One of the questions I get every year, like clockwork as the saying goes, is “What’s your favorite wine?” And though I’ve definitely been lucky to have been exposed to more wine tastings than the average wine lover, there has never been – or will there ever be – a clear-cut answer to that question. Same thing is true for spirits and cocktails. Let me cite some of the broad reasons as to why no one should have a clear cut answer to that question.
I’ll Have What She’s Having
More common than I like it a person I’m dining with will order whatever I’m ordering, from wine to cocktails. I like that they appreciate my palate and taste, but that in no way transfers to what their palate or taste may like. Instead it would be a little wiser to ask me why I selected a certain wine or cocktail, what the flavor profile is, and if that still sounds good to you, go for it.
Looking at the Wine or Cocktail List Before Ordering
I always look the wine list or cocktail menu before ordering what I want to drink with dinner. If I find something that sounds really good, then I will look at the dinner menu that should have something meant to pair it with. Then I order. You can certainly do it the other way around but this way I can get my “favorite” drink for that particular time.
Depends On What I’m Eating
Yes, you should be thinking about what you are eating when you select a wine. Your current favorite may be a nice oaky Chardonnay but that isn’t going to break down the fat in a steak like a red wine with lots of tannins. (so if you are going to order the same drink as me, you should be ordering the same food!) Which brings me to:
Think About What Goes Into Your Mouth
A few years back I was teaching a wine lesson to two local television hosts. When one commented that she just wants to drink and not think about it, I admonished her and said something like, “You should really think about what goes in your mouth”, to which she replied by spitting out the wine she had in her mouth as she was laughing so hard. (This was all on camera so it turned out to be a really fun show!) I bet from that moment on she spent a little more time reflecting about what she eats and drinks. I’ve also been quoted to say something like, “Those that spend the time thinking about the aromas and flavors in wine, and the work the winemaker put into it, are also more likely to notice their surroundings in general, and appreciate them as well.”
Yes, wine and cocktails can be seasonal. Whites and pinks in the hot months and reds in the cold months. I’ve been known to slightly chill light reds in the summer months too. Some people even enjoy clear spirit cocktails in the summer and brown spirit cocktails in the winter, that hasn’t mattered that much to me.
I’ve learned that while bottles of wine can be triple the cost in a restaurant, and totally respect mark-up, I may lean toward a cocktail for a better price. I also think twice about spending hundreds of dollars on wine that is meant to age for a while. At my age I don’t want to plan on waiting 10 or 20 years to enjoy a bottle of wine.
Following a Winemaker
Two winemakers come to mind when I mention this, but they shall remain nameless to protect the winery they have left behind. I’ve followed them both to their new wineries as their work is impeccable, no matter where it takes them. They are always favorites of mine. I hope that in your wine journey you find a few winemakers to follow too.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits