So you’re getting to that age where you’re acquired a taste for wine, maybe almost too frequently, and have made sipping a glass your nightly ritual for relaxation after a long day of work. There is nothing wrong with that; there actually may be more right if you’ve read the endless studies proving red wine is good for your heart. I’ll cheers to that. But maybe you want to know how you decipher a good blend from a bad, and more importantly how you can impress your friends with some wine knowledge.
Well, here are a few tips to look like a pro the next time you’re at a restaurant and someone wants to order a bottle of wine, or you’re standing in the grocery store in an aisle of chaos, confused about choosing anything that doesn’t have a cool label.
Tip 1: It doesn’t have to be expensive and/or old to be good.
A pricer wine, doesn’t necessarily mean it tastes better, or gets you more drunk. And an older wine doesn’t mean it has better flavor. Know what you want to spend and find something reasonable in that range. Restaurants almost double the price of a bottle you would find in the store so know that ahead of time. And if you’re in the store, price range works from the bottom shelf up, lowest price to highest.
Tip 2: It’s all about the region.
If you like to buy local ask the wine specialist about nearby vintages and recommendations. If you tell them the price you are looking to spend and have an idea of the area you like, they are sure to help narrow it down. Don’t care about a specific region? If you know that you want specifically a chardonnay or cabernet, ask or look up what regions specialize in and then choose.
Tip 3: Pairing Properly
If you’re looking to pair wine with food here is the gist of it:
Chardonnays go well with poultry, pasta, buttery dishes, and mushrooms.
Sauvignon Blancs match with first courses and ethnic dishes, spicy foods, veggies, and salads.
Cabernets pair with beef, pork, gamey meats, and cheeses.
Merlots go also with beef, lamb, pizza, pastas.
Pinot Noirs are delectable with lamb, turkey, and beef.
There are a number of blends, (ex. cab and merlot blends) so this is where you may get confused but again, it’s never a bad idea to ask for recommendations.
Tip 4: Swirl. Sniff. Sip.
Once you’ve made your selection, pop the bottle and let sit at least a few minutes. If the server pours a sample right away so you can taste, swirl around the glass (the legs— what drips on the inside of the glass, means higher alcohol content). Sniff and smell the flavors, which will enhance the taste, then sip and take in the taste from the first touch on the tongue to after-taste. More likely than not, you will say it’s good (because you don’t know the difference), but if the cork broke during uncorking, or the taste is super bitter or stays with you a minute or so after you’ve tasted, the wine may be too old or have gone bad. Remember, you are drinking fermented grapes after all. At any rate, these few tips, will put you on the up and up in front of peeps you are trying to impress.
Swirl your glass, sip, and enjoy!