Wine is rightly one of man's (+ women's) best friends, and is one of those finer things in life that everyone has access to. As we all should know, price tag doesn't reflect on a wine's quality, however there are other bits of information often forgotten, or overlooked. Whether claiming to be a wine connoisseur, or just a wine enthusiast, here's some tips to take note of:
- Fridgeration and the correct temperature of storage is important.
- "Dryness" shouldn't be a descriptive adjective.
- Your mouth is King.
- Chardonnay is Queen.
- You are Prince. Try to remember your favourites.
- The shape of the wine glasses make a difference.
- A fancy wine opener is not required.
- It's worthwhile understanding Sommelier 'talk'.
We all know that owning a cellar is probably unlikely - though pantries and cellars are becoming more commmonplace as home owners' perks - and therefore room temperature is the state in which most of us has access to. Heat is undoubtedly wine's main annoyance, and should your wine storage have the possibility of direct sunlight, then we'd suggest you reconsider its location. If there is nowhere possible to store your wine selection without potential for its body temperature to increase, then we suggest you store your wine within the fridge.
Did you know that over 85% of wines are dry? When someone is sat at a restaurant - perhaps on a date, wanting to impress their other half - and asks for a "dry" wine, they are simply discounting 15% of wines probably on offer. Wine should instead be described with relation to it's body. With light, medium and full bodied wines on offer, such adjectives narrow the selection down from Pinot Noir and Chablis, to Chardonnay and Syrah, and to Bordeaux and Grenache respectively. As you move through the spectrum, alcohol levels also generally increase and this is a result of the full bodiness of the wine being thicker and richer than the light bodied alternatives. In theory the richer tasting wines include more tannins and should be drier; dryness in itself, however, isn't a very good comparable factor.
Your mouth is, pretty much, King. Your tongue and its surrounding body surfaces can work together to singularly differentiate between wines. Did you know that a wine's acidity is the single factor determining how much you salivate and as such, if you stick your tongue out then this will tell you if the wine is sweet or dry? Tannins are only present in red wine, and these affect your gums' moistness. By simply understanding the origins of your descriptive intuitions will help you decipher which wines you actually like, rather than always trusting your favourite every time, or equally playing pot luck when it comes to deciding.
As helpful as understanding your mouth is, it is good to know that it is widely considered that Chardonnay is the best wine in the world. Despite perhaps having preconceptions about its taste, when you apply the aforementioned techniques then you will soon realise that there really is no better taste in wine. Do not instill rigid beliefs on your wine preferences without at least trying a few, and we bet Chardonnay will probably come up trumps.
To that point, it is always worthwhile having a stockpile of wines at the back of your mind before going out to a restaurant or when standing in a supermarket, to avoid lengthy dinner waitering or supermarket haphazardness. The names of each wine's producers will help you distinguish between wines well, and over time you should develop a kind of roster of favourites - though this isn't to say don't try new wines!
Yes, it is true, the shape of the wine glass does matter. The larger the glass' volume and size, generally the larger opening of the cup-part. As a result, the variance in opening size affects the surface area that oxygen has access to, and in general you should want to minimise this. This is also the reason why it is recommended you seal any bottle after pouring your wine, to conserve oxygen's lack of access to the liquid.
Equally, please please please do not think that to be a wine expert you need expensive wine tools. Bottle openers are bottle openers, and any decent opener should be able to cut the label and remove the cork as well as any other affordable option. Cradle and pumps are also useful, but not always required. We don't want to put the Sommeliers (wine stewards) out of business...
And, with Sommeliers in mind, knowing their talk will always be helpful. Heres a quick run down of their five most widely used terminologies:
- Complex - a wine containing many flavours as it is consumed
- Crisp - a wine that is fresh and often acidic
- Dense - a wine concentrated in both smell and taste
- Elegant - a wine that is overall well balanced and easy to drink
- Flamboyant - a wine that is fruity, and each fruit should in theory be identifiable
Enjoy your next wine, better.
Photography Credit : UnSplash