How to Taste and Enjoy Wine Part Two “The Bottle”

Now that we have tackled the fear of “the Glass”, it’s time to move onto the bottle. “The Bottle” is less daunting and much easier to control, just by following a few simple rules. Today, we will dispel some local myths and review some ways to handle those annoying problems, such as how to order, store and enjoy your next bottle of wine. Wine is a living organism and, as such, should be treated with respect. How you treat, store and serve your wine will provide you with great enjoyment or fearful moments of frustration and disappointment. 

 How to order wine at a restaurant is the most daunting task most of us face when out with friends, associates or clients. What wine should I order? How much will it cost? Will I get stuck with an outrageous bill at the end of the meal? Will I like the wine I order?

 These are all legitimate questions we face when ordering wine at a restaurant. So, let’s begin. When you are unsure, follow these masterful rules to control your fate. First, try to decide what you and your guests want to order. If they want some wine to start, you may suggest everyone order a glass of wine of their choice and then relax and decide the evening’s meals. Once you have the menu decided, ask for the Sommelier or Wine Steward and take your time to discuss the menu choices. And, this is the most important tip; with the wine list open ask the Sommelier to point out several recommendations to accommodate the food menu you just discussed. This way you can be presented with different wine pairing and see what the prices are for each wine. No surprises at the end of the meal. You can create a discussion with the rest of your guests and involve them in the process. Everyone likes to be part of these dining decisions and you become the focal point of the process. This is also a great learning opportunity for you to master the art of ordering wine at a restaurant.

 The wine is ordered and presented at the table. You have control of “The Glass” and you evaluate the wine, (which you learned in the last article). There are only a few secondary choices to make. With a white wine, do you order an ice bucket? My preference is no, but it’s your choice. The wine is already chilled and probably too cold to really enjoy. Ask to have the wine poured and the bottle set on the table. As you eat and drink your wine it will gradually open and reward you with great flavor and food pairing. We tend to acclimate to the richer, complex flavors of a wine as it gradually opens and evolves as we eat. With a red wine, “do I decant or not?” There are two reasons to decant, first and foremost, we decant older wines to separate the sediment from the wine to retain the brilliant clear color and flavors of the wine or to give a big young wine the opportunity to open and mature for a more rewarding experience. Again, discuss this with your Sommelier for another opportunity to learn wine service at any restaurant.

 Now let’s take up wine storage at home. Proper storage will allow your wine to age and mature gracefully rewarding you year after year. What do you do with a bottle of wine you open and don’t finish? Red or white, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to three to four days depending on the quality of the wine. With a white just take it out and enjoy. With a red wine, take it out of the refrigerator and let it stand for at least 20 minutes so it can warm up before drinking. I also recommend you store the wine standing up with the cork in it. For storing your wine in the house, I recommend a wine storage unit but if you are just beginning, the idea is to protect the wine from its two biggest enemies, heat and light. The temperature of your wine is important but a constant temperature is the best for the wine. The best place to store your wine is in the middle of the house in a place as cool and dark as you can find. Try picking a closet in the middle of the house. Store your wine in a case box turned on its side and shoved into the back of the closet.  Another great hint is, never buying more than two to four bottles of any wine unless you have the resources to build a large cellar and stock it with as many bottles as you please. The only exception is your house wines, buy it by the case. When you buy cases of wine you will limit the amount of wine you can collect with limited space and as you grow your cellar; your taste preferences will change.  There is nothing worse than opening the first bottle of a case you purchased two years ago and say to yourself, why did I buy this wine? Don’t worry, the more choices you have to select from the longer your wines will last in small quantities and reward you.

 And last, but by no means least important, don’t get into a rut buying only one type of wine. There is a great big wonderful world of wine for you. There are about 10,000 grape varietals to explore and many enjoyable moments to experience the joys of wine. So drink, experiment and build a cellar that speaks of you and reflects this great big world of wine.  

 Again, I hope this helps you on your journey experimenting and learning about the wonderful world of wine.

Comments are closed.