotch smell, and by the intensity of it in the empty glass. Wonder what is happening during vinification to achieve that? My education continues... Smile
I suspect that the wine in the glass simply warmed up a bit and became more evident as it vaporized.

As for decanting, you don't need anything fancy. I usually use a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, then pour the wine back into the bottle (after rinsing it to remove any sediment). This is called "double decanting."

With young wines, such as your 2006 Malbec, there's no need to be gentle -- turn the opened bottle upside down over the container and let it pour as fast as possible. You can then pour it back into he bottle immediately, or let it sit a bit if you wish. That will aerate it and help to bring out its flavors.

With older wines, you want to be gentle. Let the unopened bottle sit upright for 24 hours or more, then carefully open it and pour gently into the container. It's best to have a light source under the bottle so you can observe the wine as it passes through the neck -- a candle is traditional, but I use a small flashlight. Stop pouring when the sediment becomes visible, which should be in just the last ounce or two. Dump the dregs, or save it for yourself (you can run the dregs through a coffee filter or clean paper towel to get out the worst of the gunk). Rinse the bottle well, get it as dry as possible (I just shake it hard), and pour the sediment-free wine back into the bottle.

Older wine usually takes much less airing than new wines and generally should be consumed fairly soon after decanting.
The buttery smell is from di-acetyl, a byproduct of malolactic fermentation. Just about all red wine goes through "malo". A number of factors contribute to the concentration of di-acetyl, but it is tied up in a "reduced" i.e. sulfur influenced environment. As the wine is exposed to oxygen, di-acetyl is freed up.

In a young Malbec that would take a long time in a decanter or your glass. The huge increase in surface area in the wine remaining in an empty glass changes the situation. The caramelized odors are the result of residual sugars oxidizing. I guess the Los Cardos is not 100% dry.

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