stained book

Top 10 things I know about wine…but I could be wrong.

 1.       Dry means Not Sweet, sometimes…

I know this one can be confusing because there’s some wine that actually ‘feels’ dry in your mouth.  That dried out cottony feeling in your mouth after you drink some red wines is caused by Tannin and if you like it (lots of people do) you should ask for it.  Just don’t ask for a dry wine…ask for a tannic wine.  If you don’t like that dry (tannic) feeling and you ask for a wine that’s ‘not too dry’ you’ll get something that will taste a little sweet.  Got it?  Yea, me either.  
This is one of those areas where the terms are confusing so I recommend not using them.  Just don’t ask for a “Dry Wine“.  Use your words.  Ask for a wine that’s “not sweet but is a little tannic”.  It’s more precise and has the added benefit of actually describing what you want.

2.       Most of the red wine you drink isn’t the right temperature

 This one actually makes me a little crazy, and if you think that caring about the temperature of wine is just being prissy, drink your next Budweiser at room temperature and see how much you enjoy it.  The red wine you have at your local restaurant is served at ‘room temperature’ which is like 70 degrees, and there just isn’t much wine that tastes very good at 70 degrees.  In fact, there isn’t much liquid of any kind that tastes good at 70 degrees.   Fortunately there’s a simple solution;  just ask the bartender/server if they would put the bottle on ice for just a minute.  Ask nice, be apologetic (you don’t want to seem prissy now, do you?).  In a minute or two not only will your wine taste better, the next guy who gets a glass poured from that bottle will thank you.

“This wine is too warm” is no less reasonable than “This beer is too warm”, unless you’re from the UK, in which case it seems your beer can’t BE too warm and I just don’t get why you would bother drinking it at all.

3.       Expensive doesn’t mean Better

This one should be self-evident, but it’s not.  And I’m just as guilty as the next guy.  I look at a wine list – particularly the by-the-glass section – and I just naturally think that the most expensive one is the “better” one.   But I do my best to fight through that, even if it’s Friday evening and I just closed the Smithhaven account and I feel like kicking out all the stops.  When my wits are about me I still try to go for the QUALITIES of the wine, not the supposed QUALITY of the wine.  Besides which, I defy the average drinker to distinguish between an $8 glass of wine and a $13 glass of wine.   I’ll be pissed if I hate the cheap glass – regardless of ‘quality’ – and will gladly pay $12 if I love the wine.  As always, go for the one you like best.  Which brings us to….

4.       Better doesn’t mean More Enjoyable Today

I once went to a wine tasting with my sister and brother-in-law (they’re both pretty sophisticated wine drinkers and invited me to one of their events).  The subject that night was  First Growth Bordeaux… a category in the wine world comparable to Victoria’s Secret Models to everyone else on earth.  These were young wines, freshly dropped by their producers into the world; newborn giraffes who couldn’t stand or eat leaves from a tall tree or do any real Giraffe things at all.  And far from being cute or adorable or gamboling, they were awful.  And I don’t mean ‘not to my particular taste’.  I mean undrinkable.  Just Plain Terrible.  But in this blind tasting I’ll be damned if the experts couldn’t tell which JPT wine was produced by which VSM  producer!  And they concluded that #3 would, in fact, be glorious in 20 years, that #5 had been fermented with too much…oh I don’t remember what….but they all agreed that these wines, once they arrived, would express their greatness in ways I might never understand.  They also seemed to feel that these same wines might well take more decades than I had left on earth to get there.

They were undeniably great wines (I guess, although I denied it plenty on my way home that night as I thought about how much going to that tasting had cost me) but they weren’t anywhere near ready to drink.  And I ask you to remember that when you’re out trying to impress your client/date/father-in-law and see some expensive Barolo on the wine list that’s about 2 years old and twice as much as the other wine that the sommelier says is “drinking well now”.  Buy the cheaper one the somm recommends.  (You ARE talking to the sommelier at this point, yes?  Nothing impresses fathers-in-law like you being able to talk to the sommelier with anything that even resembles aplomb, Mr. Bond.)  If you like it – which I’m pretty sure you will – palm him or her a $20 at the end of the night (the sommelier, not your father-in-law).  You’ll come out ahead on price AND he or she will remember you next time.   If you must, go to your local wine store, buy a 2 year old Barolo and leave it to your youngest  daughter in your will.  She’ll thank you when she drinks it on the HyperLoop.

5.       Screw tops are cool

‘Nuf said.

To be continued…..