The following message is intended for those 21+. All opinions expressed are my own. Please enjoy responsibly.
Wine connoisseurs are made, not born. You learn about how to drink, pair, and match wine through doing, and you can make many mistakes before you master the tricks of the trade. However, you might earn the title of wine connoisseur and look like an expert at your next social event by taking these important actions:
Most people know it’s more socially acceptable to arrive at a social function with something to eat or drink than to come empty-handed. If you plan on bringing wine, opt for something high-quality, such as a Napa Valley Winery variety like red, white, or sparkling wine. You may then ensure your choice appeals to a broader range of people and can pair more harmoniously with any food being offered.
It feels natural to pour wine into a glass until it’s near the top, but this doesn’t allow for full enjoyment of your chosen variety. You can enjoy the wine’s authentic flavor and give your wine room to breathe by pouring until your glass is three-quarters full. The extra room in the glass also means you can swirl the wine around without worrying about spills.
Not everyone knows there’s a right and wrong way to hold a wine glass. Hold it incorrectly, and you might be surprised by how much your drinking experience can be impacted. You should always hold your stemmed wine glass by the stem. This hand placement can stop the heat of your hands from changing the temperature of your wine.
However, there can also be a knack for holding stemless wine glasses. Rather than grasping it around the middle, hold it near the base with your thumb and fingers on the glass. The rest of your fingers can support the glass from underneath to limit how much contact your hand makes with your chosen wine.
Just as you would serve coffee or tea when it’s piping hot or ice cold for full enjoyment, you must also consider the temperature of wine before you serve it to enjoy it to the fullest. Believe it or not, temperature is crucial for a satisfactory wine-drinking experience.
As a general rule, you should serve red wine at a slightly cooler temperature than room temperature, between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If white wine is on the menu, it will taste its best when served slightly warmer than your fridge temperature of 49 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Any light-bodied or sparkling white wines typically taste their best when ice cold from 38 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can gain a sense of whether a wine is at its best serving temperature with time and experience. For example, you can typically tell that wine is too warm when the smell of the alcohol content burns your nose. If you’ve stored your red wine in the fridge and it lacks flavor, try warming it up to fix the problem. You can also store unopened wine at cellar temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to help it last longer.
Walk into your local cellar door or liquor store, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. If you’re not usually a wine drinker, you can be at a loss for what to choose. However, if you were to research wine pairings in advance, the decision-making process might be easier.
Knowing the food that will be served at a social event can help you narrow down your options. You can learn that delicate white wines typically pair well with equally delicate food like fish, chicken, salad, and tofu. You might reserve more full-bodied varieties like red wine for lamb, beef dishes, and even risotto.
You’ve mastered how to hold a glass; now you just need to learn how to drink from a glass. While you might gulp a cider, a beer, or a glass of soda, it pays not to do the same for wine. Wine is meant to be sipped, not gulped.
Swirl the wine before sipping it, and let it dance on your palate. Pay close attention to the different textures and flavors. The longer the wine lingers on your tongue, the more you’ll be able to appreciate its acidity, sweetness, and balance.
There’s more to wine tasting than sipping alone. Swirling and sniffing are also important for maximizing your experience with wine. Swirl the wine around in your glass to release its aromas before smelling the wine. As you’re smelling it, see if you notice any particular smells like earthy or mineral notes, spices, fruit, or flowers. Being able to smell the wine before drinking it might enhance your drinking experience while also making you look like a pro in the process!
Just as it can take time to familiarize yourself with wine varieties, it can also take time to become familiar with wine glasses. Not everyone knows that different wine glasses are suitable for different wines.
Wine glasses with U-shaped bowls are typically ideal for wines with multiple layers of flavors and aromas, whereas wine glasses with taller bowls and tapered rims are ideal for tannic wines and those with high alcohol levels. The shape of these glasses rounds out the flavor intensity while highlighting fruit and spice flavors.
You might also pick a wine glass with a mid-sized bowl if you want something suitable for most white, red, and sparkling wines. If you’re a pinot noir drinker, select a glass with a wide bowl and subtly tapered rim. Such a glass can be ideal for softening the tannins and acidity of light-bodied red wine. Any tall tulip or flute-shaped glasses are the perfect option for sparkling wines and champagnes. The narrow shape helps to release the wine’s aromas and flavors.
Enjoying wine like an expert might seem like a far-off reality when you don’t have much experience. However, no one has to know you’re not yet a wine connoisseur. Take some of these actions above at your next social event, and you can look like an old hand in no time.1