The title of this article is “5 Things I Learned About Wine”, but should include the addendum “which have made me a little bit wine snobby”. You see, I hide it well.
According to my editor, David Carroll, I’m a wine snob because I know more than he does about wine and recently bought a wine fridge. I would argue that just makes me a wine enthusiast, or even a wine connoisseur. To me, my “little bit wine snobby” comes from the inner reaction I have when someone mispronounces Gewürztraminer or Merlot. Or when someone tells me they “loooooove” wine, but they only prefer to drink Moscato, a sweet white wine.
Let me make it clear: there is NOTHING WRONG with either of those things.
I’ve done both in my life. But now that I make an effort to experience more and more of the wine world every day, when I observe those things I can’t help but feel like a smarty pants. The truth is that everyone’s “wine evolution” happens a little differently (or sometimes not at all).
Here are 5 things that I learned during my progression.
1. Amount in a Glass
When I first started drinking wine regularly, I was pouring the glass for myself, friends, and family at home. A hefty glass.
When I would go to wine bars and fine restaurants, they usually poured about 5 ounces, which typically fell somewhere between the halfway and one-third mark. I seem to remember thinking, “Are you kidding me?! I’m paying the same price for that glass that I normally pay for an entire bottle of wine, and you aren’t even going to FILL IT UP? What a waste.”
Now I realize what a waste it is… to fill up the glass.
A waste of wonderful aromas. Aromas that ultimately affect the taste of the wine. Plus, I do love room to swirl. When I pour myself a glass, I aim to keep it below the halfway mark at the very most so there’s room in the glass for the bouquet to gather. (Except for sparkling wines.)
If I order wine at a restaurant or bar and they bring me a glass filled almost to the brim, I quietly cringe. Don’t even get me started on the type of glass.
Fridge temperature (at or below 40° F) is too cold for serving white wines. Room temperature (typically around 70° F, assuming a standard living space) is too warm for red wines.
The easy answer is taking a white wine out of the fridge for 25-30 minutes, or putting the red wine in the fridge for 25-30 minutes. But who has time to wait, when you have a wine craving or thirsty friends over?
By the way, be careful about sticking that room temp white wine bottle in the freezer and forgetting it. The wine can easily freeze, pushing the cork out of the bottle.
Then you have a wine slushy!
I’ve also known people that simply warm the white wine by wrapping their hands around the bowl of the glass for a few minutes, or those that (gag) put ice cubes in the red wine to cool it down. Yes, I’m judging you.
Here’s where I became a “wine connoisseur”, according to my boss and some friends. To celebrate my upcoming birthday, I bought a 166 bottle, dual-zone wine fridge from WineEnthusiast.com. Why? I want my wine at the perfect serving temperature… all the time!
3. Food Pairing
Wine and food love each other.
When I began drinking wine with food, I was a mess. I loved sweet white wine, so I tried to pair it with everything.
For most pallets, however, one wine doesn’t go with every food.
Besides there are some really phenomenal partners in crime when it comes to food and wine. Red meat and bold reds. Pungent cheese and dessert wine. There are so many more on this amazing advanced pairing list from Wine Folly.
I still rarely make an effort pair my food and wine when I go out for dinner, with a few exceptions: sweet wine with my spicy Indian and red wine when I eat steak.
4. Old World vs. New World Names
Have you ever wondered why you can’t find a Bordeaux from California?
It’s because “Bordeaux” is a wine from a specific region of France. In fact, many old world wines, like French (for example Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne) or Italian and Spanish (for example Chianti, Rioja), are named for the area where the wine is made.
On the other hand, wines of the new world, like U.S., Argentina, Australia, are primarily named after the grape varietal (for example Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec).
Red Bordeaux is actually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, per WineTasting.com.
I don’t know about you, but when I discovered this fact, my mind was blown.
5. So Much More to Learn
The world of wine is seemingly endless. I have certainly found that there is still so much more that I’d like to learn. I want to:
- Have a better understanding of how price influences taste. Right now 90% of the wines I purchase are between $10-20. I already know what moving down the scale tastes like, and I’ve also sampled up the scale, but just a little. I want to taste more, just so I can know once and for all if a $300 bottle is worth the fuss.
- Identify specific wines by tasting. To know them so well that I can see, smell, and taste… then declare, at bare minimum, the varietal. No doubt, an awesome party trick at the very least.
- Know more about the multitude of regions of wine. From California to France to Australia and everywhere in between there are easily over a thousand. Whoa.
… Plus more.
I’ve come a long way. Many of you reading this could probably say the same.
What is one thing you learned during your own “wine evolution?”
Megan Vogel is a bubbly marketing professional in Atlanta, GA. Wine, marketing, and humor are her specialties. To learn more about Megan, you can visit www.meganvogel.com.