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Thursday, September 15, 2011

297

How to Enjoy Wine, or True Things vs. Total BS About Wine

For some reason wine has become this thing. This huge inflated pompous thing that people have invented corny language around, jacked up costs for, and made intimidating as all hell. Then you find yourself retreating to your couch with whatever's cheapest and goes well with sweats, or smiling through a glass of something at a dinner party that you can't pronounce and aren't sure if you're supposed to enjoy, instead of actually enjoying the wine.

Well, here's the thing, the only thing, really, about wine: It's all about what you like. It's like any other thing, a simple thing that gets complicated by the fact that knowing what you like depends on lots and lots of other things, things you've heard of, like the grape and the region and the year, and there's a lot of additional things within those things. But if you know a few things, things that contribute to the major thing, which is just what you like, then you can stride into Trader Joe's with confidence, or order a bottle for the table without hesitation, or between tears/laughter (depending on what kind of night you're having), when your girlfriend stops to exclaim, “Damn, this is good wine. What is this?” you'll actually KNOW. So how do you figure out what you like? Follow me.

Care. You probably drink a ton of wine. When you like something, like really smack your lips, and pour yourself another. How often do you look at the label and note the grape, winery, year, and region? Because that's a really good start. Start there.

Try something new. You wanna be the girl who sticks with the California Roll of wines for the rest of her life? No? Then step out of your comfort zone. Order something you've never heard of. Order it because it has a pretty label. Order it even though it sounds more like an STD. Order it because the server is cute. There, now you're carpeing the diem.

Wine comes from grapes. I know you know, but stick with me. They're either red or white, and they have names. You got the staples, like Merlot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. There's also Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Sangiovese — OK, you know, there's tons. While no two bottles taste quite the same, there are certain elements that each grape possesses. For example, Chardonnay is sort of buttery and thicker, while Sauvignon Blanc is usually lighter and drier. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to taste fruity, like actual grapes, while Syrah tends to taste more like the earth those grapes come from. These tastes can be tweaked by the harvesting and barreling process, but don't worry about that just yet. If you start paying attention and trying new things, eventually you'll get an idea of what tastes like what.

(Snob tip: Syrah and Shiraz are the same thing, but Shiraz is usually Australian or South African. Petit Sirah is a totally different grape. If some snob is giving you a hard time, drop these bombs and they'll likely stfu.)

Much like size, region matters. Here's three reasons why: 1) Some wines are named for the region they come from, like Champagne, or Bordeaux, or only come from a certain region, like Tempranillo — a grape often used to make Rioja, which comes from the Rioja region of Spain. 2) Some grapes are grown all over the place, but because of different climates, seasons, rainfall, etc., they taste different from region to region. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, universally known as the grape that's down for whatever. 3) Because of different climates, seasons, rainfall, etc. specific to each region, different grapes from the same region tend to have the same taste to them, even though they all taste different. Sort of like CPK pizzas.

(Just recently, I realized that I don't really like most French wine. I just don't. And I felt bad about it for a second, because France is IT when it comes to wine, the snobbiest and most intimidating of them all, and I felt like I should like it, all of it, but then one day I thought to myself, “You know what? It's too sharp for me. I don't like French wine, OK? I just don't. So go sacre bleu yourself, frenchies.”)

The year also matters. In any given year, shit happens. Sometimes it rains twice as much as it's supposed to, sometimes it doesn't rain at all. Sometimes there's a frost and all the grapes shrivel up and die (sad). Sometimes the stars align and the sunshine smiles on the grapes, and the grapes smile back, and it rains when they're thirsty and it's dry when they're not, and our little grape friends go on to make delicious wine because they love us — like in 2008. So if you know what kind of grapes you like and what region you like, you can look on the internets and all sorts of nerdy wine blogs and charts will pop up telling you if a particular year produced the kind of wine the vintners were hoping for. See how we're breaking it down now? Good.

Know how to describe what you like. But use your own words. Forget wine terms, or what's written on the back of the bottle. When you're trying that something new, really take a second to taste the wine on your tongue, in your throat, what it does to your sinuses. How does it make you feel when you're drinking it? Does it go better with sitting in a dark room, listening to Cat Power and thinking about your ex, or better over a bonfire and passing the bottle back and forth with friends? Get creative and specific, and if you're ordering from someone who knows their stuff, they'll know exactly what you want.

For example, I like big, old world dry reds that taste like an old leather shoe, fill my whole mouth up, and make me feel like I should be smoking a cigar (I don't smoke cigars) and playing bocce. If I tell this to a sommolier, not only will she know exactly what I'm talking about, but she'll probably bring me an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Syrah ... or something new and awesome that I've never tried before but will probably enjoy.

FAQ:

WTF does "dry" mean? It's wet, ain't it? I'm including this in here because I wondered this for YEARS but was afraid to ask. I know that sounds like a middle-school sex pamphlet title but it's true. Basically, dry means now you taste it, now you don't. The flavor just dances on your tongue for a second and then it's gone — little to no lingering aftertaste, and yet strangely savory.

I thought a “bouquet” was for flowers? Why do they keep saying that? It, as well as “nose,” is a fancy way of saying what a wine smells like, and you can totally roll your eyes when anyone says it to you.

What about decanting? What's up with that? Decanting is a fancy way of letting wine air out, and it's legit. It's basically wine's way of unbuttoning the top button of its pants after a big meal. You know how awesome that is, right? Well, wine feels the same way. And unlike you, tastes better as a result.

When the waiter pours a little into the glass, and looks at me all expectantly, what does he want from me? He wants you to nod your head so he can get to pouring for the other people you're with, which you should unless it tastes like complete ass.

Is more-expensive better? Hell no. But sometimes, yeah. It's a lot like clothing — it doesn't need to be expensive to be awesome, but the first time you try on a dress that's tailored to your body perfectly and made of a material that you never want to take off, you get why it costs $300. It's the difference between Forever 21 and your favorite boutique. Sometimes a bottle is expensive because the vineyard read the grapes bedtime stories every night and knit each grape little blankies so they didn't catch colds. I guess the takeaway is to not feel pressured to buy something because it's expensive, but craftsmanship costs you (in a good way).

Do I need to pair white with chicken and red with meat? What about rose? Or zinfandel? I mean, whatever. Seriously, drink what you want with who you want, where you want, when you want. Trust your taste buds and you can't go wrong.

I hope this helps, my lovely lushes. Once you know what you like, though, don't get snobby! Keep trying new things, ask questions, and have fun. There's tons to learn and appreciate; it's a whole big, sloshy world to discover. Cheers!

Allison Davis is the quality assurance tester for Idle Cellars and is drinking a glass of it right now.

Photo by fredredhat, via Shutterstock

297 Comments / Post A Comment

brigidb

I always thought all wine was made from red grapes but the color of the wine depended on how long they let it sit with the skins? Have I been horribly misled?

Elvis Costello's Spectacles

@brigidb The colour of wine *does* depend on the skins, but most white wine is made from white grapes. There are some exceptions - you *can* get white wine from red grapes basically as long as they're squished quickly (technical term). So you're half right!

musicello11

@brigidb
I actually was looking up info about types of wine the other day, and that is true. White wine doesn't use skins

curryspice

@brigidb Probably the most famous example of white wine made from red grapes is Champagne. 2 of the 3 approved grapes are red (Pinot Noir and Pinot Menieur, the third is Chardonnay, a white grape), but yes, with a few exceptions, the color comes from the skins not the pulp, most grapes have clear juice.

brigidb

@curryspice I see, I projected information about champagne (the best kind of wine) onto all wines! Thanks for the info y'all.

Elvis Costello's Spectacles

This is a wonderfully accessible guide! I tend to cling to French wines because I worked in a wine cellar in Burgundy so it's what I know best, but I need to get over the thought of being a novice in other wines and get out there and drink a hell of a lot more of what the world has to offer. I mean, sample. Responsibly.

Ophelia

Also, to expand re: the little bit the waiter pours you to taste - it's NOT to see whether you like it, it's to confirm that the bottle hasn't gone off and turned to vinegar (which I think happens more w/older wines?). I feel like people know this, but sometimes they don't? Anyway...

Melusina

@Ophelia To further expand: Any wine with a real cork can be "corked" and screw tops occasionally are spoiled as well. I've read that anywhere between 1% and 8% of bottles with a real cork are corked. And sometimes entire batches of wine get spoiled or tainted at that level, rather than something going wrong with the individual bottle.

ormaisonogrande

@Ophelia I was always like, "but how will I know if it's corked?" If it's "corked" you will totally know as soon as you taste it. It's happened to me twice and there was no doubt about it. I mean, maybe if it is the first time you have ever drunk wine maybe you might not be sure but otherwise, it's totally obvious.

The first time was actually kind of awesome 'cause I got to be all hoity toity and tell the waiter "I'm terribly sorry but this wine is corked." The second time not so much because it was at my house.

parallel-lines

@ormaisonogrande Does it taste weird or off? Does it have bits of cork in it?

ormaisonogrande

@parallel-lines It tastes kind of moldey-esque. Not exactly moldy but it's the closest thing I can think of to describe it. Also maybe a little burnt, but again not exactly burnt. It will smell wrong, too.

Ophelia

@ormaisonogrande Almost like vinegar, but musty? That's I guess the only way I can think to describe it?

jacqueline
jacqueline

@parallel-lines Sometimes little bits of cork can get into it (I guess depending on how good of a job you do during the uncorking). That's why a true gentleman pours a little into his glass first, then pours you a full glass.

curryspice

@Ophelia -exactly, musty is right! If it is corked, it will smell like a basement after a flood, or your hand after petting a wet dog. It might be subtle or it might be obvious as soon as you open the bottle.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@parallel-lines Best analogy I've ever heard is that corked wine smells and tastes like wet cardboard. You'll know right away.

