The world of wine can be complicated – I mean, there are people who dedicate loads of time and money to studying wines – which is why it’s perfectly normal to feel a little bit lost when you’re in a situation where you have to order or talk about wine.
But hey, don’t let that deter you from enjoying wines, because that would be a damn shame (cos wines are delicious). Justin Dry, CEO of online wine retailer Vinomofo, dishes some tips on how to drink wine like a proper adult without coming off as pretentious or trying too hard.
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1) You can still talk about wine without using all that jargon
When the professionals talk about wine, they use terminology like acidity, body, tannins and structure. It’s great if you know what they mean, but if you don’t, you can still have a conversation about what you just drank. “Just be honest and bring it back to the things that you know. First of all, do you like it? Is it dry, is it sweet, does it remind you of something? Like you can say it smells like peach or butterscotch, there’s nothing wrong with that,” says Justin. “But you’ll look silly if you pretend to know something that you don’t – and for people who know about wine, that can be really easy to tell.”
And if you’re stuck at a table with a wine aficionado and you’re not sure what more you can say to contribute to the conversation? Just turn it around and ask them what they think of the wine instead, they’ll be more than happy to share and you’ll get to pick up a few pointers along the way.
2) Swirl, smell, sip, and roll
There’s quite a bit of etiquette surrounding wine, to the point where it can feel a little stuffy. But here’s the basics that you should know, because this will help you appreciate your wine better. First you swirl the wine in the glass to release the aromas, then you hold it to your nose to smell. Then you pause for two seconds to think about the wine, or at least, look like you’re thinking about it, then take a sip. “When you’re tasting it, the most important thing is to roll it around your mouth, because the different parts of your tongue picks up different things. You’ll also get a feel of the texture this way,” Justin advises.
3) You don’t necessarily have to pair a red meat with a red wine
White or sparkling wine is usually paired with seafood, a shiraz with a steak, and Chardonnay with oysters. And while the general rule of thumb is to pair white wines with white meats and red wines with red meats, it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Justin pointed out that winemakers are now trying new things: for example, making white wines with richer structures that you can also pair with red meats. “The lines are being blurred, so it really comes down to what you think. I wouldn’t put any restrictions on it. If you like this with that, then that’s great – who’s to tell you that it’s not for you?”
4) If you’re in charge of ordering, ask everyone in their group what their preferences are
Let’s say you’re at a restaurant and your friends ask you to get a bottle of wine first, or if there’s a house party and your friends told you to pick up some bottles along the way, don’t stress yourself out about choosing the “best” wines. Just ask them what they like and get something that caters to everyone – or at least the majority.
5) And finally – don’t let anyone tell you what you should or should not enjoy!
Case in point: the Rosé. It was once considered a lesser kind of wine, and haters might still snub it because it’s pink and pretty and cheap, but there’s a movement towards rosés in the wine industry.
“I think rosés are amazing!” says Justin with a lot of enthusiasm when the conversation steered towards rosés. “The ones from Provence in Southern France are so good, and they’re perfect for Singapore’s climate too.”
“I understand that wine can be intimidating, but it really shouldn’t be. Just drink what you want!”