You don’t have to be a sommelier to enjoy your red wine. Pour it, make a toast, drink it – that’s all there is to it! But these tips can help you know how to shop, serve and fully enjoy your wine. It can even help you develop your palate, so you know what you really like.
SHOPPING FOR RED WINE
The sheer variety of red wine varieties and labels can be overwhelming. But here’s a general rule: countries with colder climates (such as France, Germany, Italy, and the Pacific Northwest) tend to have light-body wines, while countries with warmer climates (such as Argentina and California) have sweeter and more full-bodied wines. That’s because the climate affects the kind of grapes they can grow and when they’re picked. However, there are always exceptions because vineyards do experiment with different soil types and processes to develop their own unique flavors.
BEST GLASSES FOR RED WINE
The shape of the glass actually does affect how much you enjoy the wine’s flavor and aroma. Here’s a crash course: a glass is made of the foot or base, the stem (where you hold it), the bowl, and the rim.
For red wine, use glasses with a round and wide bowl so that the bolder aromas can “breathe” and you can even swirl it to fully appreciate its sensory complexity. The Bordeaux glass is best for heavy and full-bodied wines like Cabernet’s, while the Burgundy glass is ideal for lighter wines like Pinot Noirs.
HOW TO SAVOUR RED WINE
You hear the terms “medium body” or “full body” – what does that mean? You’ll understand this as you pour the wine. Sometimes it coats the glass and seems thicker. Observe how it affects the flavor and your experience as you drink it.
You can also swirl the wine in the glass and look if the wine leaves “legs” as it flows down the sides of the glass. The “legs” can tell you how sweet a red wine is, and whether it has a high alcoholic content.
And of course, you have to enjoy the aroma of the wine. Stick your nose near the glass and inhale. What notes do you pick up? Is it fruity? Aside from the obvious scent of grapes, do you pick up citrus, strawberries, currants? Does it smell very sweet, or does it have a slight tartness to it as well?
Winemakers also try to infuse wines with other flavours, from rose to pepper even mint. It takes some time to develop your nose to pick those up, but it’s fun to give it a try.
You may also pick up the scent of the barrels the wine was aged in. It can remind you of some deep scents. Coffee? Smoke? Leather? You may not be able to place the scent exactly, but that adds another dimension that makes one kind of red wine different from the other.
Lastly, savour the taste. Let it rest in your tongue, and also stop after swallowing to detect any aftertaste. Being more conscious of the flavors of wine can help you understand why some wines cost more than others – cheap wines can be all sweetness and leave a terrible chalky aftertaste, while others are smooth and have a depth of flavor.