AJ Sparkles

@Ophelia Also on the thread of the waiter-tasting senario- SMELLING THE CORK- Ag, I hate when people do this- DON'T DO THIS- It will just smell like cork & it's not gonna tell you if the wine is off. Plus it just looks so pompously juicebox-tastic

Persimmon

@Ophelia Yeah, the waiter gives you the cork to inspect it & make sure it hasn't broken or disintegrated into the wine. Not to smell it. If it has broken (when I was waiting tables I mangled my fair share of corks) in a really crumbly way, you can have the waiter decant it through a strainer. If it's just a couple of nicks, dude, you can handle it, the waiter has other tables!

atipofthehat

@AJ Sparkles

Oh, thanks. Now that I've acquired antique cork-sniffer's tongs and a fine old lanyard to keep them at hand, you tell me people might take me for a pretentious toffling?

smidge

thank you, thank you, thank you for this lovely guide. I used to work at a wine bar and now some of my friends get all nervous about serving me wine with dinner because they think I'll be really picky about it, but as long as it tastes good, I don't care how much it cost/if it's French/if it was on sale at Binny's.

Charismatic Megafauna

@smidge
One thing I hope you bring (as the de facto wine expert among your friends) is smarts about pricing. I think it's so good if someone can spot a ripoff. "Hey, wait a minute, this wine is marked up way too much."

(For general information, the usual markup is around 100% over retail.)

Ophelia

@Charismatic Megafauna Totally agree on the budget front. I think there's a pretty huge difference between $5-10 wine and $15-20 wine, and then another big jump when you hit $50 or so (I'm talking retail here, not restaurant prices). But frankly, there are so many good wines to find in that $15 range that it truly isn't always worth going up in price.

Also, sometimes with restaurants that have a decent but not huge wine list, you can find good wines if you go for a blend, or a less-common grape (look under "Other Reds" on a menu, for example). They can be cheaper, and if someone has tried them and stacked them up with what they know will be popular (Cabernet et al), then they're often really good and can be surprisingly different.

I <3 wine. Mmm. I would drink it with a straw.

Charismatic Megafauna

@Ophelia
Yes! "Other Reds" is where maaaaaaaaaany nice-priced gems are found. This would also be my conversation about France - enjoying French wines requires understanding the customary grapes blended in the various regions' traditional wines. Classic example of education -> enjoyment. If you hate Cab or Merlot, probably don't waste your time and money on Bordeaux. If you love Pinot, start ordering from Burgundy.
(Blended wines unfortunately often expose the all-too-common situation of restaurant staff not being able to tell you much about a wine on the list. Knowing about traditional blends will really help with ordering French wine.)

florabora

@Ophelia I do drink wine with a straw. You should go for it.

out of order

@florabora @Ophelia
Totally have done the wine straw thing, in a cup with a lid (hockey games). I am pro any method of drinking where the chances of me spilling are reduced.

punkahontas

@out of order Certain Broadway shows now serve wine (all drinks) in souvenir cups with lids and straws! My sisters both got them when we went to see West Side Story.

Saiko

@punkahontas You get actual "sippy cups" with your beer at Book of Mormon. I brought mine home all excited, then my friend's husband pointed out that I was not likely to ever drink out of a sippy cup again

Ophelia

@Saiko ...but wouldn't it be perfect for use on public transport?

out of order

@Saiko I specifically bought some plastic tumbers from Tupperware BECAUSE they came with lids that could act like a sippy cup. Perfect for travelling, and drunken dancing around campgrounds.

Saiko

@Ophelia @out of order Aw yeah dudes! Thanks for the votes of confidence--it didn't occur to me to disdain the sippy cup until he said that. That guy always has a stick up his ass, anyway:)

Charismatic Megafauna

THIS IS SO GOOD! Finally some legitimately useful wine advice! Most wine advice is useless because it falls into one of two camps:
1.) Don't worry about it, just drink what you like! (With no advice about how to discover what you like.)
2.) Drink gallons and gallons of wine incessantly every day until your palate knows everything there is to know about wine! (This is known as an Unfunded Mandate.)

Allison's advice is absolutely spot-on (though I want to talk about France sometime). You don't have an unlimited budget to learn about wine through your senses alone. So, you also have to use your other brain parts. Read things, ask questions, take notes. It's all rewarding! If you don't get why a great wine is considered "great" - give the "experts" the benefit of the doubt - let yourself be taught. This will make you so much more confident and it will save you from lots of mistakes.

smidge

@Charismatic Megafauna work those free wine tastings!!

curryspice

@Charismatic Megafauna -may I add, take a photo of the label if you find a new wine you really like? Or write it down, if you are at a restaurant, they may be able to write it down for you or peel off the label. Take this info to a shop you trust, and they will be thrilled to work from there to find a similar wine.

Leslie Popplewell

@Charismatic Megafauna There's a great app called cor.kz, where you can log in your wine stock holdings, the label is already uploaded for you in most cases, you can make notes about what you like or don't, and read other people's reviews. That's fun and helps you remember things-- my own memory for a particular new fave is about 5 minutes. By the time I think I should write that down for future reference, it's out of my head. I spend a lot of time at the store looking at labels and wondering which was the one I liked so much last time.

Kneetoe

My favorite wine is called vodka. But then after a while I move on to other wine.

saythatscool

@Kneetoe That "other wine" is named Tracy and she's only 14 years old, kneetoe.

Kneetoe

@saythatscool

You're saying that's not sufficiently aged?!? I thought we were trying to make this easier?

MoonBat

@Kneetoe & saythatscool
Have I told you two, lately, how much I love you both?

Petrichoria

So, this is like the Hairpin version of the Bible, right?

gimlet

@LaFabuliste Oh man, can we please get a guide like this for all the alcohols? Like, this can be our Genesis, and the beer guide will be our Exodus, and we can do one for whiskey that will be Leviticus, and Vodka can be Numbers (because it all tastes the same SUCK IT VODKA DRINKERS). Then it will REALLY be a Bible.

I used to be religious as a teenager, but now I just drink a lot, so your comment struck a real chord.

smidge

@gimlet I am both religious and a drinker--so I say YES, YES PLEASE DRINKING BIBLE

Tragically Ludicrous

@gimlet ugh why is everyone up in arms about vodka here? THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SAFE PLACE.

out of order

@gimlet Fantastic idea, please please please.
I had some Scotch when i was in the UK that was a delight to swallow. Thought I'd impress the boy with a bottle of Scotch last christmas and it was like solvent. I needs the help.

katekari

@gimlet: Yessss we need one of these guides for all the alcohols, and YES we need one for vodkas because NO they do NOT all taste the same *footstomp* and also especially one for whiskeys, which I love, but which confuse me so.

stephanieboland

@out of order Scotch isn't actually too confusing! There are several things that help determine its character. First of all, region. To oversimplify only slightly: Lowland (honey, caramel), Highland (floral, heather), Speyside (Peaty) and Islay (Smokey). Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of crossover with those last too. The type of barrel used is important, too: Scotch barrels are seasoned by other alcohol, so check to see if you're going to get the tang of sherry or the more mellow bourbon. Older scotch is often a little mote mellow, too- a % of alcohol is lot every year to the angels. Distillation makes Scotch smoother, so a triple-distilled will be more smooth than a twice-distilled. Some suggestions to start you off: Auchentoshan (Auchie!), a triple distilled lowland and a beaut; Glenmorangie, a nice Highland, and, for a good wiff of peat, Talisker or Laphroiag. Sorry for any errors; on my phone!

gimlet

@katekari I hereby volunteer myself for the gin chapter of this saga. Not because I'm any kind of qualified expert, but hot damn am I enthusiastic!

stephanieboland

@stephanieboland I actually quite like all the typos- I think it adds an authenticity to discussing alcohol.

Charismatic Megafauna

@stephanieboland
I am emailing your comment to myself so I can access it on my phone! SUPER HELPFUL!

gimlet

@stephanieboland <3 you just earned yourself a place in Hairpin Heaven as far as I'm concerned.

out of order

@stephanieboland Thank you! I see a Scotch tasting date, using this information, in my future.

stephanieboland

@LaFabuliste In my personal experience, splitting half a bottle of Auchie can lead to either lots of kissing or tucking someone into bed at 10pm, depending on how quickly you drink it. Your date will probably be more impressed if you spell Laphroaig correctly, though, rather than how I did above. So much for my Gaelic...

The Lady of Shalott

@LaFabuliste Maaaaaaaaaan I LOVE the idea of the Hairpin Guide to Alcohol! I hereby nominate myself to do a chapter of the Bible exclusively devoted to Cheap Booze. Because sometimes, you need cheap shit.

Mame16th

@gimlet If for any reason you are unable to fulfill your duties on the gin chapter, I will happily complete them for you.

gimlet

@Mame16th I'm sure there's more than enough gin love/knowledge to go around, my dear.

Hambulance

@out of order @stephanieboland I had a Scotch rep actually give me a hilariously spot-on rule of thumb... The easier the name of the scotch/region to pronounce/read: the less chance of a peat taste (I for one HATE peaty scotch. It tastes like drinking a hospital). The more difficult to pronounce: the heavier the peat.

I blew him off when he said that, but it has secretly proven itself time and time again.

Bittersweet

@The Lady of Shalott: Yes please on the Hairpin Guide to Alcohol. Last installment should be a 5000-word screed from Balk on the various bourbons and how they take a bit of the pain out of daily existence.

Melusina

@Hambulance What about Ardbeg? Pretty easy to say but definitely the peatiest.

Hambulance

@Melusina Hmmmm.... Maybe a rule about starting with a vowel? Are there any others???

Or maybe its the exception TO the rule?

