Wine tips

I use HootSuite for keeping up with theTwitter verse and have a large selection of wine related search columns that I browse once or twice a day. Sometimes I run across questions or suggestions that I answer or haven’t thought of. Those lead me to this piece, where I’m just going to doll out some random collection of thoughts and tips on wine. Answering questions and conducting wine education were my second favorite thing when I was in retail. First you ask? Drinking the wine of course.

Temperature: People go nuts over glassware, but pay so little attention to temperature. BIG mistake. Service temperature is critical for really enjoying a wine. I will tell you that most folks make the mistake of serving their reds too warm and their whites too cold. The reds comes from the “room temperature” rule. That is room temperature in Europe people. It is much cooler there on average than it is here. So, throw your reds in the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes (lighter body wines get longer time) if you don’t have a wine cooler or cellar, which is probably the vast majority.

I even asked the question of several professional critics who have Twitter accounts. So far, James Molesworth of Wine Spectator is the only to answer. You can see what he said when I asked him what temperature he tastes wine at when doing reviews. For those who don’t know, Mr. Molesworth covers wines from Bordeaux, the Rhône & Loire valleys, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and New York’s Finger Lakes.

For whites, take the wine out of the fridge (assuming it has been in there for a few hours or days) for 20 minutes before you drink it. Serving wine too cold mutes the flavors. I think that may account for the reason certain wines tend to be such good sellers…you can’t actually taste them at fridge temperature.

Sparkling wine: I suggested that if the bubbles in sparkling wine are a bit bothersome, try serving the wine in white wine glasses. It helps dissipate the bubbles quicker and you actually taste more of the wine, removing some of the textural element. Granted, I like the bubbles, but I’ve tried sparkling this way and still thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to Alva for this tip.

Dessert vs. sweet: I saw this on a thread discussing Sauternes on the Wine Berserkers board. One person remarks that an owner of a Chateau in Sauternes took great offense to his wine being called dessert wine. He said it was sweet and not just for dessert. This is quite true, as one of the most classic of pairings in the wine world is foie gras with a sweet wine. Foie gras is served as an appetizer, so opposite end of the meal from dessert. I myself will need to start making this adjustment, as I do like sweet wines other than with or just for dessert.

Examples other than the foie gras are:

  • Lambrusco (sweet sparkler from Italy) with pizza that has spicy meat toppings.
  • Late-harvest wines with spicy Asian cuisine.
  • Tawny port and many late-harvest sweet wines are outstanding with different cheeses, especially blues.
  • Heavy cream sauce dishes where the acidity of a late-harvest wine cuts through the richness of the cream. I’ve never tried this particular combination (because I’m usually not a fan of cream sauces), but I read about it and it makes sense from standard pairing guidelines.
  • Lobster or crab with late-harvest wines. Again, one I’ve not tried (not in the budget) but I can see how it would work.
  • Beef, be it smoked or rare off the grill, with Port. I can especially imagine this to work well if you use some sort of coffee rub, where the added bitter notes will offset the sweet.

Thanksgiving: Pay no attention to the “experts” and drink what you like. While Pinot and Riesling are often recommended, those two grapes are fall backs for such “nightmare” pairing scenarios because in general, they are the most diverse when it comes to being what wine geeks call food friendly wines. My sensei found Zinfandel and Grenache to be among her favorites, along with a Chenin Blanc / Viognier blend. I’ve heard others call for sparkling wines, especially rosés, which tend to be the food friendliest of the bubbly gang. You won’t hear any arguing from this bubble head. For those brave enough, try a slightly off-dry sparkling shiraz, which will be particularly popular with the less geeky of your wine drinking friends. And if you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Chianti, Bordeaux or whatever…pour on my friend, pour on. Just remember to actually take a moment and be thankful for what you have in this world and not so concerned with what you don’t have.

I found the photo upon conducting the search for “advice” on Flickr and their library of Creative Commons licensed photos. I really liked it and thought it appropriate to add something heavy to something so light.

Until next time…

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