I’ll begin this post with a confession: Wine was just another alcoholic beverage to me in the past. Whenever I feel like taking a break from my beers, I’ll pull one bottle off the shelves at my local grocer, buy it and just drink it however I like. Please forgive me, wine aficionados!
I didn’t consider wine drinking an art — something to be appreciated — until one of my bottles tasted funny one day. It was then that I realised the importance of proper wine storage for a better drinking experience.
If you are like me, or are just simply curious about drinking wine the right way, you are in the right place!
But First, Let’s Start With How NOT To Drink Wine
I’ve always believe that if you want to get good at something, start learning from the mistakes others make. That way, you will better understand the fundamentals — why something should be done the way it should. This applies to wine.
1) Do not fill your wine glass to the brim
Do you sometimes feel it’s pretentious that waiters and waitresses only fill your glass below half-full? Well, there is a reason for this.
Why they do so is to allow space for the wine to aerate and release its aroma. The molecules from the aroma will then build up around the upper half of the glass — making it easier for you to smell the full flavor of the wine.
2) Do not put ice cubes in your wine
For obvious reasons, ice cubes will dilute your wine. An alternative option will be to use wine gems instead.
3) Do not drink your wine from the bottle (use a proper wine glass instead)
The first reason is because of hygiene. When you drink from a bottle, the saliva, bacteria and any food particle from your mouth may get into the bottle.
Secondly, drinking directly from the bottle eliminates the opportunity for wine to come in contact with the air — which will, in turn, affect the overall taste and aroma. See the first pointer.
4) Do not mix your wine
Every wine has its own flavor — and should rightfully remain as it is. Mixing your wine with other flavors essentially destroys the intended drinking experience.
5) Try not to pair your wine with cheese
If you do a search on ‘wine and cheese’, you will find countless articles on wine and cheese pairing. This may be one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to wine appreciation. Here’s why.
According to a wine expert, the acid in cheese will exacerbate the acidity, tannin and alcohol levels in your wine, causing both the delicacy and beverage to dry out completely. Not an optimal experience.
How Can We Drink Wine The Right Way Then?
Now that we’ve got the “don’ts” out of the way, here are a few key steps to take for an optimal drinking experience.
Step One: Do a little research on the brand of wine you are drinking
No matter how experienced you are, you can miss out important points to the wine itself — its culture, what food it is best paired with and more. A little research will help you better understand its specifics, giving you a bigger bang for your buck.
Step Two: Fill your glass below half-full and swirl it
In doing so, you will expose your wine to a larger surface area — allowing it to come into contact with more air particles to intensify its aroma.
To swirl your wine, you should (ideally) hold it by the stem. As you swirl, gently breathe in the aroma.
Be sure to take your time in smelling the wine because a complex wine offers multiple scents during the swirling process. The overall taste of your wine is a combination of the smells and flavor so this step is important.
Step Three: Taste the wine in small sips
Do it in small sips and let it roll across your taste buds. Keep the wine in your mouth for about 5 to 10 seconds before swallowing to experience a greater flavor.
After you swallow, allow yourself to enjoy the aftertaste. High-quality wines will give you a good finish that lingers on your palate for a longer period of time.
It may seem complicated but food and wine pairing is simple once you understand the basics.
If you consider yourself forgetful, just remember these 3 points:
- Your wine should always be more acidic than the food. That is why, we do not advocate pairing your wine with cheese (see above).
- Your wine should be sweeter than whatever you are eating.
- Your wine’s flavor should match the intensity of the food.
Congruent pairing amplifies taste by sharing several compounds or flavors. For example, your sweet wine can be taken together with a sweet dish. Red wine, on the other hand, can be taken together with a buttery dish due to it being richer in flavor.
The important point to take note of when it comes to congruent pairing is to make sure that your wine’s flavor is not overwhelmed by whatever you are eating. You don’t want to spoil your evening with a good wine that tastes blend because of your food.
If you want to be a little more adventurous, consider pairing your wine with foods of the opposite flavor. Common contrasting pairings include white wine with greasy food or salty grilled meat.
You can also compliment white wine with more spicy foods. Pepper, for example, opens up your taste buds to become more sensitive to the sweet flavors in your Riesling, making it taste richer.
Do Not Be Afraid To Try
As much as you can read up on experts’ advice when it comes to wine pairing, you also need to remember that tasting preferences varies from individual to individual. One person’s trash can be treasure to another.
Don’t be caged by the norm. If you wish to carve out your own path and expand your tasting notes, go for it. The beauty of wine tasting is the fact that it also allows you to discover more about yourself (what suits you or doesn’t) — and that in itself is worth exploring.
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