Here are six easy steps:
Corks vs screw caps
Have you ever experienced opening a bottle and finding its taste a bit flat? It was most likely sealed with a tainted cork. A tainted cork is not common, but it does happen. A screw caps is more convenient to open, and will not allow air in over time, which keeps the wine from going flat. However, a screw cap does not have the same old world magic as popping a cork. Some say the best seal for allowing wine to age, with small amounts of air reacting to the wine over time, is cork, as long as it’s not tainted. Yet, others will argue that screw caps allow wine to stay pristine for years.
Smelling, swirling and gargling
Take your time and enjoy your sips. What attracts us to wine is how it appeals to our senses of smell and taste. A sniff then a subtle swirl and a sensible tasting moment will allow you to uncover all the hidden secrets of a wine. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get out of a wine with just a few seconds’ effort during the drinking – and if you can perfect all those fancy moves in one seamless, silent action, then go for it.
Ordering wine in restaurants
Most times in a restaurant, you’ll consider your meal selection first, then wines afterwards. Once you have an idea of your table’s chosen dishes, the trick is to find a wine that can work with as many of the meals as possible.
Ask the waiter for a recommendation based on your food and wine preferences – and don’t be afraid to state a budget. You’ll soon figure if you’re going to get any sensible advice. If not, you know your own tastes; stick with the wine style you like and pinpoint your price limits. You can play safe or go out on a limb, which is often a way of finding new favourite drops. At least if the wine disappoints, it doesn’t reflect on your own taste as it was an exploration of the unknown.
The wine label
The label will most likely inform you of the year, region and variety. But which one is more important to your decision making? You’ll mostly choose a wine first by the variety, which determines the flavour more than anything. Take the next step and learn about what varieties blend well with others – such as shiraz with grenache and mourvedre (aka mataro), or sauvignon blanc with semillon, cabernet with merlot and even cabernet and shiraz.
The next step is to pinpoint which regions have strong track records with which varieties: the Hunter with semillon and shiraz; Rutherglen with fortifieds; the Yarra with chardonnay; Coonawarra with cabernet, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley with shiraz. The list goes on and doesn’t exclude other varieties, so be prepared to learn a bit more. The vintage year starts to get into more complex detail, but if you are keen so far, attend a wine appreciation course and you’ll never look back.
Food and wine pairings
You can get so much more enjoyment out of your wine and food occasions if you take a small moment of time and think about why certain ingredients go with specific wines or wine styles. Importantly, look at what your fish or meat is being cooked with, the sauces and garnishes, as they often carry the real flavour on a plate. Now consider the weight of the food and the wine. A big red such as shiraz or cabernet will certainly go with big red meats but might overwhelm a game bird, while a lighter red such as pinot will be the reverse
Aroma,, acidity, tannins, texture…
Because wine is genuinely about sensory perceptions, human beings love to verbalise what they’re into. If you stick your nose into a glass, then you might like to imagine what you’re smelling. If you’re willing to open your mouth and drink a wine, then it might surprise you if you stop and think about what’s going on. Is it tart, sweet, smooth, soft, and what do the flavours remind you of? Don’t overthink it, don’t wave your arms around – just get a “feel” for the wine and its flavours. If that intrigues you, then you never know your luck. You might just have begun a life-long affair – with the glorious drop, that is.
Tips from winefolly