The art of drinking wine is a rather noble one and the sommeliers are here for it.Nonetheless, if you are someone who just wants to enjoy a humble glass or two, choosing a wine to buy from the bottle store can become overwhelming.
You ask why? The list of technical terms and rules make it intimidating for the new wine drinkers. However, if you are a curious newbie in the world of wine, we have a glorious handbook for you. From popping the cork to understanding the texture of that last sip, everything begins with a basic understanding of the magic elixir.
The World of Wine & Its Types
To put it simply, wine is an alcoholic beverage made out of fermented grapes. What comes after is a whole universe of aroma, texture, and taste. The classic swirl-sniff-sip is a beginner’s guide to enjoying a glass, to its brim. The wide variety of wines can confuse first-time drinkers. However, to begin with, it can be simply distinguished by its colours - red, white, rose & the less common orange. What follows after are the flavours - dry or sweet. Dry wines ones leave no sweetness on the palate and are generally served as an aperitif. On the other hand, the sweet ones are generally treated as dessert wines or used for cheese pairings.
The colour of your favourite red wine comes from a pigment present in the grapes. Usually fermented with black-skinned grapes, red wine gets its colour from the skin of the grapes.
Quite contrary to the red one, the grape skin is removed before the process of fermentation and that makes the wine colourless.
Rosé is fermented in the same way red wine is, using the same black-skinned grapes. The only difference is the time of fermentation with the skin is reduced, giving it a light hue.
The lesser common kind, orange wine, has been around for centuries. It is fermented by leaving the skin on the white grapes.
Famously used to mark celebrations, sparkling wine is different because of its double-step fermentation. What makes it different from the other wines is its fizzy nature. So if you’re feeling bubbly, grab a sparkling one for yourself.
What’s the Right Temperature to Serve Wine?
Once you’ve chosen the right kind for yourself, you should ideally move onto understanding the right temperature to pour the wine. Are we making up these rules? Certainly not! The temperature does add up to a wholesome wine experience. We are parking the strict rules aside and jumping to the basics. Temperature plays a pivotal role as it affects how the wine tastes. If white wine is served too cold, the flavours get diluted. On the contrary, red wine, if served hot, tastes extremely acidic. If you wish to understand its flavour, texture and character, it’s important to serve your wine correctly.
The ideal temperature for red wine is 12 to 18 degrees celsius. For white wine & rosé, 10 to 12 degrees celsius is optimal. Another thing to remember is to keep the wine uncorked or decant, 30-50 minutes before serving the wine. Aerating the wine brings out its true flavours.
How to choose the Right Wine Glass?
That’s right, after choosing the perfect temperature comes an appropriate style of glass to accentuate wine & its flavours. We understand there are days you feel like drinking it straight out the bottle (and we say, go for it). A perfect experience however includes the right kind of glass. The surface area of the top of the glass plays an important role in releasing the aromas and flavours. You should be able to smell the wine before drinking it. Larger brims allow the aroma to evolve while smaller ones consolidate the same.
Experts can identify the history of a particular wine by simply by sniffing it . We say why don’t you become the expert at your next wine & dine party?
When you’re picking up the perfect glass for red wine, make sure you choose one with a larger bowl area. These glasses allow the wine to breathe and enhance its flavours. While white wines are best served cold, in a U-shaped bowl to keep the wine cooler for a longer period of time. Unlike red wine, white wine requires less oxygen to release aroma and flavours. Having said that, different wines can be served in different sizes to complement textures and other profiles.
How to Drink Wine like the Connoisseurs
5 tips from the experts
1. Hold it closer, hold it right
As idealistic as it may sound, the first step to drinking wine correctly is to know how to hold the glass properly. Always remember, hold it by its stem. The stemless ones, these days, are perfect for beginners. You should hold them from the base with three fingers, starting with your thumb and let the other fingers rest. It keeps the wine, just the right temperature without making it warm.
2. Swirling like a pro
Much like the decantation process, swirling allows the wine to oxygenate and brings out the coveted aroma. Believe us, it makes the wine taste better if done efficiently. For this reason, glasses with larger brims are perfect for swirling.
3. Pour it perfectly
Filling a wine glass to the brim is the last thing you should consider. The glasses should be only filled till half or one-third. However, if you wish to be accurate, fill it till the point where the circumference is the widest. This allows you enough space to swirl without changing the temperature of the wine.
4. Know your wine from its bottle
A perfectly corked wine is sometimes difficult to find. If the cork comes off too easily or is bulging out, it means that the wine has been oxidised prematurely and has lost its original flavours. Interestingly enough, if the wine is sealed too tightly and the cork just won’t come off, it is a sign that the wine did not get enough oxygen and the flavours have not developed yet.
Additionally, you can identify the health of the wine by simply smelling it. When your wine smells like vinegar on opening, it has definitely gone bad. However, a bottle of good wine is easy to spot as it smells of overripe fruits.
5. Understand wine & its age
‘Age like wine’ is a common phrase that we all love when it is used in reference to our age. However, most wines (except the ones that have high acidity & complex flavours), should be consumed while young. The best wines can be opened within one to five years of bottling.
To conclude, a wholesome wine experience is a multisensory one and is different for every drinker. The best way to acquire the taste is by starting with the more complex ones and working your way towards the lighter ones. We hope that you can develop a palate of your own after reading this article. And of course, the most important thing - don’t forget to pop the cork and pour yourself a fine one.