As delicious as it can be, wine can also be a pain in the ass. There are books and books and blogs and blogs written on the subject, and there’s still more that could be written about it forever and ever and it will not ever stop EVER. There are also tons of myths and misconceptions out there about wine that have been around for ages and show no signs of leaving. It is exhausting, to say the least. However, the good news is that you do not need to know ALL of the truths and myths to drink and enjoy wine. Hurray! So in the interest of helping you enjoy wine without all of the reading and studying like some nerd playing cello/World of Warcraft all day, here are seven quick tips to take some of the mystique out of drinking wine and keep you from looking like a no-nothing toolbag.
1. Don’t Sniff the Cork – That’s not why they give it to you. The only reason to look at a cork is to check for mold or rot. Inspect it for those ailments, and discard if you find them, but otherwise leave it on the table and away from your face.
2. Never Order the Second-Cheapest Bottle on the Menu – It’s a fool’s game. The restaurant knows you don’t want to look cheap and won’t want to buy the cheapest bottle on the menu, so they put a crappier bottle in the SECOND to last place to make more money off your cheap ass. If you’re not going to buy from the upper echelons, go with the cheapest listed, it’s the best buy.
3. “Legs” are Meaningless in Terms of Quality – Fools will claim the “legs” of a wine (the trailing streaks that form down the side of a glass after swirling) are in direct correlation to the quality of said wine. Horseshit. Legs merely have to do with the viscosity and the alcohol-to-water ratio in the wine, and in no way have anything to do with how it tastes. Disregard and enjoy at will.
4. There’s Nothing Wrong With Twist-Caps or Other Alternative Bottle Stoppers – In fact, they’re probably better for your wine than traditional corks. Stop clinging to tradition and embrace the new technology. You do it in every other facet of your life, why not your wine?
5. You’re Serving Your Red Wine Too Warm – The “room temperature” that red wine is supposed to be served at isn’t the 70-something degrees you keep your house. It’s meant to be the temperature of a wine cellar, which is more like 65-55 degrees. Chill your red wines for 30 minutes before serving for better results.
6. You’re Serving Your White Wine Too Cold – By the same token, white wines aren’t meant to be served just above freezing temperatures. You’re missing all the flavor when it’s that cold. When serving, leave white wines out for 30 minutes to warm to the 45-50 degrees they’re meant to be served at.
7 “Tasting” and “Enjoying” Are Often Two Different Things – Tasting wine can be a very in depth and heady undertaking. However, don’t confuse it with enjoyment of a wine. The same vino you spent time swishing about in your mouth and pontificating about for your tasting notebook may not be appropriate when serving a meal for some friends. In that case, default to an enjoyable wine that requires no thought and let the good times flow. Drinking is supposed to be fun!
Like I said, there’s more to be said about wine than I could ever sum up here, but these are a few quick tips to keep you from looking stupid or like the grown-up who still believes in Santa Claus. These myths won’t go away unless WE stop them.