Decanter Letters

August 2015 – Dilution: doubling the pleasure

Professor Herbert requests feedback on watering down high-alcohol reds (July 2015).

I had 6 bottles that were untouched.  Not because they are rare, valuable, or need age, but because they contain 15% alcohol.  I like ‘big’ reds, but found this particular wine (which occasionally crops up in mixed cases) overpowering.  I hadn’t considered watering it down, but with nothing to lose I gave it a try.

Success! The overtly jammy fruits mellowed, and tertiary characteristics emerged.  The length of the finish doubled, marked by smooth fruit as opposed to merely alcohol warmth.

I now effectively have 5 extra bottles in my wine rack, and can tell myself that I am drinking more responsibly because of the lower alcohol level.  Thank You.

Original Version

As a slight insight in to the editing process, I below show my original copy which highlights what was cut in the editing process.  Words they have added are in brackets and words removed are crossed out.

The below is in response to Prof. Herbert’s letter, published in Decanter July 2015

Professor Herbert requests feedback on watering down high-alcohol reds (July 2015)

I have (had) 6 bottles in my wine rack which I’m not touching (that were untouched).  Not because they are rare, valuable, or need ageing, but simply because they contain 15% alcohol.  I like ‘big’ reds, but found this particular wine (which occasionally crops up in mixed cases from my wine club every now and then) overpowering to the point where I wouldn’t drink them, gift them to a casual drinker nor recommend to a wine lover.  I hadn’t considered Prof. Herbert’s idea of ‘watering (it) down’ the wine, but with nothing to lose I gave it a try.

Success! The overtly jammy and short bursting fruits (which then dissipate in to a hollow mid-palate) mellowed, and tertiary characteristics (emerged) came to the fore.  The length of the finish doubled, and was carried marked by smooth fruit as opposed to merely alcohol warmth.

I now effectively have 5 extra bottles in my wine rack, and can tell myself that I am drinking more responsibly because of the lower alcohol level abv.  Thank You.

September 2013 – Still Inspiring after 40 years

I’ve been a Decanter subscriber for many years and have quite a collection of back issues.  I recently picked up a copy of your first issue from 1975 on a popular auction site for the princely sum of £4 (10 times the cover price of 40p – and not the only thing that has gone up tenfold since then!).

We all know that the wine world moves fast, so I was expecting to view the 40-year old content with little more than a mild curiosity.  What struck me was that, (aside from the depressingly cheap prices for the top wines), some things remain true to this day.  Articles about how to drink good Bordeaux without paying too much, celebrities (in this case, Michael Caine) investing in wine, regional profiles, auction news… and Hugh Johnson!  The only thing that seemed absent was the many tasting notes you now include.

A particular highlight was spotting an interesting book review which led me to tracking it down online.  Nearly 40 years after being printed, Decanter is still inspiring, and leading me to learn new things!  I’ll drink to that!

PS: As there is no expiry date on the reader offer for a case of Loire wines for £21.95, can I still send the coupon in to you for redemption?

Editor Replies: Afraid not, but you do win a magnum of Bollinger… (The above letter was chosen as the ‘Letter of the month’)

Original Version

As a slight insight in to the editing process, I below show my original copy which highlights what was cut in the editing process.  Words they have added are in brackets and words removed are crossed out.

I’ve been a (Decanter) subscriber for many years and have quite a collection of back issues in my wine library.  I recently picked up a copy of your very first issue from late 1975 on a popular auction site for the princely sum of £4.00 (Ten times the cover price of 40p, but (and) not the only thing, according to the price guides, that have (has) gone up ten-fold (since then)!).

Now we all know that the (wine) world of wine moves fast, and so I was expecting to view the 40 year old opinions and content with little more than a mild curiosity.  What struck me was that, in some cases (aside of the depressingly cheap prices for (the top wines) top producers and top vintages), some things remain true to this day.  (Articles about) how to drink good Bordeaux without paying too much, celebrities (in this case, Michael Caine) who are putting their money in to (investing in) wine, regional profiles, auction news, and Hugh Johnson!  The only thing that really seemed absent was the numerous tasting notes you now include.

The highlight for me (A particular highlight) was spotting an interesting book review, which led to me hunting it down and purchasing it (to tracking it down) online (it was long since out of print).  I’m now mid-way through and thoroughly glad I took the time to look at your first issue.  Nearly forty years after being printed, Decanter is still inspiring, and leading me to learn new things!

I’ll drink to that!

P.S. – As there is no expiry date on the reader offer for a case of Loire wines for £21.95, can I still send the coupon in to you for redemption?