10 tips to get you drinking wine like a pro. All the interesting facts you didn't know and all the basics to get you started.
I remember once going on a blind date with someone, and the waiter came around with the menus asking if we'd like to have something to drink. I recall staring at the wine menu for the longest time, not having any idea at all what to order. After what felt like an eternity, I looked up at my date sheepishly and said, "Why don't you pick something for me?"
It's safe to say that I never saw him again.
Long story short... Know what wines you're going to order.
And so to save yourself from any of that embarrassment I went through, here's something you'll need to know from interesting facts, to the very art of ordering, swirling and tasting wine! So you'll be all set to impress on your next date!
What You Didn't Know About Wine
1. Australians drink approximately 24 litres of wine per capita.
That ranks pretty decently alongside Germany, but well behind the French, who drink 45 litres per capita. Interestingly, the highest wine consumption per capita was recorded in Portugal in 1971. It used to be 90 litres, but has since more than halved.
Surprisingly, the highest amount of wine consumption today per capita is not by the French (surprise, surprise!). The Vatican City leads, at 74 litres per capita. Statisticians suggest this has more to do with this nation's predominantly adult population.
2. Staying awake for 17 hours equals two glasses of wine.
The equivalent of staying up for 17 hours leads to decrease in performance, which equals the effects of consuming two glasses of wine. Next time you're looking tired... Blame it on the wine!
3. A spa in Japan lets you swim in tea, coffee, and wine.
Just when you thought life couldn't get better... It actually could. At the Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan, you can swim in tea, coffee, and wine - all in the name of health and wellbeing. They say that bathing in wine is considered rejuvenating for the body, as Queen Cleopatra frequently did. A 3.6m bottle of wine pours fresh red wine into the pool daily.
How To Order Wine
4.Verify, inspect, and approve.
They say that there are three basic steps to do this. First, verify that the bottle in his hand is what you ordered. Funnily enough I never used to do this because I always trusted that the waiters would get the right wine, but you'd be surprised how often mistakes happen. Especially if you've ordered a more mature one, you'll usually want to inspect its condition such as bottle fill level, the importer sticker, and even the temperature with a light touch of the hand.
Next, inspect the cork. This determines that it's printed with the same producer as the label and to see if there is seepage through the cork. Too much seepage could indicate that the wine is flawed.
Approve! This is basically letting the waiter pour you a sample, and for you to taste it to check that the wine is good. There are 3 biggest giveaways:
Wine that smells like cork.
This will be really obvious! But it basically means that it's been infected by Trichloroanisole (TCA) and is caused by mould from unclean corks. Rare, but it happens.
Wine that smells like it's been cooked.
I'm not kidding. When you smell it, it'll come off stale. The flavours are completely muted, and this is because the wine has been stored for extended periods above room temperature (or in contact with sun).
Wine that has been oxidised.
This happens when the bottle hasn't been properly sealed. Wine turns to vinegar when exposed to oxygen, so you'll be looking for a zingy high-acid flavour that's similar to vinegar. That's a sure no-no.
Read this if you want a more detailed guide about how to sniff out bad wine.
Chances are, your wine will be good to go and the above scenarios are rare. So here's the next bit:
How To Drink Wine
5. Wine testers swirl their glass to release the aromas of the wine.
Ever wondered why your glass isn't filled more than a third full? It's to allow you to swirl the wine in your glass to let the aromas collect and not spill during a swirl.
6. When tasting, hold the wine in the mouth for a moment.
Generally when you taste wine, you don't gulp it down immediately. There are reasons for this. You savour it slowly in your mouth, so that all the flavours have time to come out. A really fine wine will have a long aftertaste, while an inferior wine will have a short aftertaste.
7. Hold the wine glass by the stem.
If you didn't realise that there was a right and wrong way to hold your wine glass, this one's for you. Wine glasses should always be held by the stem and not the cup itself, because the heat from your hand will warm the wine.
8. Never store your wine standing up.
Keeping the wine on its side keeps the wine in contact with the cork, preventing it from drying, shrinking, or letting in air. This also prevents cork contamination. However, wine can be stored vertically if the bottle has an artificial cork.
Other Quick Facts and Knick-Knacks
9. There are people who dislike wine and there's a name for it.
Oenophobia describes people with wine phobia - and they really do exist. This phobia causes them to dislike wine, especially if they go out a lot or spend time in the company of wine-lovers. Shocking, right?
10. There are specific terms to describe the type of wine you want.
Velvety, complex, crisp, or earthy... You name it, this list has it. So now you'll never be afraid of asking the waiter for recommendations based on what your preferences are!
And finally, for the best type of wine pairings... Which wines to order with your meal! I'll leave you with the classics that are all you'll have to remember. As a rule of thumb, red wines generally go well with meaty dishes and wine wines better with seafoods.
My three favourites are:
Sauvignon Blanc with seafood.
Pinot Grigio with fish.
Moscato with fruit as a dessert wine - for that something sweet!
Hopefully you're all set to be a sommelier now! And hey, if you take towards beers instead and would love to read an article on it, we'd love to hear from you.
Keen to go on a wine-tasting tour? You can check out our catalog here.
And if you have interesting experiences that you'd love to share with us, drop a comment below! We'd love to hear it.