Wine is indisputably one of the best liquids on the planet. That’s a proven fact. We’ll drink it out of a glass, a cup, a bottle, or even a box (yes, university happened). But as much as we would like to wear our ‘save water, drink wine’ t-shirt out in public, maybe those days are behind us. Growing up doesn’t mean drinking less, it means looking like you know more. If you’re thinking it’s time to class up that wine-drinking act, we’ve got you covered. Follow these tips and people will be silently intimidated by your wine knowledge at your next dinner party for sure.
1. Know what to buy
If you’re having a dinner party that involves wine, your first step to looking classy is pairing your wine properly. Now, things can get tricky and complicated with this but there are some simple rules you can follow to look like you know what you’re doing. White wine is for light foods like chicken, fish and veggies. Red wine is for richer foods like beef, lamb and pasta. Use this chart from Wine Folly if you want to get technical with specific kinds of wine for specific foods.
2. Before serving
Yes, there’s a step between buying the wine and drinking it. A few, actually, if you want to be fancy. Knowing how to store your wine right up until the moment you serve it not only makes you look good, it actually makes it taste better. As a general rule, keep your wine away from direct sunlight and at a temperature between 4 and 18 degrees Celsius. When you’re serving wine, abide by the 15 Minute Rule. That is, put reds in the fridge 15 minutes before you serve and keep whites in the fridge until 15 minutes before you serve. Well, Goldilocks, looks like those wines are just right.
3. Opening the bottle
Now, this one takes a little skill so you may need some practice. When you’re peeling the foil away from the top of the bottle, do it from the bottom lip rather than right at the top so there’s no chance of frayed metal touching the wine when you pour. Also, if you want to look your best (and like you have a clue what you’re doing) don’t put the bottle between your legs for leverage. The most common bottle openers are the waiter’s corkscrew (pictured below) and the winged corkscrew (the one that looks like a little man). If you need some help with technique, Wine Enthusiast has some video tutorials that might help.
4. Aerating and Decanting
Do you have to? No. Will it make you look super fancy and cultured? Yes. You’ve probably heard that you’re supposed to let wine breathe. Aeration is the extreme version of that. Basically, your objective is to expose your red wine to oxygen which changes the flavour and (in most cases) makes it taste better. You can buy an aerator for your wine, but decanting it does the trick too. That just means pouring your wine from the bottle to a large glass decanter. Also, how fancy does that look?
Finally. Now, you’ve talked a good game up until now. Everyone assumes that you know what you’re doing. You wouldn’t want to disappoint your audience by just gulping your glass down. Wine expert Angela Aiello says she likes to appreciate every glass of wine by observing the colour then swirling it (extra aeration), smelling it, sipping it and swishing it. That’s the best way to appreciate all the work that went into making the wine and all the work you did getting here. Plus, it looks pretty good too. Just watch how many people copy you.
Now that you know all your wine basics, you can drink to your heart’s content and still look like a class act. Cheers!