Here are five tips for enjoying better wines if you are an absolute beginner….
1. Love the wine you’re with
Don’t get worried about other people’s perceptions of your favourite wine. If someone feels that it is not a ‘worthy wine’, it says more about them than you. If you enjoy it, drink it. Accept that everyone’s tastes are very different and let them drink something else. Drinking wine is NOT a competition, the only losers are those who feel superior. No one likes a wine snob, except other wine snobs… maybe….
And the more expensive the wine is, does not mean that you will like it more than a less expensive wine.
The more expensive a wine is may, and should, mean it is better quality. However, it also may mean that it has had an expensive oak regime which may not suit your taste. It also may mean that that wine needs some time to be cellared to drink at its best, it may be too youthful when it appears in the bottle shops. It may also be a wine that is too intense for your tastes and that is quite ok.
A good quality wine should have complex aromas and flavours, ie. it should not smell of one single aroma or flavour once you know what you are smelling and tasting. It should also have an intensity that lasts for a while in your mouth.
Sometimes, it is worth sticking to big brand names in the wine aisle to start with as these wines ‘should’ offer wines that are varietally correct (and taste like the grape that made the wine) and be well enough made not to have faults or lack fruit intensity. They may not be the best wines available at the price, but they should be ‘safe’ if you lack confidence to try something new. Supermarkets and large wine chains may offer their own labels and these too can be ‘safe’ wines.
If you are a wine snob reading this, click here ….
2 . Taste widely
Don’t get stuck in a ‘wine rut’ being too afraid to try something different. Many shops will have free tastings from time to time, some will even have wines on tasting every day – for free or for a small fee. Go and taste some wine, probably stick to tasting just a few to start and go from there. In doing so, you will begin to learn about grape varieties and regions and that will give you the confidence to taste more. If you are taking a wine to a friend’s house, ask for help at a wine shop.
Take a picture of the label of the wine you like! – this one is so easy with phones. Whenever you enjoy a wine, take a photo of the label so you can find it again, or one like it if you cannot find that particular wine.
If you live near a winery that has a cellar door, go and do a tour and tasting.
And when you are feeling really cocky with your new found knowledge, host a tasting party at your house…. your friends will love you for it! Click here for some tips.
Serve your wine in a clean glass. Whatever the shape, make sure that it is clean so that the wine does not become tainted in aroma, taste or colour. And most wines do taste and smell better in a wine glass, but if you only have a tumbler, don’t let it stop you.
The general rule is to fill the glass only to widest girth of the modern shaped glass, you need to allow room to swirl the wine around to get some air into it. If you want to really get the best from your wine, avoid the temptation to fill the glass right to the top.
And if you are drinking sparkling wine, some of the prestige sparkling wines are better served in a tulip shaped glass than a traditional flute. But all sparkling wines are better in a flute than a ‘saucer’. Leave these for cocktails or champagne towers.
Do chill down white wines. In general, unoaked white wines can be served colder than oaked white wines. Oaked wines and high tannin wines become quite hard in the mouth when cold, even oaked white wines.
If it is hot, you should lightly chill down your red wines but let them come to a cool, room temperature (18C or 64F) before drinking them. A light tannined red such as a lightly oak pinot noir or a Beaujolais can be served cooler than this in warm weather if you want a chilled red wine. If you are after tips for keeping wines cool in warm weather, read up on the hot tips for summer drinking below.
Store any wine left in the bottle overnight in the fridge with some sort of seal.Ideally, you should use a vacuum pump or an inert gas sealing system. If it is a wine that should be served lightly chilled to room temperature, let it sit out to get to the correct serving temperature before you drink it again. Overnight, should be fine. A white wine may start tasting too oxidised after a night, particularly if you have not used a pump or gas sealing system.
Red wines may actually taste better the next day as it may have had time to get some oxygen into the wine. Red wines can last a few days if not opened again.
Want some hot tips for summer drinking – click here!