How To Drink Wine Like an Expert
In 2021, Americans drank around 1.1 billion gallons of wine. That’s around 3.18 gallons for every person of drinking age. But not everyone knows, or cares, about the proper way to drink wine.
That might be because picking wine and wine pairing is an art form. It can take years to learn the craft. And you need qualifications to be a professional sommelier.
But what if you only want to know the basics of drinking wine to impress your boss or colleagues? What if you’re hosting or attending a fancy event and don’t have time to study the ins and outs of fine wines?
Don’t worry! This step-by-step guide will show you how to pick, serve, and drink wine like a true connoisseur.
Step 1: Choose a Type of Wine
Around 99% of the time, wine only consists of grapes. There are tons of grape varieties from different regions that produce different types of wines. Some wines are blends and others contain only one grape variety.
These are the four main types of wine that you should know about:
- Red wine – made from red grapes with the skins left on to produce the dark color
- White wine – made from all types of grapes without the skins
- Rosé wine – made from a blend of red and white grapes or using only red grapes
- Sparkling wine – made from any grape with carbon dioxide added to make it fizzy
Dessert and fortified wines are wines like port, sherry, and vermouth. These have different pouring and tasting techniques.
Some common examples of red wine grapes are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. And some common types of white wine grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling.
Some common types of sparkling wine are champagne, prosecco, and cava. Note that these aren’t grape varieties but refer to the region or country that makes the wine.
The four main wines can either be dry or sweet. Dry wines are better to serve before dinner or paired with meals. You can pair sweet wines with desserts and cheese.
Step 2: Inspect the Wine Bottle’s Cork
Before you choose a bottle of wine, check the cork. One that is bulging out of the bottle might mean the wine has suffered too much heat. Or, the winemaker did not seal the cork and let too much oxygen enter the bottle.
If a wine bottle’s cork is too tight, it may not have had enough oxygen. You won’t have these problems with screw-top wine bottles. But you might not look like a wine expert if you opt for screw-tops!
Step 3: Chill It to the Right Temperature
You need to serve different wines at different temperatures. As a general rule, you should chill white wine and serve red wine at room temperature. Here are more specific guidelines:
- Red wine – serve between 60 to 65°F
- White, rosé, and sparkling – serve between 45 to 50°F
You should serve heavier white wines (e.g. Chardonnay) and lighter red wines (e.g. Pinot Noir) between 55 to 60°F.
Step 4: Choose the Correct Wine Glass
If you’re attending a wine tasting, you’ll notice that there are different sizes of wine glasses. Not only does temperature affect the taste when you drink wine, but the size and shape of the glass can affect it too.
Red wines need a larger bowl and a taller glass. These glasses allow oxygen to blend with the wine and reduce the bitter aftertaste. This is otherwise known as letting the wine “breathe.”
White wines have a smaller bowl and narrower glass. This helps keep the wine cool. Plus, white wines don’t need to “breathe” as much as reds to release their flavor. You can serve rosé in a white wine glass too.
You should serve sparkling wines in flute glasses with small bowls and tall, narrow glasses. This helps preserve the bubbles for longer.
Step 5: Uncork and Pour Wine the Proper Way
Remove any foil or wax before you uncork wine using a corkscrew. Press the corkscrew hard enough so it breaks the cork’s surface, Then, rotate six or seven times before pressing the corkscrew’s levers down.
Make sure you have a firm grasp on the wine bottle’s neck while you do this.
Always pour wine by putting the glass on a surface and holding the bottom half of the bottle. You can pour in the center or on the side of the glass, it doesn’t matter as long as you take your time.
Only pour around 5oz in every glass and never more than half-full. Twist the bottle a little as you pull it back up and wipe the bottle’s lip if you have a cloth.
You can use a wine aerator to help you pour wine. This is a device you attach to the wine bottle’s neck that increases the amount of oxygen in the wine. This is essential for wines that are more than a year old.
Step 6: Pick up and Swirl the Wine
Always hold the glass by the top of the stem with your thumb and two fingers when you drink wine. This will help keep the wine at its optimum temperature for longer. If there is no stem, hold the glass as you would any water tumbler.
Always swirl your wine a little (for around 10 seconds) before you smell and taste it. This helps bring out the aromas in the grapes. Don’t be too rough or else you might spill your wine!
Step 7: Smell the Wine’s Aromas
It might seem silly if you’ve never done it before but you should always smell before you drink wine. Don’t be afraid to put your nose right in the glass and take a normal breath. Loud sniffing will make you seem like an amateur!
Step 8: Sip and Taste the Wine
The last step to learning how to drink wine is to actually drink it. There is no art to this as long as you take little sips and not big gulps.
Drink Wine Like a Professional With These Tips
You may think you already know how to drink wine, but there’s a lot more nuance to it than you might think. Now you have these essential tips, you’ll be able to fake being a wine expert until you make it as one!
Are you looking to enrich your life with more hobbies and skills? Check out our articles on hobbies, food, and drink for more inspiration!