I've often enjoyed wine with meals but while
at a business dinner one autumn evening in Europe our host
gently chided me for grasping the goblet of my wine glass
instead of the stem.
I decided to mend my ways and learn something about wine.
These are the notes I've collected. If you have any suggestions please
send them to me.
Here are some basics that might seem obvious to many
but since no one is born knowing them (at least I wasn't)
here they are:
Red wines are intended to be served around 60°F (about 20
minutes in the 'fridge) which is closer to the optimum wine
cellar temperature of 55°F than room temperature.
White wines are intended to be served chilled to around
45°F. The typical refrigerator temperature is around
40°F so this means letting a chilled bottle sit on the counter
around 10 minutes or so before serving it.
Hold the wine glass by the stem. Holding it by the goblet
can cause the wine to warm up.
Here are some survival tips for when you are confronted by
the sommellier (wine waiter) or the wine list in a restuarant.
Wine lists are usually arranged from most to least expensive.
A light white wine is good choice to start just about any meal,
especially if you know you will be ordering a second bottle later.
The second bottle can be matched with what your guests have ordered.
If you are not sure how to pronounce it, look for the bin number
or just smile and point, "this one". (Worked well plenty of times for me)
Don't bother to smell the cork but do look at it. If you see a
dark stain running the entire length of the cork on one side it
might indicate the bottle hasn't been stored or sealed properly.
Look at the sample offered to you before you taste it. Give the
glass a gentle swirl while holding it at eye level and watch the
wine as it drains down the sides of the glass. It should be free
Taste it slowly. Flaws that would merit refusing the bottle
offered are a `musty' taste (cork contamination) or vinegar taste
(not sealed properly or stored at too high a temperature)
If it's not right they should bring you a different bottle of
the same label and vintage.
Matching Food and Wine
Matching food and wine means going for similar tastes. i.e. sweet food,
sweet wine. Dry white wines complement seafood in the same way a squirt
of a lemon improves the taste of fish. A hearty Syrah can be incredible
with a slab of prime rib.
(White) Asti Spumante, Rieslings, White Zinfandel
(Red) Lambrusco, Port
The 5 digit rating assigned to some of the wines
is calibrated to my tastebuds - which find
MerlotChardonnaySyrahPinot GrigioPinot Noir
to be the perfect wine
- so it is probably useless to anyone else. In fact,
with this rating system, a glass of grape juice and a tablespoon of
pure grain alcohol stirred together with a tea bag might get all 5's.
The idea was to list complementary pairs of tastes and
assign each pair a number indicating where it falls within
the range between them.