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We asked ourselves one day: what are the things we wish we had known when we first started drinking wine?
The answer to that question is how this list of wine-drinking tips came to life.
We learned the hard way by making many mistakes, but there is no reason you should go the same route. Keep on reading to get simple, actionable suggestions so you can make the most of every single bottle of wine you get your hands on!
Don’t save the best wine for last
We’ve all been there: plan a dinner party, select the bottles for the evening, and save the best wine for the end of the night. In theory, it’s perfect – a crescendo, right?
In reality – dinner parties are not wine tastings. By the time you get to the last wine the guests are already too distracted, too drunk, and/or too full. The wine will be drunk as an afterthought and won’t receive the appreciation it deserves.
From now on, get to that good wine as the second or third bottle of the evening. By that time everyone relaxed, the wine receives the appreciation it deserves, and the night starts on a high note.
Give wines time to recover from “travel-shock”
We always get excited about new wine purchases so our instinct is to drink them right away. Unfortunately, that’s not ideal as the wine needs time to stabilize after being transported.
The ideal scenario: whenever possible, let the wine rest for a few days (up to a week or two for a particularly delicate wine) in appropriate storage conditions after you purchase it.
On that note, here’s a handy video with some tips on how to travel with wine:
Don’t confuse wine body with complexity
Full-body red wines are more “on your face” type of wines and immediately attack your palate. People often equate that abrasiveness with complexity and consider “bigger wines” or “bolder wines” to be the most valuable.
It’s a mistake – a wine body is simply a reflection of the sugar and alcohol content. It doesn’t correlate to complexity.
When tasting new wines, shift your focus from the wine body and focus on aromas, balance, subtlety, nuances, freshness, and other elements that make that wine unique.
Image credit: Wine Folly
Drink different wines
Here’s one consensus in the wine world: in order to become a better wine drinker you need to not only drink a lot of wines but more importantly – drink a lot of different wines.
We understand it’s hard to take a risk on a different producer or grape when you have a favorite wine that always hits the spot. Our suggestion? Baby steps.
If you love Cabernet Sauvignon wines, add a Cabernet Franc to your next order. Or if you usually go for Pinot Noir, try a Pinot from a different region (New Zealand Pinots, for example, are delicious and super underrated).
Even a small risk can make your wine-drinking journey much more interesting!
Don’t over-chill white wines
Overchilling is the mistake we notice most often when it comes to white wines. When the wine is served too cold, you taste only freshness and acidity, and the aromas are completely dead (sometimes you get some citrus notes bravely fighting their way through the cold).
Low temperature can hide mistakes, that’s why restaurants that serve cheap wines will serve them super chilled. However, if you do the same to a good wine, the cold will hide everything that makes it special.
Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Viognier wines, for example, definitely shouldn’t be served too cold. As a general rule, aromatic and oak-aged white wines should be served at 55F or 13C (not too cold).
Don’t overthink the food menu
We have a very simple rule:
the more complex the wine, the simpler the food should be.
If both your wine and food have tons of complex flavors, your palate will be overwhelmed and it will be harder to notice the complexities in the wine.
For dinner parties, go with wines that are versatile and food friendly. Reserve complex wines for special wine nights where you focus on the wine and have the food just as a supporting role.
In our personal experience, a simple board with aged cheeses, nuts, and berries is the perfect food pairing for complex and nuanced wines. In short, let the wine be the star of the evening every now and then.
Sneak in a winery visit to every vacation
Photo: Vanusa tasting volcanic wines in Santorini
Wine will never taste better than it does right at the winery. That’s just a fact – drinking wines in the context in which they were made, surrounded by the vines, with the soil and entire terroir in full view is the utmost ideal condition to enjoy any wine.
With that said, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to sneak in a winery visit in most (if not all) of your travels.
Heading to Mexico City? Querétaro and Guanajuato producers make delicious Mexican wines and are just a 2-hour drive away. Spending some time in Barcelona? Enjoy some cava in Pénedes, just one hour outside of the city.
With new wine regions popping up everywhere, it’s easier to visit wineries everywhere you go. We even visited wineries in Peru on our last trip and it was incredible!
Get used to sediments in your wine
Finding sediments at the bottom of a bottle was a rare thing just a few years ago, but now it’s become super common. What’s that all about?
Don’t be tempted to request a refund! The sediments are completely harmless and, in fact, can add flavor and character to the wine.
The “gunk in your glass” is common nowadays because more producers are adhering to low and minimal intervention winemaking, and skipping some steps in the winemaking processes that were there for aesthetic purposes only (mainly filtration, clarification, and stabilization).