How to Look Like a Wine Connoisseur
Wandering down the wine aisle at the store, or staring at the multi-page wine list at a restaurant, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Grapes, blends, locations, DO’s, vintage. What does it all MEAN?!?So many people have told me “oh, I don’t know anything about wine.” Well, as someone who worked briefly in the wine industry, I’ll tell you that most people don’t know much about it at all. And those that do (myself not included) have invested huge amounts of time and possibly money to find their way around a wine cellar. However, there are ways to “fake” that you actually know something, impress your friends, and maybe even not be so intimidated next time you are elected to pick the bottle.
Look, swirl, sniff, sip
Ah, the tasting ritual. Each step really does have a reason for being included, but only after you’ve “looked, swirled, sniffed and sipped” a thousand bottles, and perhaps even recorded your sense reactions to them, will the bottles start to be discernible.
Look. Look at the wine. Hold it over a white piece of paper or cloth. Is it transluscent? Does it look almost black with rich body? This step is probably the least important, but it might give you an idea of what you are about to experience.
Swirl. Try not to spill. You might want to practice with another substance first. This helps to bring out the wine’s bouquet.
Sniff. Stick your nose in the glass and take a big whiff. Now start spouting out words like cinnamom, black cherry, leather or mango to describe what your nose encountered.
Sip. This is the fun part. Take a small sip, let your taste buds play and the wine linger so you can really understand the full taste from beginning to the last lazy flavor.This is the point that if the wine is truly terrible (a “corked” wine) you can tell the waiter at a restaurant that you want something else. I don’t recommend doing this too much. Restaurant folks don’t appreciate patrons taking advantage of them - remember, they have power over your food.
Robot Woman Explains the Wine Tasting Process
Have a number of bouquet and taste describers on hand
Thisgoes along with the tasting ritual, but it’s good to know what the common descriptions are. A few tried and true terms are:
Oak, tannin, cherry, earthy, spicy, mango, leather.... and the list goes on
More Wine Descriptions
- Describing a wine - World Food and Wine
Describing a wine equals to explaining a unique experience. There are some words to write more accurate tasting notes or, at least, to understand better those professional descriptions of wine.
Use the word “varietal”
As in “this grape varietal is particularly earthy”. It’s grammatically wrong. It’s an adjective. But as they say “do as the Romans do”, and the winos do it....
Scoff at those who say corked wine is best
Instead, repeat after me: “stelvan closures are the wave of the future”. Stelvan closures are screw caps. But they eliminate the risk of cork taint, so it’s time to stop seeing screw caps as a mark of a cheap bottle!
Syrah and Shiraz are the same
Syrah is produced in France and the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguayand the US; Shiraz, in Australia, Canadaand South Africa. The difference? The name. The grape “varietal” is the same.There are other names for this grape as well, but these two are most common. The origin of the name split is unknown.
Champagne is a region in France
If you don’t know already, the French are very proud of their region, or “appellation” that produces a delicious sparkling wine.But so are the Spanish proud of their Cava, and Italians of their spumante….and the Germans, the Swiss, the South Africans, the Portuguese, the Americans, etc. Just don’t call it all champagne.
Don’t rinse out your wine glass with water before switching
Proper wine etiquette says that you ideally get a new glass when switching wines, but if there are no glasses available, don’t rinse your glass out with water. Find a towel or just let it drip dry. The water affects the taste of the wine more than a different “varietal”.
Chilean Wine Lauded
- The 2011 Hot List: Chile | Wine Access
With an international focus on wine, food and travel, Wine Access speaks to Canadians at all levels of wine knowledge.
- Wines of Chile Blog Archive Chilean Pride: 2011 Sommelier Wine Award Gold List
- Wines of Chile Blog Archive 2 Chileans Nominated for Wine Enthusiast Star Awards
Ask for a Chilean wine
Recently, Chilean wines have won many awards. Show that you're on the cutting edge by ordering a bottle from Chile.
Hold wine glasses by the stem
Your hands warm the wine past its ideal temperature. For those of us who are a bit coordinationally-challenged, this is more important when it comes to white wines, since they are generally served colder.
An Alternative to Wine Glasses
What is a tannin?
Tannin. It’s a word you will hear over and over again in the wine world. But what exactly is it, and what does it mean for my wine?
Tannins are a family of compounds found in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes. They help to preserve the wine, as well as give body, structure and complexity of flavor to the wine. With a large amount of tannin, the result can be a “tannic wine”, which may make your tongue or back of your mouth pucker a bit. As wines age, the tannins “soften” and they are less harsh on the palate.Red wines tend to have more because they are often made with red or purple grapes, along with their skins and seeds.
Want more information?
- Whats the difference between Tannins and Acidity? at Anti Wine Snob
Bargain Wine Reviews, News and Clues
- A Beginner's Guide to Wine
- Pair Wine With Food Made Easy
A wine list to learn the flavor and pairing of wine with food. Certain wines do pair well with meat dishes and some do with fish dishes. A basic list to learn a little bit about wine.
- Selecting Wine Glasses - How to Select the Right Wine Glasses
Choosing the right wine glass can be almost as confusing as choosing the right wine. But there doesn't have to be any mystery to selecting wine glasses. Here's how to do it.