Thequestion isn’t whether you do or don’t enjoy drinking wine: it’s how much youknow about it. Really know about it. If you’re young and like to order a glass(or buy a box) every once in a while as opposed to drinking your favorite beer,it’s okay that you can’t tell the difference between a Merlot or a Grenache, orthat you always forget what you’re supposed to pair with a Riesling. But nomatter how unseasoned your tastes or your experience may be, you will beexpected at certain times to step up to plate and show that you understand thebasics of wine at the very least. Keep reading for a beginner’s guide tochoosing wine, pairing wine and even opening wine, so that you don’t make afool of yourself when it really counts.
- Start paying attention when you drink wine: When you dine out at a restaurant, start ordering wine more often and ask the waiter what he or she recommends, and why. Don’t be afraid to jot down some notes as you drink your glass, and read the back of the label if you decide to buy the whole bottle.
- Know the basic reds and whites: You can obviously tell the difference between red wine and white wine, but how do you straighten out the more subtle variances of each? Start by learning the basics: Pinot Noir is one of the most popular reds in the United States and pairs well with lots of foods, just as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are popular whites for appetizers and dinners. Don’t overwhelm yourself at first: the more you begin drinking wine, you’ll learn organically which ones are which.
- Find a favorite: If you’re asked to order a bottle of wine for your table by your boss or your date’s parents for example, you’ll need to be prepared. Already have selected one or two wines that you’ve learned about and that you like. Bonus points if you can tell your friends where the wine was made and what specifically you like about it.
- Learn about common wine and food pairings: You’ll probably find that your favorite wine goes with anything, but most common wine-food pairings are seafood, mild cheeses, poultry, Asian food and lighter meals go with white wine, and beef, stronger cheeses, red-sauced Italian dishes and heavier meals with red wine.
- Buy a set of good wine glasses: If you’ve ever visited a wine shop or even Pottery Barn, you know that there are lots of different kinds of wine glasses. When you’re young, you don’t need to invest in all kinds of glasses, but you should have one proper set of matching glasses that works for most wines (don’t buy a set of champagne flutes, for example). Pick clear glass with a stem and a moderate sized bowl.
- Learn about wine temperature: Just as you can make yourself crazy trying to figure out all the types of wine glasses, you can also get confused with wine temperatures. Just remember that white wine, rose and sparkling wines should be well chilled and that red wine should be served between 54 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, though in most casual settings with friends it’s acceptable to leave them out at room temperature.
- Learn how to properly open a bottle of wine: Nothing makes you look more amateur and like a closet wine-from-the-box drinker than fumbling with a bottle opener. The Internet has lots of videos demonstrating how to open wine with different types of openers, so throw a tasting party at home to practice.
- Practice serving wine: Once you’ve gotten the bottle open, you’re going to have to practice pouring it without spilling it, short-changing your guests or overfilling the glasses on the first round. If you’re serving at home, it’s common etiquette to first show your guests the bottle so that they can see what they’re about to drink. Then, start serving guests clockwise (if you want to be really formal), and fill up glasses no more than halfway, especially if you are serving red wine. This is so that the real pros can swirl their wine and let it breathe without spilling it.
- Come up with a good toast: If you’re responsible for ordering and/or serving the wine, your friends will turn to you for the first toast, too. Come up with something original that you can rely on for all types of occasions, and then tailor it for that specific dinner or to honor one of your guests.
(Thisguest post is contributed by Tim Handorf, who writes on the topics of online college rankings. He welcomes your comments at his email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.)