Vino, vin, the drink of the gods. It’s all wine — so simple and yet increasingly complex. Millions enjoy drinking it, but when it comes to describing this illustrious libation, many feel intimidated and just plain dumb. “Oh, this is pretty good,” may be the extent of your wine commentary. Think about why the wine is good. What flavors come to mind? Vanilla, cinnamon, citrus? Now, your comments are strengthened by saying “Oh, this is pretty good. I can taste the vanilla and lingering cinnamon notes.” You sound like a boss already.
The best way to learn about wine is to try as much as possible, yet it can be difficult to avoid getting sloshed in the process. Enjoy the experience while learning how wine should be enjoyed. Wine tastings are only a stone’s throw away and weekends are full of tasting opportunities. In the meantime, take a look at a few sipping suggestions for basic wine knowledge to impress your friends.
Take a Look at Your Wine
Our natural senses come in handy when exploring the world of wine. First, look at the wine. When you have a full glass or a small amount to taste, observe the color. Exaggerate your examination: Hold the glass outwards in front of you, peer over top as if you’re inspecting every drop. Swirl it around a little (gently, so it doesn't slosh), then say something like, “Hmm, pretty good legs [the "tears" of water that flow down the inside of the glass after a swirl].” Your friends will be intrigued.
Use Your Nose
Swirl the wine again (still carefully), then sniff it. Move the glass closer and farther from your nose (if anybody asks, explain that different aroma components reveal themselves at different distances). Think about what you smell. Berry aromas? Floral scents? These are important qualities to consider. At this point, nod your head to show approval. One trick is to sniff the wine after swirling because the bouquet is stronger. Mutter something to yourself under your breath, too. Your friends will be believers at this point.
Now, it’s time to sip. Don't gulp; take a smallish sip and move the wine around your mouth so that it coats your tongue. Feel free to quietly mimic gargling (but try not to laugh at yourself). What do you notice? Are the flavors similar to the aromas experienced earlier? Decide if the flavors bring anything to mind. Lastly, you can swallow the wine or, if you're at a wine tasting rather than a social event, discreetly spit it out into the designated receptacle (don't dribble!). Confidently, talk about what you tasted.
Wine Descriptions — Just Talk About It
Every wine you will ever sample, including those from the same type of grape and same area, will vary from all the others in flavor and strength intensity. This is due to the soil and climate in which the grapes were grown, the vineyard practices, the wizard-like techniques winemakers use during the production process, and (ultimately) the way the wine has been stored and/or is being served. When describing wine, use terms like "bold," "bright and vibrant," "light," ":crisp," "meaty," or "smooth." How will you know which ones apply? Use your imagination. You'll sound like you know what you're talking about, even if you really don't.