How to be a wine connoisseur: all the tips and tricks for the wine-tasting newbie
Brought to you by SuperValu
Swirl that glass, ladies.
As we get older, we get more critical with the wines we drink and want to further our knowledge about the variety of wines available to us. Gone are the days of buying the cheapest wine just because, well, it's the cheapest wine, and gone are the days of using any sort of glass or usable container from which to sip our wine.
No, no. At around the age of about 23, we become Wine Drinkers, and we need to start acting like it. No one wants the shame of someone finding out that you have absolutely no idea what you're doing when you go to buy a bottle of wine - knowledge is everything!
So we're going to give you a few tips and tricks to help you pick a good bottle of wine, to help you get the best experience out of it, and to help you at least look like you know what you're doing. Next time you get invited to a wine and cheese night or have your mates over for dinner, you'll be able to properly act the part.
Matching wine with food
There's technically no right or wrong answer with this but just don't treat wine as any old drink you're adding on. Wine should be as much a part of the meal as any other ingredient. What better way to accompany a meal than with a glass of fine wine? But it's all the better when you choose the correct wine to really complement the dish. A good rule of thumb for a successful pairing is actually to turn your focus away from the main part of the dish and look to the ingredients and sauces.
If you're having white fish, especially with a citrus dressing, add a wine with a citrus flavour like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Picpoul. If you're tucking into a steak with peppercorn sauce, red is the way to go because it will really bring out the spice of the peppercorn sauce - Shiraz is famous for its peppery taste so try that one out.
Storing your wine
Once opened, white wines usually last longer than red. White wine should be drunk cold so always store it in the fridge. If you've opened a red but won't be having it again for a while, put that in the fridge too. Refrigerating it will keep it fresh - just remember to take it out and let it come back to room temperature before you drink it.
Wine starts to deteriorate 24-36 hours after being opened, especially if there's a lot of air in the bottle. So if you drink your wine slowly, you might want to invest in an inexpensive air extractor to keep your bottles fresh for longer.
Air is great for wine - it really allows the aromas to flourish and it softens the texture, but only decant if you've got a group over and you plan to drink the entire bottle in one night. If you do plan to finish the wine, there's no question that decanting is the way to go. You don't need to have a fancy decanter or anything - a glass jug will do the trick just fine.
Understanding the labels
We always spend ages just staring at the label of a wine bottle because it just seems like that's what people do. Really we're just reading the name over and over again to look knowledgeable.
Don't be afraid to ask your in-store wine expert about each wine. If you come across a label that you don't recognise, ask what grape it is. If you don't know the grape, ask what it's similar too. You can then, of course, repeat all of your new-found knowledge to your friends and family when you bring the wine home.
As you get to know more wines, you'll become familiar with the different names and grapes. Eventually, you'll build up your own knowledge and you'll be able to skim those labels to find the grapes and flavours you like in seconds.
The swirl and sniff
We all swirl our wine glass before drinking but why? Well, it's for the exact same reason that we decant - swirling it helps air get to as much wine as possible and it loosens it up, improving its taste and texture.
The next step is to sniff - this essentially prepares our brain for what we're about to taste. It gets us wine-ready. Don't be shy about smelling either - stick your nose all the way into the glass. You can even close your eyes if you want to. Take in all those lovely aromas. Trust us, it will make the drinking experience so much better. It will also tell you if the wine is corked or not. Which brings us to our next point...
In case you don't know, corked wine is when the chemicals from the cork seep into the wine and make it taste off. You can't get sick from it but it doesn't make for a pleasant experience. If a wine doesn't taste right or is missing the usual fruity flavours, it's probably corked. Give it a sniff and if it smells like a wet newspaper or wet dog, you'll know for sure.
If the wine has a screw cap, it is much less likely to be "corked", so you don't have to worry about tasting those first if you don't want to.
SuperValu currently has an amazing French wine sale with some fantastic wines on offer. The sale kicked off on September 5 and will be going on for the whole month until September 26. Included in the sale are wines that will excite all tastes, no matter your preference. There are 12 "special guest" wines that have been specially selected from some of the best vineyards in France and they are limited editions. They are only available while the sale is on so make sure to get down to your local SuperValu and pick some up to begin your wine journey.
Why not organise a wine and cheese night yourself? Show off your skills.
Brought to you by SuperValu