Look, most people don’t really know much about wine, and if you’re reading this then you’re probably one of those people. While this isn’t going to ruin your life (unless of course you’re in the wine business), having a bit of wine knowledge – or faking it well enough – can be useful at work dinners and for impressing that cute guy you’ve been flirting with at CrossFit. Learning these few key phrases will signal that you’re no novice (even though you are), so tuck them in your back pocket and get ready to sound fancy at your next dinner party.
#1) “Oh, a [insert year and type of wine here]? We really should let this breathe.”
That $9.99 pinot from Liquor Mart doesn’t need to breathe. Or maybe it does. Who knows? Certainly not you. But guess what: nobody’s going to call you on it because unless it’s a pretty old bottle, “letting it breathe” is not going to hurt the wine. In fact, most wines - red and white - will improve within a half hour or so of opening, so break out your fancy decanter (The Pig & the Sprout uses this one) and you’ll look like an expert instantly.
#2) “This has a nice, bright acidity.”
Start commenting on acidity and body when tasting wine. All wines have acidity and body. ALL WINES. The trick is to have stock phrases that incorporate these two words so you sound like you know what you’re talking about, no matter what wine you’re drinking. Acidity means a wine tastes crisp and makes you produce saliva, like when you take a sip of lemonade. If you’re drinking white wine you can’t go wrong with exclaiming, “Mm, this one has a nice, bright acidity.” For red you might say, “The acidity is nicely balanced” (or you could just say “nice acidity” again, no one will disagree).
As for body, remember that generally white wines are lighter (with the possible exception of Chardonnay) and reds are fuller (the most classic example is Cabernet). When drinking white wine you can comment “Nice, light body,” which will apply to almost everything. For virtually any red (excepting Cabernets and possibly Syrahs/Petite Sirahs, which are generally always very full-bodied) you might say “Quite full-bodied, actually,” as if you’re surprised. Next time you’re drinking Cab, chuckle and quip “This is positively voluptuous,” like everyone’s in on the joke. They’ll laugh right along with you, trust me.
#3) “We’d love a bottle of the [vintage, region, varietal], please.”
It’s time to learn how to order wine in a restaurant correctly, you rube. Oh I know what you’ve been doing: either avoiding the wine list like the plague or skimming it desperately in hopes of finding a pronounceable name among the second-cheapest bottles on the list. Admit it, you jab your index finger at the wine you want and hope your server doesn’t make you say it out loud. No more, friend! It’s simple to order a bottle of wine with aplomb, and this is how.
First, reach confidently for the wine list and begin perusing, murmuring that they have “an interesting selection.” When you’ve located a bottle with a price you can live with, exclaim quietly, almost to yourself, “Ooh, they have an ‘04 [insert wine name here]!” and snap the wine list shut, a satisfied smile playing on your lips. When your server arrives, hand her the wine list magnanimously and state the vintage (year), region and type of grape (varietal) like so: “We’d love a bottle of the 2012 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.” No pointing, no flubbing. When the wine arrives, unless it tastes like straight vinegar tell them it’s great. Oh, and smelling the cork is a dead giveaway that you’re an amateur. So like, don’t.
For your next visit to The Pig & The Sprout try pairing these wines with the following dishes, they won't disappoint!
Barbera - Pico Maccario Lovignone - Piedmont, Italy ($11 glass) with the Avocado Bowl
Pinot Gris - Sass Winery - Willamette Valley, OR 2016 ($9 glass) with the Rocky Mountain Trout Entree
Riesling - Pierre Sparr - Alsace, France 2015 ($10 glass) with the Cauliflower Fried Rice
Pinot Noir - Ponzi Vineyards Tavola - Willamette Valley, OR 2015 ($15 glass) with the Pork Loin Chop
Malbec - Recuerdo - Mendoza,Argentina 2013 ($3 glass) with the Steak and Potatoes
Fladgate Port - 20 year ($18 glass) with the Bacon Sticky Toffee Pudding