12 Essential Tips On How To Drink Wine
Get ready to discover how to open, serve, and drink elegantly with these 12 tips on drinking wine.
1. Study Your Wine Bottle
Before actually drinking any wine, you should first study the wine bottle.
Wine bottles come with either screw caps or corks. If you have a cork on your bottle, check if it has any damage.
- A bulging cork: This is indicative of heat damage or an incorrectly sealed bottle.
- A stuck cork: The wine may not have had enough oxygen, which can affect its flavor.
- A soaked cork: When you open a bottle of red wine, check how saturated the cork is. Ideally, the cork should be lightly colored from the wine. If the cork is soaked, the wine might have spoiled. A crumbling cork for any type of wine is also a good indication of spoilage.
Also, study the label on your wine bottle. For example, based on the country of origin, you can find out if your bottle of red wine is light-bodied (usually from colder regions like Germany and Northern France) or full-bodied (from warm regions like Napa Valley and Spain.)
2. Open The Wine Bottle
Here’s how you go about opening wine bottles:
A. Opening Corked White And Red Wine
To open a wine bottle with a cork, you’ll need the right tools:
- The waiter’s friend (or wine key): This device has a worm, a handle, a hinged fulcrum, and, sometimes, a knife. Most wine keys have a double hinge, so you can pull the cork out halfway, then reset the fulcrum on the bottle’s lip to pull it out completely.
- A knife: You can use a knife to cut and remove the foil wrapped around the bottle.
- A corkscrew: Corkscrews come in different shapes, sizes, and price points. They usually have a metal spiral with a sharp tip, called a worm. With it, you can twist into the cork and pull it out.
B. Opening A Bottle Of Sparkling Wine
Opening a bottle of sparkling wine is a slightly different ballgame as it’s bottled with pressurized carbon dioxide. So if you don’t open it properly, the cork can shoot out and cause injuries and damages.
Here’s how to uncork a bottle of sparkling wine easily:
- Cut and remove the foil around the neck of the bottle and loosen the metal cage. Firmly grip the cage with your thumb securely over the cork.
- Using your other hand, start twisting the bottom of the bottle until you feel the cork releasing. Then gently ease the cork out.
3. Use The Right Type of Wine Glass
Picking the right wine glass for the different wine styles can significantly improve your wine drinking experience. Here’s what to look for:
- Red Wine Glass: Drinking red wine is best done in a wine glass that has a wide rim and a bigger bowl. Merlot, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, and some Pinot Noir wines have high tannin content. So the bigger breathing area of the red wine glass allows for a better taste and aroma.
- White Wine Glass: A white wine glass is smaller than a red wine glass. Its U-shape keeps the wine cold for a longer time.
Dry wine like Sauvignon Blanc is best drunk from a wine glass with a slightly thin rim to allow the wine to hit your mid-palate. On the other hand, Chardonnay needs a wider bowl and narrow rim so you can truly enjoy the acidity and fruitiness of the wine.
- Rosé Wine Glass: Drink a young rose wine from a wine glass with a wide lip and long stem. More mature rose wine is best served in a shorter glass with a small bowl to enhance its aroma.
- Sparkling Wine Glass: The sparkling wine or Champagne glass has a tall, narrow bowl with a short or medium-sized stem. This type of wine glass will preserve the bubbles of your sparkling wine for longer.
4. Serve At The Proper Temperature
Another important factor to consider is serving wine at the right temperature:
- Red wine: Serve most red wines between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. To chill, pop your red wine into an ice bucket or freezer for 10 minutes before drinking.
- White wine: Chill your white wines to about 41-48 degrees Fahrenheit. You can store white wine in a wine fridge (or regular refrigerator) and take it out 20 minutes before serving.
5. Pour The Right Amount Of Wine
Filling a wine glass to the brim can lead to poor wine tasting. On the other hand, pouring too little wine can result in over-oxygenated wine that can negatively affect the flavor and aroma profile.
Here’s how you should serve your favorite wines:
- Red wine: Pour half a glass or about four ounces of red wine.
- White wine: Pour your wine one-third full or approximately three ounces.
- Champagne: Fill no more than two-thirds of the glass or approximately 5 ounces.
6. Decant Or Swirl Your Wine
Most red wine styles benefit from decanting, but other wine types can also be decanted for a short period.
To decant, pour the wine from the bottle into a decanter and allow it to aerate.
Decanting your wine will enhance the wine’s aroma and flavor that would otherwise remain concealed. Decanting is also a great way to remove sulfites and sediment in older red wine vintages, improving the wine taste.
If you don’t have a decanter, you can gently swirl the glass to aerate the wine before drinking.
7. Hold Your Glass Right
Glassware etiquette is also an essential element of the whole wine drinking experience.
You should hold your wine glass by the stem, so the warmth from your hand doesn’t transfer to the wine.
To have a stable grip, just place your thumb, middle finger, and index finger on the wine glass stem while gently resting your other fingers on the base.
8. Take In The Aroma
While you’re swirling your white or red wine in the glass, enjoy the wine’s aroma and note the different scents.
