How to Taste and Enjoy Wine – Part One “The Glass”

The ability to taste and enjoy wine at home or at a restaurant is no great secret. Most of us feel intimidated and self conscious when at a party or giving a party or at a restaurant with friends or associates. The etiquette of the glass can strike fear in the most stalwart of us, reducing us to a fearful shell, intimidated and watching everyone around you to make sure you don’t commit a WINE faux pas.

Relax; take a deep breath, exhale and take heart; there is help. There are only a few simple things to remember for you to “take control of the glass”.

The glass:

Any good wine glass with a bulbous shape and a stem will work for wine drinking. The better the glass the more your tasting will be heightened and the more you will be rewarded as you enjoy your wine. You can enhance the aromas and taste of a wine if you find glasses that come to a flat edge at the top rather than a rolled edge. This allows the wine to aerate properly and gives you a much truer aroma and taste. Fill the glass no more than half full, I prefer about one third to half full, this allows me to swirl the wine and not spill it. This also allows the wine a great opportunity to open, concentrate in the glass and reward you as you sniff and taste the wine. Now the swirl, the most awkward and fearful ritual of the glass. How do I execute this maneuver and not spill it all over me, the table or worse yet a friend?

Now the trick: Always leave the glass on the table; this cuts your chance of mishap by two thirds. Now, with the glass on the table place your index and middle fingers on top of the base and rotate the glass in a very short, rapid circular motion, this will feel awkward at first but as you practice you will get better and faster.

Use the stem to hold the glass when drinking, not the bulb. This accomplishes two tasks, first you will not warm the wine with your hand and second you will never leave ugly finger prints on the glass. The first is most important for the enjoyment of the wine. You want your white to stay cold and your red to not get too warm. The second is just esthetics and pleasing to the people around you.

Never add ice cubes to wine, this dilutes the wine and flattens the taste. Keep your wine in an ice bucket if you like it very cold.

Now the greatest fear! You’re at a restaurant, you order the wine, and the waiter presents the wine, pouring you a taste. You look around at the others at the table and you are totally alone facing their stares. The waiter is waiting and you, glass in hand, have seconds to render an analysis of the wine, signaling the waiter to pour the wine. You sheepishly pick up the glass, swirl it in hand, and take a quick taste as everyone awaits your prognostication. Fearful and shy you say “Okay”.  Take control; you now know how to swirl the glass without spillage and this moment is yours. Take your time, swirl several times, this aerates the wine, raise the glass and sniff at least twice and then taste. This ritual is purposeful and needed to confirm your wine choice. You are searching for off odors, such as a corked wine, or odd flavors in the wine. If the wine is corked it will smell like wet cardboard. If the flavors are off it could be oxidized or flawed from the winemaking process. You are in total control so be brave and shine.

I hope this helps to quell some of your greatest fears and starts you on the road to confidence and enjoying wine, now that you can “take control of the glass”.

Watch for my next article “the bottle”.



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