You order a bottle of rosé and your dining companion looks at you in horror and exclaims, “You drink pink wine? I never drink the pink stuff!” Or perhaps you order a white wine to have with scallops and your friends all clamor at the table, “Look he’s drinking white wine! We never drink white wine — just red!”
Maybe you’ve been at a wine tasting and heard someone ask, “What’s the alcohol percentage on that wine? You should only drink under-14-percent alcohol wines!” Or maybe you’ve heard your wine snob friend say: “Real men don’t drink rosé” or “I only drink cabernet sauvignon from NAPA”! The list goes on and on, and it never gets less frustrating to hear. Who exactly gives anyone the right to be a “wine cop,” anyway? Why is wine the only beverage people have such strong opinions about? How can someone be right or wrong about a beverage?
Like your favorite color or your choices in music, nobody can put restrictions on what you’re supposed to like or enjoy about wine. There is, however, a key difference between somebody’s preference and the few things you should really be firm about when it comes to enjoying wine. To help you understand what those things are, behold, my 10 Wine Constitutional Commitments to enjoy ANY wine:
1. Glasses do matter. Big open bowls are crucial for letting a red wine breathe and open up in flavor. Smaller bowl glasses focus a white wine’s aroma and flavor. Some reds, such as pinot noir, need a smaller bowl, too. Plastic glasses and cheap tumblers ruin most wines!
2. Ambiance affects your ability to enjoy wine. For example, loud restaurant music or a rambunctious nearby table makes properly sensing a wine virtually impossible.
3. Serving temperature matters. A quick trick for the casual wine drinker: put your red wine in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before drinking it; for your whites, put them in the refrigerator overnight and take them out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before drinking it.
4. If a wine is tainted by TCA or a bad cork and oxygen, it’s permanent. It will not get better in the glass as time goes by. Insist that the bottle be replaced by the restaurant.
5. It sounds obvious, but good grapes make good wine. A producer can’t make a good wine out of bad grapes, but can make a bad wine out of good grapes if the producer isn’t careful.
6. Avoid wine ruts and sticking with the same wines. Experiment and taste different varietals. You may find you will like something new as your wine horizons broaden.
7. To really learn about wine, taste the same varietal but from different countries and producers. You also can’t have true learning experience if you try five or six different varietals in a row at one tasting.
Try a different varietal each month from different countries and producers. In 12 months you’ll know 12 varietals really well.
8. The producer matters. There are simply good wine producers and average ones. Stick to the good ones.
The wine your uncle Harry made in the basement 20 years ago and you still have in the bottle for that special celebration will not be drinkable.
9. Avoid silly wine adjectives like herbaceous, minerality and other words no one really knows.
10. Last but certainly not least, drink and enjoy what wines you personally like not what someone else tells you that you should like!
Wine is meant to be enjoyed , not to be intimidating. The next time you are accosted by a “wine cop,” insist on your wine constitutional amendments.