As the wine unfolds, you will be able to detect different nuances of the aromas. The more complex the wine, the more there is to discover.
9. Sip The Wine
Now it’s time to drink your glass of wine. Take your time when tasting wine and note the array of flavor notes.
To drink the wine, take a small sip and swirl the wine in your mouth, so you can fully absorb the flavor with your taste buds.
You can hold the wine for about five seconds, then swallow, and savor the aftertaste. Fine wines linger on the palate for longer. This is especially true when drinking red wine.
If you’re at a formal wine tasting event, you may have to spit it out into the spittoons provided.
At a tasting, you generally try a few wines and sipping on each of them might get you tipsy, preventing you from properly analyzing the taste of each wine.
10. Food Pairing With Your Wine
Tickle your taste buds with the right food and wine pairing.
- Sparkling wine: Champagne and other types of sparkling wine go well with fried dishes like fish and chips and fried chicken.
- White wine: Crisp white wine like Chardonnay goes well with cream sauces and seafood.
- Red wine: Drink red wine like Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon with red meat and Pinot Noir with salmon.
- Rose wine: A dry rose goes well with dishes that are cheesy and rich.
- Sweet wine or dessert wine: These types of wine are best served with cheese or fruity desserts.
11. Enjoy The Experience
Wouldn’t it be amazing to identify the wine’s many flavor nuances, grape varietals, region and more from just a sip or two?
But, unless that’s what you’re hoping to achieve, wine drinking doesn’t have to be so technical.
You can drink wine to savor the flavors, appreciate the nuances, or better understand the characteristics of the wine grapes.
The goal is that you enjoy the wine in your own way!
12. Train Your Nose And Palate
To enjoy drinking wine to the fullest, you need to develop your palate.
Smell fruit and vegetables, perfumes, books and other aromas. Taste food that’s sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. The more you smell and taste, the more you’ll develop your taste buds and nose sensitivity.
You can also memorize the different flavor nuances by linking them to a specific memory.
Knowing the essentials of how to drink wine is one part. Equally important is knowing how to choose the right wine to drink!
Let’s see how you can easily choose a good wine bottle.
How to Choose The Right Wine
The world of wine is vast and can seem intimidating for a beginner wine drinker.
Whether you’re a first-time wine drinker or a seasoned one, here are the best ways to choose a great wine:
1. Pick The Right Wine For Your Taste
There are various wine styles and flavors, ranging from dry wine to sweet wine. Here’s a little more information on the main types of wine:
A. Red Wine
Red wine gets its hue and tannin texture from the fermentation process during winemaking.
Red wine with high acidity and high tannin levels is likely to age well (about 20 years.) Some famous red wines that age well are French wine like Burgundy and Bordeaux and Italian wine like Barolo.
Other popular wines include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Malbec.
B. White Wine
White wine has an amber tint, slight acidic mouthfeel, and citrus or tropical flavor notes.
Full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc have good aging potential (about seven years.) Other lighter-bodied white wines include Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer.
C. Rose Wine
Wine producers use different techniques for making rosé. Many make it with red wine grape varietals while others bleed red wine into white wine to get the pink color.
Most rose wines are best consumed young, but many rosé wines and pink Champagnes have excellent aging potential.
D. Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine is made by pouring a still wine into bottles with yeast and sweet grape juice, and then fermenting it a second time in the bottle to produce the bubbles.
More affordable sparkling wine is carbonated in large batches by placing wine, yeast, and grape juice in a pressurized tank.
Still unsure what style of wine to pick?
Then, start with a dessert wine or a low alcohol sweet wine like Moscato. Sweet wine generally has a lower alcohol content, so it’ll be easy to start with – like drinking fruit juice (but with a kick!)
2. Shopping For Wine
Confused by all the different names, wine regions, wine grapes, and other technical jargon?
You’re not alone.
Here’s how you can shop right:
- Look for reviews and suggestions from friends or family on good wine stores.
- The shop’s room temperature should be cool, and the bottles placed away from direct sunlight.
- The shop might not have the brand you’re looking for but they should be able to recommend other good wine alternatives and ideally offer a few organic or natural wine styles as well.
- The wine seller should be able to answer your questions about the wine’s country of origin, the winemaker style, and the grape cultivation.
3. Ordering Wine At A Restaurant
It’s easy to get a little anxious by the lengthy wine lists many restaurants may have.
Here’s how to navigate the process:
- Look at the wine list: The restaurant may organize the wines by geographical location or grape variety. For example, Old World wines could be under the ‘geography’ category and New World wines under ‘grape.’
- Speak to a wine expert or sommelier: Tell the sommelier or wine expert what food you’ve ordered, share your budget, and then ask for a recommendation.When you order a bottle, the sommelier will bring it to you so you can taste it and check if you like it. If you don’t like the wine’s taste, the sommelier will most likely change it.
By now, you should have a thorough idea of how to drink wine and be well on your way to becoming a true-blue wine enthusiast.
Your next step may be to explore more great wine varieties and build a grand wine collection.
If you want to experience the rarest and finest wines out there, Vinovest can point you in the right direction and help curate your portfolio, and much more.