The latest instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise came out a while ago. Like all excited movie goers waiting to catch this year’s blockbuster, I rushed off to the nearest cinema to watch it before someone spoils the plot. Jurassic World brought me back to the first Jurassic Park I watched 22 years ago when I was still a teenager. It also got me thinking. Dinosaurs have a timeless appeal and in many ways, so do wines. So, if I have to explain wines in dinosaur terms, what will they be like?
[A quick note to palaeontologists, wine professors and anyone who is a fact-ist: I am writing this tongue in cheek to draw parallels between two popular subjects. The purpose is to explain wine simply so that the information is easy to digest. I am not a dinosaur expert nor have the Jurassic World folks endorsed my portrayal of the dinosaurs. I am also fully aware that I am writing about wines in the broad sense here. There are always exceptions to the rule. Please do not feed me to the dinosaurs if you disagree with me.]
Pesky Little fellas
In Jurassic World, the helicopter piloted by businessman Simon Masrani crashed into the aviary and let loose a whole flock of pterosaurs. If I have to describe the characteristics of these bird like dinosaurs, I would say they were numerous, very light weight (the lead actor could wrestle with one), and decidedly short on finish (a pterosaur could be killed with a single shot from a handgun).
In the wine world, pterosaurs are akin to entry level wines. Many large wineries make these for the grocery aisles. With these wines, the idea is to crush the grapes, bottle them and ship them out of the cellar door quickly at a low cost. These are simple light wines with short finish, meant to be consumed early and do not improve with age. Despite what the wine labels say, the grapes used are generally of poorer quality. Thankfully, like pterosaurs, these entry wines also do not cause serious damage (in this case to your wallet). You can find entry level wines retailing in Singapore at below S$20 normally.
Get out of my way, please
This is the star / villain of the movie. Big, fast and cunning with an insatiable urge to knock everything else out of the way, the Indominus Rex is the big bully in the neighbourhood playground. According to the script, the Indominus Rex suffered from a lack of socialising opportunities after it ate its sibling a while back.
The Indominus Rex reminds me of equally big, scary monsters in the wine world… red wines with fully ripened fruit flavours and high alcohol content. These wines come from the warmer wine regions of the world. These regions have a consistently higher temperature band compared to the cooler regions. The drop off from summer to autumn is more gradual and allows grapes to ripen more fully up to harvesting. As alcohol is derived from sugars, riper grapes typically result in a wine that is sweeter with higher alcohol. Examples of vino Indominus Rexes include Barossa Valley shirazes, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons, Stellenbosch reds and Toro wines.
Wines with riper fruit profiles and high alcohol tend to dominate any other wine or food that comes along. With these wines, we need to do some work to help them socialise better. You can open the bottle for an hour before serving. By doing so, you allow the alcohol to “escape” from the bottle and give the wine an opportunity to open up. Serving the wine chilled will make it taste less “hot”. It will also be a good idea not to drink these wines outdoors on a hot afternoon. The surrounding heat will distort the taste.
If properly served, I find vino Indominus Rexes very delicious, pair well with food and have lots of meat in them... which leads on to our last comparison for today.
The true hero of Jurassic World
The Mosasaurus is a gigantic dinosaur that lived in an enlarged fish tank for the viewing pleasure of anyone daring enough to sit close and get splashed. Most times, the shy creature stayed under water while the other dinosaurs played havoc on land. But when it appeared, its power, grace and sense of timing are perfect.
I racked my brain for wines that most resemble the Mosasaurus in these aspects. I think of serious wines, full bodied, kept out of sight and dormant in the cellar for a long time. When a Mosasaurus wine appears at the table, it is often the most amazing wine one can experience. I imagine well aged Rioja and Priorat (Spain), classified Bordeaux and Burgundy (France), and Barolo and Barbaresco (Italy) fit this description perfectly.
With these wines, the different components of flavours, acidity, tannins and alcohol seem disjointed in their youth. However, with enough time, the tannins soften considerably and the alcohol is tempered, and flavours develop more fully in the bottle. There is no fixed time period for a Mosasaurus wine to be at its peak, but such a wine if stored properly will yield to the patient person a hedonistic experience of the highest form when it is ready. Timing is everything to enjoy a Mosasaurus wine. The best way to know if it is going to drink well is to buy a few bottles of the good vintages, and open a bottle to taste once the recommended drinking window is reached. Wine magazines and wineries usually publish the recommended drinking window, or you can ask your trusted wine merchant if you are not sure. The typical lay down period is between 10 and 20 years.
To serve a well aged wine, remember that the cork may be brittle and there may be sediments in the bottle. A filter will come in handy when pouring the contents out. I recommend that you decant the wine for about 30 minutes to get rid of the muskiness that can appear sometimes. You can always air the wine for longer if it still does not open up after 30 minutes. Mosasaurus wines are delicate so you won't want to decant them longer than necessary.
I hope the comparisons are entertaining and useful. What wines will you categorise under the three dinosaurs or perhaps some other dinosaurs that appeared in the movie? Leave me your comments here.
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