Be a wine connoisseur...
What's the big deal about wine, anyway? Besides the countless debates, literature, and clubs, wine is nothing more than an alcoholic beverage that goes well with meat. Or is it? Whatever your view may be, the main consensus is that the world of wine has always been daunting. But it doesn't have to be anymore. Here is your personal handbook to becoming a wine connoisseur.
Remember, if you must drink, drink responsibly.
Storing and Serving Wine
Most wines are drunk within 24 to 48 hours of purchase. If that's the case, then a small rack away from heat will do. If you're planning to consume the bottle for a special occasion, or start your own collection, then find a space away from direct sunlight and heat, where the temperate will be constant. The space underneath a stairway is a good place to start. Store the wine on its side, in a case or rack.
Extreme heat will damage the wine by aging it more quickly and blunting the taste. Temperature changes can cause pressure changes within the bottle, loosening the cork and producing air leaks. These leaks will lead to oxidation, turning the liquid brown and giving it a Sherry-like flavour. It's important to store wine properly to get its full effects.
Sparkling wines, dessert wines, and light-bodied white wines need to be chilled to preserve freshness and fruitiness (34 to 50° F will do). Fuller-bodied whites can be served slightly warmer. As for red wines, the lighter the wine, the cooler it should be served. Full-bodied reds are best at cellar temperature (usually 55 to 65° F).
Decanting is the process of separating the wine from the sediment by pouring it into a container. If you want to decant, make sure the bottle is sitting upright for a minimum of 24 hours.
Glasses should hold at least 12 ounces, and champagne flutes should be able to carry 6 ½ ounces or more. Glasses for red table wines are wider than those for white wines. Sherry and port glasses are small, as they are drinks that are sipped. With the exception of sparkling wines, fill the glass no more than half full.
Tasting the Wine
What The Wine is Telling You
- Fill the glass one-third to one-half full.
- Pick up the glass by the stem. Picking it up by the bowl hides the liquid from view, fingerprints can blur the colour, and heat from the hand can alter temperature.
- To look at the hue and clarity, tilt the glass and look through the rim. Clarity is best seen when light is shining sideways through the glass.
- To swirl the wine, rest the base of the glass on the table and hold the stem between the thumb and forefinger. Rotate your wrist, right-handers in a counterclockwise direction, left-handers in a clockwise direction. As the liquid settles back down, a transparent film will appear on the inside of the bowl, falling slowly like tears. The more alcohol content, the more tears.
- Swirling the wine intensifies its aroma. Stick your nose in the bowl and take a big whiff.
- To taste, take in one-third to one-half of an ounce and let it sit in the mouth for ten to fifteen seconds. Roll the wine around your mouth. Purse your lips and inhale gently to accelerate vaporization and intensify the aroma. Slosh the wine around your mouth to draw its flavours.
- After swallowing, exhale gently and slowly through the nose and mouth. The better the wine, the more complex, profound and long-lasting the residual aromas.
The colour reflects the variety of grape(s) used. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon berries are typically smaller with thicker, darker skins than Pinot Noir's ruby grapes. Colour is also linked to growing conditions in the vineyard. Warm summers and dry autumns produce darker colours, while cool summers and rainy harvests produce lighter hues and are less intense in colour. Also, vineyards vary in the way they filter their grape skins. Some prefer to leave them in for longer periods, producing a darker colour. Time in a bottle will also affect the hue and clarity - young wines are full of anthocyanins (found in the grape skin), and will be a deeper colour than older wines, which will create anthocyanin sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
[ What the aromas and tastes are telling you, what the labels are trying to say, wine and food. ]