Either way, it's good to know and I thank you for informing me. I could have ruefully snagged a bottle thinking I could drink it [gags obscenely].

Persimmon

@gimlet I AM A VODKA DRINKER AND I WILL FIGHT YOU.

Kakapo

@Melusina Laphroaig ten year is the peatiest I've found, except for a delightful thing called "The Peat Monster" that I bought for my dad a couple of years ago. Ardbeg is a good bit mellower, I find. But it's a great scotch.

nice_belt

@LaFabuliste start with lagavulin.
just kidding, apparently (the) dalwhinnie is, like, a beginner's scotch in Scotland. It's great stuff. Also most scotch's are called, "the ____," which i think only scotch can pull off.

Also when you drink scotch, ask for a (rocks) glass of water to go with it. A good bartender will nod knowingly. What you do is take one of those little stirrers and fill it with a little water which you then drop into your scotch. It "opens" it up. Swear to hashem, this is not a myth.

LAST TIP: drinking scotch is a 3 part/breath process. first time i was shown this procedure changed my life, not kidding. 1. glass to nose, inhale through *mouth*. exhale while bringing glass to lips; 2. inhale through nose while scotch hits the tongue. let it rest while you exhale; 3. inhale through nose and toss the scotch to back of your throat and swallow it or whatever. then you go on breathing like otherwise, tip your bartender, smile, etc

Melusina

@Hambulance I would hate to see any good single malt go to waste, we can't have you accidentally gagging on Ardbeg! I think the real rule is just avoid anything from Islay if you don't like peat. Laphroaig and Ardbeg are the ones you are lost likely to run into so maybe you could also just avoid anything ending in g?

Melusina

@Kakapo Hmm, in my experience Ardbeg 10 year is quite a bit peatier than any Laphroaig. I know the Ardbeg people market themselves as "the peatiest and smokiest of the Islay malts."

Certainly the whole house smelled like a peaty bonfire when we were working our way through a bottle. No other single malt has had that effect at Casa Melusina.

insouciantlover

I'm not a big French wine fan either! Also, I lived in the Russian River Valley for years and was like... oh... another pinot noir. *sigh* Not a huge pinot fan! I realize that I like 'em kinda... bigger. Juicier? Jammier?

Also, I was such a pink wine snob for a little while but now I am all. about. the dry rose. Or the sparkling rose! Pretty much anything pink that isn't followed by "zinfandel."

And if you're a newb and see Bonny Doon at like, Trader Joe's, it's a good reliable wine to bring to a dinner party and it doesn't break the bank. Their Vin Gris de Cigare makes me want to dry hump things.

Ophelia

@insouciantlover While I do like pinot noir sometimes, I love love love the old vine cali zinfandels. It's like drinking grape juice from heaven. And totally agree on TJ's. Is there anything they can't do?

squid v. whale

@Ophelia yes yes yes Zins! They are my new favorite. I like Bargetto Lodi Zinfandel, but TJ's Zin hits the spot too.

insouciantlover

@Ophelia I have always loved zinfandels! I thought of them as like, grown up merlots. The gnarled old vine zins are SO YUMMY. And the vines themselves look really cool and kind of wicked.

Ophelia

@insouciantlover I know, right? It's like a wicked witch designed those vines. I can't really understand why all the vineyards don't make evil-looking bottles? Talk about marketing...

Mame16th

@insouciantlover Yes to the dry rose'! It looks so girly but it makes little girls cry. Love it, though I also favor red wines that taste like an old shoe.

DorothyMantooth

@insouciantlover Boony Doon!!! I've been a member of their wine club for years and they are absolutely charming people and their wines are just so FUN! Plus they send you all sorts of info about the wine with their shipments, so that just adds to your Wine Education. Highly recommend!

laurel

@DorothyMantooth: Isn't Bonny Doon also grown, like, biodynamically if not organically, even though they don't market it that way 'cause they don't want to be shunted off into the ohsotwee organic section?

DorothyMantooth

@laurel Yup! Some of their wines are more overtly labeled this way than others, but it's pretty clear that, especially in recent years, they're making a really concerted effort to use environmentally sound practices. So that's another reason I'm really stoked to be a member!

LastMinuteLulu

This. Is. Awesome. And Tempranillo? Yes please!

Ophelia

@LastMinuteLulu If you ever get the chance (I can't find it in stores on the east coast?) try Straight Line Temperanillo from Napa. It is the best wine I have ever tried, hands-down. I think it runs about $25/bottle for recent vintages.

LastMinuteLulu

@Ophelia Thanks! Also, I've heard there's an app for this (duh, there are apps for everything), but I try to take pictures of the labels of bottles I particularly enjoy so I can remember to have it again later.

squid v. whale

Can someone elaborate on unfiltered wine? I mean, why not take out all the weird hard parts during bottling? It's like getting the surprise coffee grounds at the end of a french press, except then you have to decide whether or not to spit out 2 bucks worth of wine.

Charismatic Megafauna

@squid v. whale
My understanding of the filtered vs. unfiltered wine question is mostly that filtration involves isinglass for clarification, which is made from fish and therefore not suitable for vegetarians.

What is called "filtration" can also represent many other processes that are commonly used to "standardize" wine - i.e., to eliminate differences that reflect the time and place it comes from. Unfiltered wine will likely be more distinct and unusual. Filtered wine may give you a clearer, more representative sense of the grape varietal(s) involved.

Finally, the stuff that's left in there - harmless but icky! you should avoid drinking! - is usually the lees (which is basically yeast carcasses, as opposed to bits of grape). The lees can make the wine taste more funky and mushroomy, which some people like.

squid v. whale

@Charismatic Megafauna Ahh ahh so perfect! You are the encyclopedia of wine. I had no idea creatures like ourselves were so interested in booze.

dinos

It's supposed to keep the natural flavors that are removed in the filtering without adding anything new when fining which is using some substance like egg whites or fish parts to help remove the remaining cloudy particles (not filtering is also kind of a hippie winemaker thing to do, so who knows). If you like, you can strain the last few ounces of the bottle or pour the last bit very slowly so the particles stay on the inside of the bottle.

SarahP

@Charismatic Megafauna and dinos Just want to clarify: not all fining/filtration is done with isinglass (fish parts). It can also be done with egg whites, casein (dairy), clay, charcoal, and actual physical filters, like fine mesh screens. Unfortunately, since there are few to no traces of fining agents left in the wine, the only way to know for sure is if you ask the company. (As a vegan who loves wine, I have to research this stuff!)

ALSO the lees (yeasty bits), while sometimes weird tasting, are full of trace vitamins and minerals, so if you swallow some and are grossed out, think how HEALTHY you are.

curryspice

@squid v. whale -The coffee grounds (or it will look like tiny bits of glass if the wine is white) are tartrates that didn't get filtered out. You know cream of tartar? Its the same thing. Harmless, but letting the wine sit for a while so the tartrates sink to the bottom, and then pouring slowly should help reduce the amount of wine you have to sacrifice. Or you can buy a funnel with a mesh strainer.

squid v. whale

@SarahP Ahh! How can you do your research of this when you are just at your local TJ's/bodega? Do you know of any veggie-friendly, nationally-distributed wines?

Charismatic Megafauna

@curryspice @SarahP
I did not bring my A-game to this answer - so, great teamwork!
To further clarify: lees and tartrates are different things and occur for different reasons. Tartrates are far more common, because almost all winemaking causes tartrates to precipitate in the bottle. Even filtered wines may have tartrates occur during aging. Lees result from specific winemaking choices (i.e., not filtering before bottling) and would be left in the bottle intentionally.

SarahP

@squid v. whale Sorry, I didn't see your comment till just now. barnivore.com is a user-submitted veg-friendliness guide, but since it's only companies that people write to for info, it's not comprehensive. My local TJs has a list of veg-friendly wines; ask at yours! And off the top of my head, for nationally-distributed brands, I know Redtail reds are all vegan. And Coturri. Is that nationally distrubted? I see them around where I live a lot. All of Coturri's. Also, a lot of organic wines will actually say "vegan" on the bottle if they are. (Maybe they figure people in the market for organic wine are label-readers... like vegans.)

snakpak

Yay yay yay good article! I had to stop halfway through and get a glass of Riesling to self-test all my new vocab words.

can't get there from here

This is excellent, thank you so much! I have many wine snob friends and get very nervous drinking with them because they get all "blackberries in the summer" and I get all....confused. well, and drunk.

DrFeelGood

@can't get there from here I wouldn't worry too much. Next time someone gets all snobby about the flavors of the wine, you can throw out there that it's been proven that you can only taste 3 flavors at a time, so all this "hints of berries with apple, cardamon, oak and hazel" or whatever, is a load of crap.

squid v. whale

Admittedly, the wine snob in me likes to sniff and taste the wine, pick out certain flavors, and see if they match the flavors listed on the bottle. Party game?

Lucienne

@squid v. whale I like this too, but only if there's more than one wine on offer. Otherwise I'm like, "is it red? does it taste like wine and not seafood? cool."

youresmalltime

@squid v. whale Exists already. It's called Winerd, and it is a staple at my apartment. Plus there is trivia. TRIVIA.

squid v. whale

@youresmalltime Can I invite myself over? I promise to bring the good stuff and not even drink it all!

oh, disaster

As someone who buys her wine based on how pretty the bottle looks, I've got a lot of learning to do.

smidge

@andrea disaster You know what? I find this to be a pretty good system usually--smart winemakers know good wine and good marketing is important, therefore...

boysplz

@andrea disaster Oh man, I'm sort of the opposite of that. I have this sneaking suspicion that the pretty bottles are trying to dazzle me into buying a mediocre wine. I usually end up with the no-nonsense bottles, but in my fantasy there's this delightfully understated yet gorgeous and affordable bottle that also comes with a banging hot dude attached.

oh, disaster

@smidge I like this logic!

Diana

@andrea disaster

This technique works really well for me, actually. That's how I found out about Hey Mambo which is my favorite go-to $10 Bottle O' Red.

oh, disaster

@Diana Me too! I brought a bottle to my friend's BYOB dinner and it was a hit.

Diana

@andrea disaster Do you live in California? Because I will invite you to all my parties from now on.

DorothyMantooth

@andrea disaster Oh, here's an easy tip that's sorta like that! I've almost never been disappointed by a wine that was imported by Wildman. And I've often been really, really pleased with a new discovery. Look for Wildman! (I promise I have absolutely nothing to do with the Wildman people.)

oh, disaster

@Diana I'm in no-fun-Pennsylvania with liquor laws from the Dark Ages, but I appreciate any party invite.

Polina

@andrea disaster Ugh. I'm in PA too. Luckily our Wegs finally is allowed to have beer, but I get sooo sad when I get their magazine and they're going on about all the wines which we're NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE.

curryspice

@DorothyMantooth Agreed! Or Kermit Lynch. Jorge Ordonez is the name to look for on the back label if you want a Spanish wine with a lot of bang for the buck.

oh, disaster

@polina SO JEALOUS OF YOUR WEGMANS. I'm in Pittsburgh and Giant Eagle has a lock on this area. The closest Wegs is hours away in Erie.

Polina

@andrea disaster My bro lives in the Burgh and keeps telling me that Giant Eagle and Wegmans have some sort of weird agreement there to stay away. But if it makes you feel any better, I'm totally jealous of your Whole Foods. I like their prepared food. Oh, and we're getting a Trader Joe's here. But wuh wuh..since it's PA...there will be no fucking wine store. GRRRR.

oh, disaster

@polina Ohhhh, Trader Joe's... even without their wine, it is amazing.

madge

@andrea disaster hey when is the pittsburgh 'pinup happening? there's at least SOME liquor in this state for us to drink, isn't there?

oh, disaster

@madge I'd hope so! I haven't heard anything though.

liznieve

@andrea disaster there was totally an article in (nyt? wine spectator? slate?) about how labels kind of actually do serve as a not horrible predictor of what kind / style of wine it's going to be. New and edgy? Classic and fancy? Also, I had a boyfriend in grad school who was a printmaker and could tell how expensive a bottle of wine is by how its label was printed, on what paper, etc. And he was really accurate.

DrGirlfriend

@curryspice Kermit Lynch, yes!!! His Moscato d'Asti is my favorite sweet wine. We call it "The S1-W" in my house. ;)

boyofdestiny

This is really good! The stumbling block I always come across when it comes to wine is, I guess, the intersection of the subjectivity of taste and the inadequacy of descriptive language. Like, I would never think to describe Chardonnay as buttery (in fact, the thought of wine being buttery is gross to me), but that's probably a legit description!

I do think you're on the right track with the bocce and cigars method of description. I know exactly what that tastes like.

parallel-lines

@boyofdestiny I've only had one chardonnay I've like in my whole life, and it was truly buttery--paired with a spicy half lobster. Good grief it was probably one of the most delicious things I've eaten in my life. But the rest of them...so gross! I taste overly sweet but no Paula Deen sweet delicious butter.

boyofdestiny

@parallel-lines Are you sure you weren't just drinking the drawn butter?

Nicole Cliffe

(There is no shame in that.)

Charismatic Megafauna

@boyofdestiny @parallel-lines
Oooooooooooooooh, you two really need to do a Chardonnay tasting. Chardonnay is so fascinating! I think it's possibly the most schizophrenic grape, because what you get in the bottle depends so much on the winemaker's choices.

Here's how you can do this without dropping too much money: go to a good wine store (if you have one). Ask for two California Chardonnays - one unoaked, one oaked (but be all, "Hey, not crazy barbecue oak, though, something that still expresses the grape.") And ask for a nice white Burgundy that is made with a good level of Malolactic Fermentation.

Oh, that's right, you said the M word! This is the process that converts acidity into buttery-ness. Burgundian Chardonnays are usually produced with a higher ratio of lactic acid (like in milk!) to malic acid (like in green apples!).

You may still end up disliking all Chardonnays, but if there's something about the grape you like, at least you'll learn how to avoid the issues you dislike (oak, butter, etc.)

dinos

@parallel-lines Oh honey, you probably got stuck with some California chardonnay that was aged in oak. That stuff is often gross. You might prefer unoaked chardonnay. Mmmm.

ETA: @Charismatic Megafauna We have to keep running into each other like this!

Ophelia

@dinos Chardonnay in stainless steel instead of oak = awesome. Chardonnay in oak = bleugh.

jacqueline
jacqueline

@Ophelia All this talk of stainless steel and oak is reminding me of the comment thread on "Ask A Clean Person" from this morning.

Saiko

@Charismatic Megafauna The first time I tried Chardonnay (don't remember the brand/region, but it was on heavy sale), I loved it and actually thought it was...dry. Ever after, people have looked at me crazy for saying that, like it's not possible for Chardonnay to be dry or something. There have only been a couple of Chardonnays I've liked as much since then, so I tend to avoid it, but maybe I'll give it another shot (maybe I don't like Burgundy? It's green apples over milk for me!)

curryspice

@Saiko -Chardonnay can absolutely be dry, don't be intimidated! One of the driest, mineraliest wines out there is Chablis, which is Chardonnay from...Chablis, France! (NOT referring to the Jugs of California Chable here, who knows what grape is in some of those jugs.)

QuiteAmiable

Beer.

boyofdestiny

@QuiteAimable Yup.

gimlet

@QuiteAimable Same here.

jstar

@gimlet fourthed.

Brunhilde

@QuiteAimable Yeah, it's so much easier and cheaper to be a beer snob. Also, beer festivals! Try it all! Then fall down.

catwithglasses

@Brunhilde I just had that experience (kind of)! Last week, my husband, friend and I went to a bazillion breweries in Colorado. It was awesome but my snobbery skills went quickly downhill:

First brewery: "I can taste the ginger and peach, and it has a very smooth aftertaste."
Last brewery: "This is a dark beer. I like it."

Brunhilde

@kmc Ha. Yes. When I managed a pub in San Diego my end of year "party" was to take my employees by van to three of the local breweries that we carried product from (Ballast Point, Alesmith, and Pizza Port for anyone wondering), and by the time we got to the last one and ordered Pizza we were all pretty much blackout drunk. Knowing the brewers and them giving us pretty heavy "samples" didn't help our sobriety.

Porn Peddler

This is excellent. I am considering keeping a booze diary on my blog because...I like booze.

Mad Dog

"Order it because it has a pretty label." I do this! Or a funny name! And then wine people do the uncomfortable laugh thing, like "ha ha, you're so droll." But I just give so few fucks! All I want is something delicious and not tooooo expensive that will get me tipsy.

@NatashaMcG "I give so few fucks" = amazing

florabora

As a recently-turned-21-year-old this is great. I want to hurry up and know what I'm talking about but last Friday when I went to buy wine I was like "Shit, do I like Chardonnay? Or Sauvignon Blanc?" And then I just grabbed a random bottle of white Yellow Tail. Which ended up working out okay.
I can't even keep most of the types/names straight. Like I know Merlot is red and White Zin is pink and Chardonnay white, beyond that I don't know the colors. And I don't drink red. Which makes ordering hard if I don't want to ask any questions.

parallel-lines

@florabora If you're 21, Boone's Farm is a lovely place to start.

florabora

@parallel-lines aren't those wine coolers or some shit? no way! I drink real wine.

joie

@florabora try drinking a pinot grigio. it's a nice light white wine that is good for getting comfortable with wine. then move onto a alsace-lorraine white, that can be sweet but also crisp. I really recommend giving red wine a chance at some point. it's an acquired taste, like kalamata olives and dark beer. but it's so worth it! start with a Spanish rioja - affordable and not too heavy. Argentinian malbecs are great too. Whatever you do, don't start with the cheap crap (like that penguin wine, or 3 blind moose, or whatever the cheap stuff is). you can get good wine for cheap, but you can also get really terrible wine for cheap. Basically, you're going to be training your palate to appreciate a good wine, and it'll pay off, trust me! I know it's gotten me laid at least a few times.

florabora

@heyits My problem isn't buying cheap crap, it's that I don't know what to move onto so I just buy the same cheap good stuff again. I think I've liked Pinot Grigio before but don't remember what it tasted like.
I get migraines so red wine is a no-go. Except when I was in Spain and had sangria because I couldn't pass up real sangria! Delicious.

Lily Rowan

@florabora Ask questions! Dooo it.

joie

@florabora New Zealand sauvignon blanc is also delicious. I'm sorry you get migraines from red wine. That is a total bummer.

Brunhilde

@parallel-lines If you're 14 Boone's Farm is a lovely place to start. By 21 you should move up to the 2 Buck Chuck.

LastMinuteLulu

@florabora I remember being 21 and thinking I wanted to be sophisticated and drink wine! Except I didn't know where to start and none of my friends at the time drank wine at all, so I pretty much drank zinfandel for about 2 years before I realized that I didn't even like it all that much. Silly me!

liznieve

@LastMinuteLulu I was a spoiled child with an oenophile father, so I started drinking wine at 14, first with holiday meals, then the myriad small flight with dad so he could teach me the basics. But that still meant that my tastes skewed old-farty/classic/"ANYTHING PINK IS NOT A WINE" until probably after college.

Persimmon

@florabora I'm about to get all didactic -- I can't help it, I love busting out what little wine knowledge I have! Anyway, colors: the most common whites you will encounter are Chardonnay, Sauv. Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris -- same grape, totally different style of wine. I personally hate Grigios & love Gris), Gewurztraminer, Viognier, & Gruner Veltliner. Anything with "blanc" in the name is a white. Anything else you can *usually* assume is a red. In general, your lighter reds (read: less likely to give you a headache) are Pinot Noir & Gamay.

Pink wines are pink because the red grapes have rested not quite as long on their skins. You can make a rose out of any red grape, of which zinfandel is one (and one of my faves. It's also I think the only grape indigenous to America!). There are some seriously lovely roses out there, and any wine person these days who dismisses them as a whole is either snobby or faking.

French v. American: French wines are drier (ESPECIALLY their whites). French reds are usually a blend of grapes; the blend is determined by the varietals that grow in the region. Examples: a Burgundy is generally a Pinot Noir (these could still be headache-y wines because of the way they're made), and a Bordeaux is almost always a blend of 5 different grapes that I will not name here because I am starting to become ashamed of my wordiness.

Hope this has been helpful to you and not just fun for me!

Polina

My first wine love was (and still is) port. I am now obsessed with tree free char by yellow tail. I will drink any champagne. Seriously..any. I have always hated dry reds, but after a few dinners made by my man which involved soaking beef in it for hours...I may have a new thing to be in love with.

Porn Peddler

@polina Port is one of the few wines absolutely unpalatable to me. Maybe if I made chocolate cake full of port ganache or something but oh lawd. I like me a merlot, personally.

Polina

@Third Wave Housewife It definitely seems to be a love or hate situation. I just love the burn. One of my friends says that port just tastes like raisins to her.

Mame16th

@polina Port is very raisiny, but just too sweet to me. On the other hand, I love sherry, madeira, marsala... all those guys.

Bebe

This is excellent! I do have a question - why do some Sauvignon Blancs taste like flowery perfume and make me want to gag (I'm looking at you, Kim Crawford), but others are delightful and delicious? How do I know if it is going to taste like I am drinking flowers?

dinos

@Bebe Go to a place where the staff has actually tried the wines they're selling, if you can. Otherwise, get French Sauvignon Blancs, as they (mostly) are super crisp and clean.

Bebe

@dinos I usually tell people that I hate Kim Crawford because it tastes like flowers, and they will recommend one and that usually works out OK. But thanks for the tip about sticking with the French wines - I will try that!

Charismatic Megafauna

@Bebe
Also, FYI, you will often find French Sauvignon Blancs identified as Sancerre (which is a region in the Loire Valley where SB is the main grape.)

Ophelia

@Charismatic Megafauna And Sancerre is WONDERFUL. Also, apparently we should get together and drink wine.

Bebe

@Charismatic Megafauna OMG, it all makes sense now - I like Sancerre but am iffy on SB - now I know why! I feel so happy - and yet, so very stupid - all at once. The more you know!

Charismatic Megafauna

@Bebe
THIS MADE MY DAY! Problem solved!

@Ophelia
We are basically dating . . . right now.

PistolPackinMama

@Bebe Try an Austrian Grunerveltleiner some time. They often have the same crisp, mineraly/fruity thing of an SB, and don't stray into flowers territory. I drank a lot of this stuff this summer, after a trip to Vienna in the Spring, and have been really enjoying myself. I like Sauvignon Blancs, but hate the floral kind, too.

Ophelia

@Charismatic Megafauna does this laptop make my ass look big, honey? ...Too soon?

kpoparazzi

Regarding the last bit of information: everything I learned about pairing, I learned from the Bond movie "From Russia With Love" where the bad guy, Grant, orders a red wine with his fish entree and that is, like, a clue to Bond that this is no gentleman he's dealing with. So: white wine with fish if your childhood years were spent watching 007 marathons on TV whenever possible.

dandelion

@kpoparazzi this is sorta true! i have read (and practiced) that you really can drink whatever you want with whatever food you want, but for *some* reason, seafood will bring out extra acidity with red wine that is not too desireable.

kpoparazzi

@dandelion Good to know! Thank you, now I'll have something other than Ian Flemming's work to back me up.

curryspice

@kpoparazzi -Unless you are having Salmon, then a Pinot Noir (especially one from Oregon) is great!

parallel-lines

How do you drink red wine and not get a splitting headache for two days?

Until then: ANDRE (do not hate)

Mame16th

@parallel-lines Drink a LOT of water. Like at least 1 glass of water per glass of wine. It might not totally eliminate the headache, but it helps. Also, Andre? No, dear. Try cavas and/or prosecco, They're yummy too.

kayjay

@parallel-lines I can't. It's a migraine trigger for me. Used to drink it like it was water. Now I can't even look at it without breaking out my meds.

Porn Peddler

@parallel-lines Possibly you can't? Try looking for sulfite-free wines but mostly uh, you are prob not gonna be buddies with red wine.

florabora

@Mame16th Cava! Freixenet!

Bebe

@parallel-lines I get the headache, PLUS I have one glass and pretty much fall asleep standing up. Also, my friend and I call red wine "The Grim Weeper," because in addition to making us sleepy and headachey, it also makes us cry. So, yeah, I usually stick to whites.

Mame16th

@florabora Another thing that's wonderful but will absolutely hit you between the eyes with a brick is sparkling shiraz.

Saiko

@Mame16th CAVA. YES. Apparently made using the same process as champagne? So it's not just "sparkling wine"? (The question marks come out, since I, like others, have been bullied out of deigning to think I know what I'm talking about re wine). I had a pink cava sangria in Barcelona, I think about it often

Mame16th

@Saiko I have no idea how they make it, but I think you might be right. I (literally) have my brother remember things like for me, since he used to have a wine shop. It frees up my brain for other things.

curryspice

@Saiko -You know, I think you know more than you think about wine, and I am sorry people have made you feel bullied, it is just a drink at the end of the day. Cava, by law, IS made the same way Champagne is, it tastes different because the grapes and the climate where the grapes are grown are different.

Persimmon

@parallel-lines I may very well be talking out of my ass here, but maybe a less tannic red would be better? I get the headache plus a stuffy nose with more tannic reds, but I've had better luck with the ones that haven't rested as long on their skins (the skins are where the tannins and the color come from, which is why most people don't have this issue with whites). Usually this means buying American (I've had good luck with Russian River and Willamette Pinot Noirs); the more fruity, the less tannin. A Beaujolais -- the lightest French red -- could also work.

leonstj

Am I the only person who has a hard time using too many senses at once? Like, I have a hard time really tasting things with my eyes open. So generally, I close my eyes a lot when I want to really enjoy food, or now that I'm recently turning to wine, that too.

I'm pretty sure it makes me look like a moron or a snob, but my tongue-bits and nose-stuff just likes it better when my see-holes are blinked.

Brunhilde

@leon.saintjean I do the same thing. If I'm really trying to taste something, eyes closed, and it's even better if the noise level is low.

Ophelia

@leon.saintjean Agree, and I realized I don't really care if I look like a moron (I care slightly more if I look like a snob, but whatever.)

Saiko

@leon.saintjean Funny, I have a harder time than I'm comfortable with telling Sprite and Coke apart with my eyes closed. But I have smoker's/hot-sauce-all-the-time palate

Tyrantanic

Anything under $6 at Trader Joe's

gimlet

@Tyrantanic yuuuup.

PistolPackinMama

@Tyrantanic especially their vino verdhe.

ecosalon@twitter

"Much like size, region matters." Love it! Thanks for this down to earth guide, we cheapo winos dig it.

Miss Zarves

I know almost nothing about choosing "good" wines, so I make up my own games. At restaurants, I'll usually pick a wine based on how well its description matches my emotions. "Slightly sweet with a bright acidity" was the winner a few nights ago.

lobsterhug

Co-sign purchasing based on label! This is my trusty and scientific method for finding new wines. I discovered a most delicious Malbec because of the charming curly little llama on the label.

stalkingcat

My biggest problem with picking out wine is, I like sweet wines. I *love* sweet wines, and I get the "you just haven't drunk enough to appreciate the subtlety/taste/perfection that is dry wine." And since I've been trying to drink dry wine for 20 years now? and still don't like it, I think I'm going to have to stick with sweet. So what are the good sweet wines? (Usually I just give up and stick with honey whiskey. Mmmmm, yummmm.)

kayjay

@stalkingcat Brotherhood Winery Riesling is a good sweet wine, but it's very sweet, which is good, because you like sweet wines. It's also reasonably inexpensive.

kayjay

@kayjay Oops. Is "reasonably inexpensive" even a thing? I think I could've just said "inexpensive".

ormaisonogrande

@stalkingcat I don't know how expensive they are in the US but wines that have the word "Moscato" in the name, I think it's "Muscat" for French wines, are usually sweet and yum. I am not usually a fan of sweet wines but I generally like most Moscatos.

stalkingcat

@stalkingcat Thank you! Thank you!I'm writing those down. In college I found a winery called Nissley in the Lancaster, PA, area. The wines were delicious (and about $10/bottle). They also labeled all their wines "Sweet", "Semi-Sweet", "Semi-Dry", and "Dry". I wish everybody would do that.

yeah-elle

@stalkingcat i'm the same way so i pretty much stick to moscato. it's a sweet white desert wine. sometimes it's a little bit sparkling. i like sara bee, which you can get for around $5 at trader joe's. it has some of that honey taste that you probably like if you like honey whiskey!

Ophelia

@stalkingcat I'm not a huge sweet wine fan, but there's a dessert wine called Sauternes that is heavenly.

Charismatic Megafauna

@stalkingcat
How sweet do you like them? Because there are sweet wines and then there are dessert wines.
Two tips:
1. The Germans make good sweeter wines. German wine is classified by the ripeness of the grape, with the more ripe grapes being (generally but not always) sweeter. Look, a chart!
2. Dessert wines are usually very expensive, and also very sweet obvs, and also they generally don't go too well with food. If this is the only category of wine you like, I'd say stick with cocktails with dinner. (I'm on a margarita kick right now.) This is not to discourage dessert wine enjoyment! Dessert wine is great! Look into wines called Vins Doux Naturels (VDN), which are fortified wines from the south of France. One o fhtem is Maury (made from Grenache). It is quite uncommon and can be a good value. It's definitely sweet but not as super-sticky as some other dessert wines.

thejcar

@Ophelia OH MY GOD I'M SO IN LOVE WITH SAUTERNES. When I have a particularly bad week I pick up a split at my local wine shop under guise of a "dinner party." THE DINNER PARTY IS A LIE BUT THE TASTY TIMES ARE REAL. Um, also, sorry for literally screaming about sauternes. But it is happy delicious nectar of the gods, I swear.

thejcar

@thejcar also to clarify I don't drink the whole half bottle at a time, I'm not an utter philistine. Just... a liar where my local wine shop is concerned?

Persimmon

@stalkingcat Dessert wines will be the sweetest, but you might not want to drink them with an entree. Sweeter "regular" wines include Gewurztraminer (oh, my lovely rose-and-lychee Gewurz, how I dote upon thee!) & Riesling. If you want something subtler, a Pinot Gris (especially from Alsace, a region on the French/German border) has a mellow, round, sort of wintry-sweet-but-not-too-much taste to it. I think of it kind of as a slightly sweeter wine for people who lean more towards dry ones.

Lily Rowan

Non-pro tip: If you find one less-usual kind of wine that you like, and remember what it's called, you seem fancy without knowing a lot. I love a Gruner Veltliner! (See how fancy I seem already? I don't know anything about wine!!)

Mame16th

@Lily Rowan And if you can pronounce Gewurtztraminer correctly, the waiter will be in awe.

Porn Peddler

@Mame16th After talking to a vintner for like fifteen minutes about that stuff, I finally can, and have had a bottle of the stuff in my fridge for weeks. Weeks because I have not made spicy food to drink it with yet :(

Ophelia

@Mame16th So....how DO you pronounce it? I'm imagining Ge-VURTZ-tra-MY-ner.

Mame16th

@Ophelia ...tra-MEE-ner, but yeah.

PistolPackinMama

@Lily Rowan Me too! Me too! I know not very much about wine, but had a really fun summer tracking down all the different kinds and trying them! Mmmm!

Lily Rowan

@Mame16th I have some weird combination of classical singing training and German ancestry that makes me able to pronounce things in German, more or less, even though I totally don't speak the language....

PistolPackinMama

@Ophelia Tho, if you are sliding towards tipsy, everyone will think any pronounciation issues you are having are drunk related and not german language related. So, don't worry about it, I say.

merg

but how do you drink wine without getting wine mouth??

Ophelia

@merg also drink a glass of seltzer :) but not too much, or you won't get as drunk.

Diana

When I was in college I tried to start a blog with some of my more alcoholic friends to review wine for normal people. Like, "Is this good? Can I get drunk fast?" versus "It tastes of an essence of marshmellow with just a hint of asphalt!" It kind of..deteriorated. There's nudity (not mine). If you're interested:

Spit or Swallow.

Diana

@Diana Note: I have completely changed my mind about white wine, I didn't know any better, apologies!

Diana

@Diana Oh and I forgot about this clip of Dylan Moran talking about wine! Which is so perfect for right now!

Dylan Moran is my other spirit animal. (The first one is Leslie Knope.)

Lucienne

@Diana Oh my God, I think we are best friends. Let's go pot-holing. In Croatia.

And may I also recommend Dylan Moran on alcohol generally?

Lucienne

@Lucienne Ugh, the link got lost when I edited. Here is the clip I wanted!

rayray

@Lucienne Co-sign on Dylan Moran on wine and Life in General.

redheaded&crazy

all this talk of wine makes me long for the days of living in montreal.

10:55! Last call for convenience store wine! Good times man. Good times.

phlox

@redheadedandcrazy Oh Montreal. With a dep in the lobby, you don't even need a coat to buy wine! I think I probably drank there more than anywhere else I've lived and I only lived there for two years.

hyphenanne

@redheadedandcrazy goddammit I hope Manitoba gets its liquor laws together soon so I too can live that dreamlife

redheaded&crazy

@hyphenanne moving back to Ontario where the liquor stores close at a totally unreasonable hour like 9:00 was ... trying.

I've grown used to it, but not without a heavy heart.

likethestore

@redheadedandcrazy Heh. Friday night at the LCBO is always fun. Wine Racks are open til 10 though!

redheaded&crazy

@likethestore :O

this is the best thing I learned today!

likethestore

@redheadedandcrazy Unfortunately they only carry Ontario wine which usually leaves something to be desired.

Cat named Virtute

@redheadedandcrazy Yes! Bars open til 3! I love it here. THIS is civilization.

karion

I have the rule of short ribs, which states that when I am in a fine restaurant and everything looks amazing and the menu completely intimidates me, I order the braised short ribs, for they are nearly always the best (and the chef's favorite) thing on the menu.

Applying that rule to wine, when in doubt, order (1) Oregon (Willamette) Pinot Noir; (2)Oregon (Willamette) Pinot Gris - seriously the best white on the planet - it is NOTHING like Pinot Grigio - completely different style and much, much better and sippier; (3) Any Washington state Meritage (blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc).

kayjay

I've been looked down on by many wine snobs over my love of wine cocktails. Fuck them. Wine cocktails are great, and they can transform a meh wine into something awesome.

Bebe

@kayjay I have very good friends, married to each other, who are in a mixed marriage - he is a wine snob, and she loves a good spritzer. She just lets him choose the wine she uses for her spritzers, so it doesn't physically hurt him when she adds club soda.

Pizzahut

Kalimotxo forever!

angelinha

@Pizzahut SIIIIIII

KatPruska

I think I have weird taste buds - no matter what kind of wine it is I seem to be extra sensitive to any sharpness or tangy-ness and most wine tastes exactly the same to me. Impossible to get Black Books out of my head now.

Bernard: It's all waffle! Nobody is prepared to admit that wine doesn't actually have a taste!

Manny: You can't taste anything! You smoke eight bajillion cigarettes a day!...What are you eating?

Bernard: It's some sort of delicious biscuit!

Manny: It's a coaster.

Bernard: Is it? Are there any more?

Diana

@KatPruska Oh my god I just posted Dylan Moran a few comments above, let's you and I and Dylan Moran be friends!

KatPruska

@Diana And Bill Bailey! I just saw him live last night!!

It makes me feel dirty inside that Dylan Moran is my potential celebrity free pass. He's so skeevy...but Irish...mmmmm...Dara O'Briain...

ETA - AND LESLIE KNOPE??? Can we be best friends??!!

Diana

@KatPruska

I joined Twitter solely to follow the accounts of Bill Bailey and Dolly Parton.

swirrlygrrl

While I am generally "meh" on French wines, there is an exception: Sancerre. Dancerre! I tried it because I wanted to be like Hemmingway (well, without all the bull fighting), and found out it is the most dreamy delicious perfect white wine I can imagine. It is also a bit horrificly priced, even in France, but there are also a good number of minerally non-Sancerre sauvignon blancs out there that are delicious. Mmmmm....Sancerre.

LastMinuteLulu

@swirrlygrrl Sancerre and oysters are all I ever need.

curryspice

@swirrlygrrl -Have you had any S.B.s from Touraine? They are great, but tend to be easier on the wallet than Sancerres or Pouilly Fumes.

Persimmon

@swirrlygrrl I've had some Sancerre-esque New Zealand S.B.'s, too. Quite yummy & w/ a lot more options to go cheaper.

cherrispryte

What if you've just decided (completely arbitrarily) that you like Shirazs and Malbecs, preferably from places that aren't the US or Europe? This has worked well for me, because if I'm somewhere fancy ordering wine by the glass, there's usually just one Malbec or Shiraz to choose, and if I'm buying wine, I'll be like "fuck it, buying South African wine cause why not" and no one knows I'm kind of making things up. Maybe I'd be much happier drinking Merlots from California or whatever, but I like what I've got at the moment, so pah.

Lucienne

@cherrispryte This is my method too, but partly because I feel like Shirazs and Malbecs are more reliable?

Except one time I got a Malbec that tasted like scallops.

gimlet

@Lucienne @cherrispryte real talk: I buy Shirazs/Syrahs because they usually have the highest alcohol content. At least that's what I heard.

cherrispryte

@gimlet Ooooh. Good to know!

STACKED Wines

Best wine article I've read in a long time! Wine is delicious, shouldn't be pretentious.

Ophelia

@dinos Chardonnay in stainless steel instead of oak = awesome. Chardonnay in oak = bleugh.

Mame16th

"They say you should never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. Of course, that presupposes there IS a wine I wouldn't drink" - Lev Grossman, "The Magicians"

Ophelia

@Mame16th When that sequel comes out, we need to have a Lev Grossman open thread.

Mame16th

@Ophelia Oh, it's out, and it's even better than the first one!

Ophelia

@Mame16th How did I miss this? For some reason I thought it wasn't until 2012? To the bookstore!!

cat of the canals

I like wine, but I've only ever had one that made me, like, go into an "A Whole New World" clip in my head and heart. It was in some fancy French place in New Haven, I couldn't understand the name the waiter was saying and was too embarrassed to ask him again. I only know that it was a Bordeaux, and ever since I try just buying/ordering Bordeaux in hopes of finding it. Sad.

Charismatic Megafauna

@cat of the canals
I want you to be happy, and that probably means you have to move on from Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a treacherous land full of misleading language, empty bank accounts and broken dreams. If you're not even sure if it was Left Bank, Right Bank or in-between, your chances of re-finding it serendipitously are infinitesimal.

Unless . . . are you really loving Bordeaux and learning about the region? Maybe you're halfway to being a sommelier and don't even realize it! Is there a silver lining in this tale of missed connections? I hope so!

cat of the canals

@Charismatic Megafauna Oh man, this is like talking to a wine therapist (for free!). You're doing god's work here!

Caitlin Podiak

The funnest way to learn a lot about wine is to go wine tasting. Skip Napa and go up to Anderson Valley, where there are almost zero dud wineries, it's beautiful, cheaper, less crowded, less pretentious, and less intimidating if you're a novice. Buy cases of whatever you like best and ship them home if necessary. Consider it an investment in your drinking for the next year - you'll end up paying less and drinking better wine in the long run.

Diana

@Caitlin Podiak

The idea that I would go to Anderson Valley and drink wine when the brewery is right over yonder? That wine is taking up space that could be perfectly used by oatmeal stout.

Polina

@Caitlin Podiak The only place I've ever done tasting was in the Finger Lakes since I'm east coast. I don't know if it's a cool people place or not, but I learned a lot and had fun.

scully

@Caitlin Podiak YEAAAA! I got married in Boonville and am an AV enthusiast too. And you should save room for both beer AND wine when there. And delicious food. Shout-out in general to less known wine areas where they will be really happy you showed up, give you lots to taste (for FREE), and might even take you out into the vines to give you a quick lesson in grape-growing. See: Lodi, Amadaor County and Calaveras County for others.

maebyfunke

Over the last year or so, I've started to really appreciate wine, preferably white. But I only drink kosher wine, which rules out sooo much! I can't just go into a bar and order wine, can't have mixed drinks made with champagne, etc etc., but at least I'm in NYC so I can get it pretty easily. And for times when I can't there is always vodka.

hairdresser on fire

Oooohhh this is so nice! Thank you! I am really good at understanding craft beer, but I know next to nothing about wine (other than I can drink an entire bottle of Barefoot moscato at once).

My brief Ask A Wine Person query: is there a red wine out there for ladies who enjoy sweet whites like moscatos and rieslings? It might just be that I haaaaate drinking room-temp fluids, as reds generally are, but I keep trying!

likethestore

@hairdresser on fire I'm the same way, red wine grosses me out because it's warm. Ugh. The only way I like it is sangria.

Charismatic Megafauna

@hairdresser on fire
Try drinking Beaujolais slightly chilled. It's not too dry or complex, and it goes with virtually all food. FYI, Beaujolais is a place, the grape is actually called Gamay, and you may see Gamay from other places - also yummy, and would be excellent cool.

Allison Davis

@hairdresser on fire Dudes! Good news! If you don't like lukewarm liquids, then you can throw that sucker in the fridge. Try it. I've absolutely chilled bottles of Zinfandel and Sangiovese, which tend to be a little lighter, and I find it refreshing (not ice cold, necessarily, just not room temp). There are also some carbonated reds, (not just for Champagne anymore!) Shiraz principally, that are usually served chilled. It's fun, like a pants off dance off in your mouth.

Also, have you tried a tawny port? It's sweet in a different way, but it's considered a dessert wine, which it sounds like you favor.

ormaisonogrande

@hairdresser on fire People might make fun of you because it's considered kind of low-brow but Lambrusco is red and fairly sweet. Bonus -- because it is considered lowbrow it is usually one of the cheapest wines around.

(putting on my snob face) Red wine really should not be room temperature unless you keep your house at under 65 degrees. Reds are supposed to be just a tiny bit colder than room temp. I love red wine but it starts to taste yuck when it gets too warm. If you're not usually down with red wine you might actually like it better served slightly colder because it tends to mute the flavor a little bit.

Lucienne

@Allison Davis Yeah, and also my understanding is that red wines used to be served from an actual wine cellar, so they were wine cellar room temperature and therefore rather cooler than regular room temp. My parents always chill their red wine in the fridge.

curryspice

@hairdresser on fire -Try Brachetto, a sweeter, sparkling red from Italy, and ditto what everyone else said, most people drink their reds way too warm, which just brings the alcohol to the forefront, same reason you aren't supposed to hold your wine glass by the bowl, your hand will heat the wine. A good rule of thumb is to just throw the red wine in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before you open it.

hairdresser on fire

@Allison Davis et. al. Thanks so much guys! I'm furiously jotting these down on a piece of purse-stashable paper so I can peek at it the next time I'm at a restaurant. And yeah, I was thinking about wine cellars right after I clicked, that makes a lot of sense!

Hambulance

@Lucienne @Charismatic Megafauna

The best chilling rule I recently learned is The 15 Minute Rule. A red? Stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes prior to opening. White? Keep it in there, but take it OUT 15 minutes prior to opening.

Hello, perfect.

Charismatic Megafauna

@Hambulance
What a wonderful tip!

DrFeelGood

@hairdresser on fire I second the Beaujolais suggestion. I really only drink red wine with heavy food, but Beaujolais is light and nice for sipping. Both Louis Jadot and Georges Duboeuf make nice inexpensive Beaujolais. I'd also suggest asking for a blended Red at your liquor store. I don't know if that is gauche, but whatevs. I enjoy a lot of the blended reds since they can take away some of the bite that I don't really want if I'm just drinking it (w/out food). A great blend is RED (horrible name, makes it harder to find) but it's a blended red that is smooth and lovely for dinners at home.

hairdresser on fire

@DrFeelGood Beaujolais! I actually forgot that I can deal with that, and probably that + fridge = tolerable to enjoyable. And I think table wine/blended wine is enjoying some sort of a comeback? At any rate, a bartender friend of mine works at an incredibly snotty bar that's doing the keg wine thing, and the options are "red" or "white," sooo maybe I should ride that wave?

Ahhh my brain feels so tiny! I can talk for days about beer stuff, but my wine palate is still at "19-year-old drinking Franzia." I love you for setting me straight, Hairpin buddies.

likethestore

I don't like French wine either - I like American wine. Maybe that's the fast food of wine, I don't know, but it works for me.

rayray

@likethestore I'm not crazy on French wine either, and I lived in France and believe me, they are so in love with their own wine over there you have to shell out a load more to buy non-French wine. BUT the French stuff is SO cheap I ended up drinking that too (a lady at the market who pumps red wine out of a van into any receptacle you like for about a euro a liter? Yes please). My fave red is Spanish Rioja but I found some Cahors wine which had the similar old leather shoe kinda quality, and there was a lovely sparkling red from the north which I can't remember the name of but it was served chilled and was so nice in summer. I also used to just go to the cheapest supermarket and pick one of the millions of bottles under 2 euros - me and my friend tried to work our way through all of them, and we had a wall of shame where we stuck the labels of the worst ones!

likethestore

@rayray OK, I need to move to France and do all those things.

rayray

ALSO if anyone ever gets the chance to go to Bordeaux you can to go like the Sommelier college and they have a bar where they sell award-winning wines for as little 2 euro a glass and the servers are all sommeliers in training so they LOVE recommending stuff to you. (I'm not coming across as someone who dislikes French wine very well am I?)

Tragically Ludicrous

@rayray oh man that really sounds worth it.

Diana

Oh Oh Oh! One last thing because I'm way too enthusiastic about this topic apparently, but you should all go rent John Cleese's "Wine for the Confused". My dad - who drinks no alcohol of any kind - thought it was marvelously helpful and recommended it to me. It's hilarious and very funny and starts from the same premise ("Drink what you like!").

Leslie Popplewell

@Diana John Cleese-- I liked him before that and just wanted to marry him after seeing it!

curryspice

Ok, trying to remain calm, I used to teach wine classes, so I apologize in advance if I leave comments all OVER this thread, I tend to get a bit worked up when I can talk about wine. Thank you so much for this Allison, wine does NOT have to be intimidating, and a little knowledge goes a long way. One quick note about "dry" wines. This generally just means "not sweet". The term off-dry means "slightly sweet". When talking about the "now you taste it, now you don't" thing, the word usually used is the "finish" Basically a wine with a long aftertaste=a wine with a long finish. As a general rule, a low quality wine will have a shorter finish.

GoCeilings

@curryspice Thank you, this was irking me too. Dry just means 'not sweet'!

Allison Davis

@curryspice ah, duly noted. Thanks!

Infinitina

Canadian Ladies, if you're not yet familiar with Billy Munnelly and the Best Bottles wine guides, go make this man your new friend right now! Quite like the author of this fine article, his "there's no wrong way to experience/discuss wine" approach is super accessible and straight-forward, and makes trying to talk about wine easy and enjoyable.
I like my men how I like my wine: lively, sharp, and light-hearted. Marry me, beaujolais!

descie

I worked at a wine store for a while and learned A LOT in a very short amount of time (mostly because I was only allowed to read Wine Spectator and the Oxford Companion to Wine during slow hours, and not my Kindle). This article is pretty solid, but here's some stuff that I found useful/learned:

-Dry is the opposite of sweet.
-Minerality is a quality that is often found with dry whites, and when people talk about that they mean it's fairly crisp--pretty sure that's what you meant when you were describing dryness?
-The sharpness you didn't like with French wines can be found with many other "spicy" reds--it's that heat you often find with a Syrah or a Zinfandel, that gives it a little bit of a zing in the back of your tongue.
-Big, bold reds--like Burgundies and other really high-priced reds--are most likely dry and high in tannins. That's that acid-ey, dry, oaky finish to a wine that is kind of an acquired taste, like coffee. There's probably a real description with science and shit but that's how I remembered it.
-Oaked vs. unoaked? Oak is important in winemaking and oak barrels give a lasting impression to wine that I don't really know enough to get into but have you ever had unoaked Chardonnay? Oaked Chardonnay is buttery and shitty and awful, but unoaked is crisp and lemony and beautiful. Try Mer Soleil Silver.
-South American wines are HOT SHIT, is what I've learned. They're also pretty awesome!
-Girly wines get a bad rap. Cupcake's Red Velvet is delicious and tastes like a cherry compote.

And last but not least, and also most importantly: It is the easiest thing ever to describe wine. The first day at work I had NO IDEA about wine in the slightest, but I learned the process (smelling the bouquet, then tasting it, and what to look for), then just described what came to me. It can be an extremely un-snobby process. One wine rep got pissed when I described his $40 Sauvignon Blanc smelled like Lemon Pledge but I didn't mean it in a bad way--it's just a smell that I knew and liked. And on another, when we accidentally got a bad bottle of wine in a tasting I told my boss that it smelled like a used band-aid or the inside of a nurse's office and he totally agreed with me. It doesn't have to be all "blackcurrant" and "shiitake mushrooms." Just go with whatever you think it tastes like, and take the time to savor it before you chug the whole bottle, you lush.

Mame16th

@descie I find a lot of the big, tannin-y reds I like have a certain band-aid note. I can totally see that that's not for everyone, but if I say it, I don't mean it in a bad way either.

Persimmon

@descie As long as you say it with a straight face, you can say the most outlandish things about wine and people will not only assume you know what they're talking about, they'll agree with you.

A couple of notes on tannic wines: I've found they're usually better food wines than sipping wines, but I sort of categorize any red that's really dry or leathery or barnyard-y as a food wine. Just a personal preference. It's helpful to know that some people are sensitive/allergic to the tannins themselves (I fall in that group). The reaction isn't a big deal for me -- just a stuffy nose after 1-2 glasses -- but depending on the company and the occasion it does sometimes influence my choice of what to drink.

DrFeelGood

@descie

Larry David "Mmm it's oakey."
Sammie: "What does oakey mean?"
Larry: "...it means it tastes like a tree".

Nutellaface

Does anyone else play the "most expensive wine on the menu" game when they go to nicer restaurants? Anyone? I think the priciest bottle I ever saw on a wine list was $15000. I think that one won all the games.

Ginger Slap

" Does it go better with sitting in a dark room, listening to Cat Power and thinking about your ex"... So many wines go with this cliched scenario. Sigh.

nyikint

Good lord, I'm going through Hairpin posts wondering why there are so few comments on some of the other stories, and OF COURSE, the wine post gets completely inundated.

You alcoholics.

sub_english

In the winter, I like a big, slutty red that tastes like it would get drunk at a party and make out with a stranger.

Two-Headed Girl

See, my wine "knowledge" basically amounts to "Barefoot Moscato with everything all the time", which can be problematic when you want to look smart, and also that stuff is like juice so it's very easy to forget how much you've had, not that I've had firsthand experience or anything.

I do beer instead, because fancy beer is still reasonably cheap and somehow you still feel sort of classy?

melis

I couldn't help but notice that Vicodin wasn't on this list?

hollyb
hollyb

exactly! this is why I read grapefriend too! it's actual fun stuff about wine, not snob stuff http://grapefriend.com

supergirlieque

Sooo late to the party on this but.. ice wine? Anyone??
I had a sip of some at a restaurant once when I was younger/more ignorant and it's been haunting me, but I've heard they can be very hit or miss. Too pricey to get something accidentally terrible but oooohhh thinking about ice wine makes me tingle. I mean, yeah...

DrFeelGood

@supergirlieque I think they're made mostly (exclusively?) in Canada? We had them in Quebec, it is suuuper sweet, a desert wine really, and not that great IMO.

curryspice

@supergirlieque -The price will be your clue. Traditional ice-wine is a big process. Some grapes are left behind on the vine after the regular harvest. Basically the very first night the temps fall below freezing, the grapes are picked, and pressed, often right there in the vineyard, before they can thaw, so the little bit of juice they can get from each grape is super concentrated. The inexpensive workaround is just to pick grapes and throw them in a freezer, then press them. Unfortunately the truly great ones are always going to cost more, but I have had cheaper ones that weren't bad at all. The good news is that one tiny bottle goes a long way, since you only need a little bit per serving.

Julianna L Powell@facebook

@supergirlieque
I scrolled down this entire thread just to make a comment like yours! I don't like the taste of most wines (grew up drinking pop), but ice wine is wonderfully sweet and makes me feel adult when we're out and everyone else is ordering Chateau WhatIsThisSwill. I have had a German ice wine, but the Canadian ones I've tried taste better so far. It's that or Shirley Temples for me, I'm afraid!

nice_belt

@LaFabuliste start with lagavulin.
just kidding, apparently (the) dalwhinnie is, like, a beginner's scotch in Scotland. It's great stuff. Also most scotch's are called, "the ____," which i think only scotch can pull off.

Also when you drink scotch, ask for a (rocks) glass of water to go with it. A good bartender will nod knowingly. What you do is take one of those little stirrers and fill it with a little water which you then drop into your scotch. It "opens" it up. Swear to hashem, this is not a myth.

LAST TIP: drinking scotch is a 3 part/breath process. first time i was shown this procedure changed my life, not kidding. 1. glass to nose, inhale through *mouth*. exhale while bringing glass to lips; 2. inhale through nose while scotch hits the tongue. let it rest while you exhale; 3. inhale through nose and toss the scotch to back of your throat and swallow it or whatever. then you go on breathing like otherwise, tip your bartender, smile, etc

DrFeelGood

Best wine-shopping experience. Being at a liquor store and hearing a guy trying to impress a girl "Ok, so 1st rule about wine is the more expensive it is, the better it is. Second, go for an AWESOME label, then look at the price - $15.00 - no, too cheap". Wow I wonder why he's not writing for Wine Spectator?

Katie Boyer@twitter

Oh, seriously? I stay up until 5am posting, like, a gajillion insightful comments on this thread, on my tiny little cell phone screen that is almost impossible to type on, and this morning I come back and they are ALL missing? Wtf.
Well then, to summarize:
-Beer is more expensive than wine, the way my husband and I drink it ($30 for a fancy beer night vs. $18 for a fancy wine).
-Port is awesome, and I use probably-not-hilarious weather-based puns to try to trick my husband into letting me get a bottle.
-I don't use fancy wine-describing words, but they're good to know, so you can use them as keywords when trying out new wines. (ie, "Ooh, I'm a big fan of leather, tar, and graphite...let's get this one!")

*goes to pout in the corner*

sandwiches

@Katie Boyer@twitter My comment disappeared as well! Although it was less insightful and more having to do with being really infatuated with Whole Foods' Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon. Less than two dollars with my bf's discount and it's so drinkable and delicious. Mm frugality. Plus, then there's more money for fancy beer!

Slapfight

If you've never tried Lambrusco, do so. Preferably the red. It's served chilled and it's slightly sparkling! A great summer-to-fall wine. It's on the sweeter side but I wouldn't call it sweet. Drinkable, so drink it.

Lfrizz

As someone mentioned above(way above)how about a quick tour guide to the world of microbrews/craft beer? I love beer and both my mother and father happen to be beer snobs, if you can be that, so help educate me so I can understand WTF they are talking about. Or so I know what the hell I'm drinking.

Official Barea Blog@twitter

I'll just leave this here. Leave it to me to have to bring some youthful joy to this discussion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiCwDBJB5Y0

Leslie Popplewell

Does anyone else think that reds go bad faster in the summertime? I have started drinking them only in the winter. The whites I leave in the fridge, and maybe they're a little too cold, but the reds stay in the cupboard, and just a day or two after I open them suddenly they're not fit to drink.

killer_queen

@Leslie Popplewell Completely true-- heat is the enemy of any bottle of wine, and the degradation is faster if it's open. Once you've opened a bottle, put the unfinished portion in the fridge, regardless of color; you can take it out and let it come to a drinkable temperature when you're ready to finish it. Also, try to finish a bottle within a couple days of opening it. Even if you're a "glass of wine after the workday" person, and usually go through a bottle a week (who ARE you?), wine just gets sort of nasty after too long.

Jeff Siegel@twitter

This is genius. Sheer brilliant genius. I have been arguing this for years, and have been ignored, made fun of, and told I was missing the point. Wine should be fun. Why, oh why, does the wine industry make it otherwise?

William Allen@facebook

Super fun/funny post - but you really don't know much about wine save drinking it, which is of course the main point, but you also go in reverse on education on occasion.
e.g. 'Chardonnay is sort of buttery and thicker"
well yes, retail stuff, but thats wine making influence and big brands. A smaller producer or French chablis can be more as crisp and steely as any white.

But overall a fun post, good for the wine newbie seeking enlightenment. A zillion great questions here to answer and needing guidance :)

Charmion

If anybody is still reading comments: about "dry". Dry is the opposite of sweet, in the wine biz. Dry flavor can linger in your taste for a long time.

And about wine being "corked". There are several ways that a wine can go bad. Some are obvious as soon as you taste, if it is like moldy newspaper. Other taint is, tastes like vinegar. These are the 2 main "gone bad". If the cork is dry & crumbly that does not always mean the wine is bad. Just a pain if it needs to be strained. When a waiter wants you to taste the wine, take a sip. Wait maybe 5 or 10 seconds, take a breathe or two. If it tastes good, then let em know. If you are not sure, ask the waiter to taste it. If it does not really have much flavor, that is a harder kind of "gone bad" to detect, but sometime is the same chemical problem as when it smells like moldy newspaper. At low level of contamination, you don't get the moldy smell but you don't get much fruity flavor. Ask for help.

spotlightyah

Its like you study my feelings!You appear to understand so a lot about this,like you wrote the e book in it or some thing. House for sale abbotsbury

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