Wine For Dummies: The Questions About Wine You’re Too Embarrassed To Ask!

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By Rebecca King, USA Today

Posted March 14th 2019

 

This is for anyone who has ever stared blankly at a restaurant’s wine list and internally panicked about looking like an idiot in front of your waiter and dining companions. Or anyone who has tried a really expensive wine and thought, “Meh.” Or anyone who has nodded along blankly as someone spat words like “tannins” and “minerality” at them while discussing a bottle of fine wine.

Wine anxiety is real, but you don’t need to be a victim of it.

Our resident wine expert Sharon Sevrens, who owns Amanti Vino in Montclair and Morristown, is here to help. Sevrens, who this winter chose a dozen wines for our Mixed Case series, has agreed to answer the wine questions you’ve always wondered about but were too ashamed to ask.

The following is the advice she gave us on our dumbest questions:

Why do people aerate their wine?

Swirling your wine makes you look pretentious. But, it will also make you notice more of the flavors. If you’ve ever bought a wine that boasts a laundry list of flavors, only to take a sip and wonder where those “notes of lavender” are, it could be because you didn’t properly aerate your wine, according to Sevrens.

Aeration is simply the introduction of air to the wine. It can be done by swirling your wine or pouring it into a decanter (there is a use for it, after all). When air reaches the wine, it allows the aromas to be released. You’re actually not tasting more, you’re just smelling more.

“The truth is you smell much more than you can taste,” said Sevrens. So, go ahead, give your wine a swirl next time you drink it.

Should I chill my wine?

The golden rule is white wine should be served cold and red wine should be served at room temperature.

But, Sevrens said, “Americans tend to over-chill their white wine and under-chill their red wine.”

The colder your drink is, the less you can actually taste the flavors. The optimal serving temperature for red wine ranges from 62 to 68 degrees. Serve your white wine at a temperature between 49 and 55 degrees.

You should store all bottles at around 55 degrees before serving. Unless you have a controlled temperature wine case, this tip isn’t too helpful, lest you want to keep your house at a constant 55 degrees.

What does corked mean?

Corked means your wine has been ruined by bacteria getting into the wine through the cork. This makes it smell like a wet basement or wet cardboard.

A way to know if your wine is corked is to sniff it before you swirl it. If it smells bad it probably is.

The 12 wines Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino selected for Mixed Case. Shown in Montclair on Wednesday November 28, 2018.

No, but it ain’t going to taste good. The wine will oxidize and change the flavor.

What is minerality in wine?

When your wine has a “strong minerality,” it will have an earthy smell, like soil or leaves.

What are tannins?

“Tannin” is a vocab word you may not remember from any SAT prep classes, but it is something that’s essential to understanding wine. Tannin refers to the organic compound that adds dryness and bitterness to wine. Tannins come from grape skins, seeds and stems. They also work as a natural antioxidant in the wine to help preserve it for varietals that need to age longer and to add complexity of flavor to the wine.

How to drink wine like a sommelier:

Step 1: Pour your wine. A tip to stopping the flow of wine without spilling or splashing is to turn the bottle as you raise it up.

Step 2: Consider the color. White wines will get darker as they age and red wines will get lighter. Use of oak and different grapes will also add distinct colors.

Step 3: Smell the wine before you swirl to make sure your wine isn’t corked.

Step 4: Swirl the wine in your glass to aerate it.

Step 5: Put your nose into the mouth of the glass and smell again to appreciate the aromas that just got aerated.

Step 6: As you drink the wine, suck some air over your mouth. This continues to aerate the wine. Move the wine around your mouth and notice the fruit flavors on the tip of your tongue, the acidity on the sides and the tannins down the center.

“You look silly doing it but you really get to appreciate the flavor,” said Sevrens.

This article originally appeared on North Jersey Record:

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