The high point of my day is choosing what wine will “show best” with the evening meal. And obviously, the holiday season is perfect time for playing match-the-wine. In general, I am a LearnVest style-minded imbiber, spending no more than $15 retail for a bottle of juice. There are occasions, however, when my ability to explore a glass of wine, regardless of price, is blocked by preventable forces.
Read on to discover how to avoid the pitfalls which spoil the wine enjoyment ritual.
One of my first posts as a LearnVest expert was about glassware. We’ve all seen it: At a restaurant, a glass of wine is ordered and a tiny, very full goblet arrives at the table. This presentation, while visually generous, doesn’t allow the wine to shine. You certainly can’t swirl and smell the aromas in this clumsy predicament, and thus you are deprived a vital part of the wine’s composition. Restaurateurs who take pride in their wine program will offer you the same quantity of wine in a much larger vessel, and your glassware at home should mimic this model to maximize your satisfaction.
Temperature Is Fundamental
Sometimes traditions are derived from logic. Wine served at “cellar temperature” makes perfect sense. When wine is served at extreme temperatures, the balance of the juice is skewed. A red wine served too warm will showcase its alcohol, resulting in a “hot”, intrusively-tannic, awkward mouthful. Likewise, a white wine served too cold numbs the palate’s ability to sense the richness of fruit. Drink your whites chilled to between 50 and 55 degrees and reds at 60 to 65 degrees for optimum pleasure. And speaking of temperature, remember to match your wine choice with the weather—a big red wine on a hot day spells “hard to swallow.”
A Doomed Palate
Dull taste buds are not only caused by drinking wine too cold. Sweets, hard alcohol, and cigarettes are huge inhibitors to accurate tasting. If you’re serious about drinking serious juice, don’t start out with a dirty martini and expect to enjoy the nuance of a Pinot Noir afterward. If you crave a cocktail before vino, opt for a “bitter” like Campari, the way the Italians do. This type of elixir activates the taste buds and seasons the senses for aromatic pleasure. And if you do smoke, save the butt until after dessert, for your own sake and out of respect for those around you.
The Biggest Offender
My pet peeve when trying to enjoy the nuance of wine is designer fragrance. How can you smell the aromas of the wine when Obsession is blitzing the nostrils? Please keep this fact in mind, especially when dining out. On a Saturday night at a tiny NYC three-star restaurant I worked in, we had to move a whole section of tables because a group of women waltzed in doused in perfume. Restaurant diners are spending bucks to focus on the wine and food experience, and when someone’s cologne is competing for the olfactory attention, it detracts from the experience for everyone. If you want to make the most of your wine choices, get used to “au natural.”
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