TOcrossing Australia, many of us are staying at home right now. While we long for the day when we can gather around a table and open a big bottle of wine, for those in cities that are closed, it could be a while.
In the meantime, you can try an alternative approach to enjoying wine at home: drinking a magnum for several days, as you would boxed wine.
A magnum is twice the size of a normal bottle, with 1.5 liters it contains around 16 glasses of wine. If it’s a quality wine from a reputable producer, once you’ve opened a magnum bottle and poured yourself a glass or two, you can simply re-cork it or better yet stock up on some cheap and versatile wine stoppers. (we use are at home). Once you have properly closed the bottle, simply place the wine in your refrigerator door for another night.
Among wine professionals, magnums are considered to keep wine fresher, because wine ages more slowly in a large bottle. Josh Begbie, manager of Melbourne’s Bar Liberty restaurant and wine bar, feels magnums are underrated. “We often serve magnum wines at Bar Liberty, not just for obvious theatrical reasons, but to see how oxygen interacts with some of our wines,” he says.
“A lot of the wines we serve, especially some that are made without additional sulfur, love a little air and really stand out on the second or third day.”
Olivia Moore, owner of Adelaide’s LOC Wine Bar and Bottle Shop, finds magnums ideal for a home drinking environment. A magnum gives “a broad view of how wine changes over time, which I love.”
During the South Australia shutdown, Moore opened a magnum 2019 Jacopo Stigliano Hiraeth Rosato from Italy. At first, he drank it cold, highlighting the refreshing character of the wine, but then left it at room temperature. When she returned the next day, exhausted from carrying food and wine through Adelaide and ready for a relaxing drink, she found the wine “smoother, fuller, but there were still lots of fresh fruit there.”
Mike Bennie, owner of PNV Wine and Liquor of Sydney, is “a huge fan of seeing the afterlife of a wine through the lens of magnums.” He says that, in magnum format, “wines age more slowly over time due to the lower level of oxygen-wine ratio in the bottle, compared to standard 750 ml bottles.” He adds that magnums can essentially function as house wine, “a drink and don’t think of too many options for drinking wine for a few days.”
A Perth wine professional, Olivia Bunny of Boatshed Wine Loft, agrees that the large size “maintains and prolongs the vitality of a wine for longer after opening.” She has discovered that a large bottle, once opened, “can last more than a week and comes guilt-free, because I don’t need to rationalize opening a bottle when I just want a glass.”
It’s relaxing to know that a perfectly good wine is already open, and that we can have a drink and simply put the bottle back in the fridge for another night. At our house, we also like to open a magnum of white wine, have a glass of it, put it in the refrigerator, and then switch to a red wine, just like you would in a restaurant if you were ordering glass. At home, it is good to find a way to make it stylish.
Magnums are definitely a bit of a niche – the bottles themselves are more expensive and often have to be filled by hand. There is also the fact that shipping is very expensive; For all these reasons, as well as the generally low demand, producers tend not to offer large quantities of magnums at launch. With that said, here are some great magnums from growers who work organically and with minimal intervention to look for right now.
Analog Fiano $ 60
Fiano is a white variety from the Campania region of southern Italy, known for its nutty aromas and citrus and honey flavors. This white wine from the central Victorian Analog winery is spicy and light when you first open it, but becomes textured and flavorful after a while.
2019 White “Cirò” staircase $ 60
This pleasant white wine made with Greco di Tufo comes from Calabria, in southern Italy, and is made by Luigi Scala on his organic estate. If you have never tasted a Calabrian wine, you are not alone, they are not common as exports, but Cirò is the best known wine region there, so it is a great place to start. Enjoy a drink along with some anchovy toasts to start the evening in the best way.
Scintilla Pinot Noir wines 2019 $ 74
Adelaide Hills producer James Madden turned to winemaking after running restaurants and managing wine programs in Melbourne and a harvest internship in southern France. He now works with organic vineyards and zero sulfite additions, making light, fresh wines that stand out with food or on their own. This Pinot Noir has crisp fruit, earthy undertones, and a tart cherry note.
2020 Si Vintners “Baba Yaga” Rosé $ 80
Sarah Morris and Iwo Jakimowicz are Margaret River’s leading organic wine growers. An original blend of Sauvignon Blanc in contact with the skin fermented with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is a surprising approach to rosé that allows notes of wild flowers and a rich palate to shine through.
Amphora Bodega Jardín “Rosé Wine” 2019 $ 88
In Italy, “rosato” is a darker and tastier style of rosé wine. This one from a Campagnia winery based in high-rise vineyards with local grapes is made in a clay pot called an amphora (amphora in Italian). It’s tart and refreshing with just a tannin kiss, and pairs easily with a weekday roast chicken.
2017 Pierre Cotton Brouilly $ 122
The French appellation “Brouilly” is one of the 10 acclaimed hills in the Beaujolais region where the remarkable Gamay wine worth aging is made. Pierre Cotton is a young and rising star in Beaujolais, known for producing juicy and aromatic wines that are packed with red and black fruit flavors.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism