Recently, someone reached out to me on Instagram and shared that they enjoy wine but have a hard time picking and choosing new ones. So, I thought that this month I would share some tips on picking wines and share some of my experiences with trying new ones.
It all started back in 2007, it was my first glass of wine, and I shared with my now hubby that I had not had any wine before. This was exciting news for him, he knew that I loved juice so he figured that a sweet wine would be right up my alley. After doing some research and reaching out to a cousin of his, they determined that a Riesling would be the best wine for me to try. Long story short, I DID NOT LIKE THAT WINE! And haven’t had a glass of Riesling since then! But recently, hubby and I went out on a date night and the waiter recommended a glass of Riesling that he was sure I was going to love. We decided to try it and low and behold I DID!!! It was crisp, had a light effervescence, with notes of peach and green apple. It was a 2016 Dr. Loosen Riesling and I paired it with a clam chowder. Deeelicious!! So it took 11 years for me to discover that I did indeed enjoy Riesling.
Another interesting experience I have had with trying a new wine occurred one day when hubby and I were taking a Texas Wine Trail tour. At this point in my wine journey I had really enjoyed Cabernets and Zinfandels. They are full bodied, dry wines with hints of berry and earth. Sometimes you will find some with hints of oak but usually they are not heavy on the oak, at least the ones that I have had thus far. I wasn’t too fond of Merlots and I explained this to the Sommelier but he insisted that I tried this particular Merlot. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the wine as I had not started my wine journal at that point in my life but I remember the scenery of the vineyard. Anyway, the Sommelier insisted that I try this wine and was very offended when I told him that I did not like Merlots. His response was: “Have you had every Merlot that was ever made?” No, I responded. “Then you shouldn’t say that you do not like Merlots. Instead, you didn’t like that particular Merlot.” He was right! I did enjoy that glass of wine. Now, it could have been that I had a couple of tastings prior. It could have been that I was more open minded but I’m sure he was right because I did a blind wine taste with hubby, Velvet Devil was the wine, and I enjoyed the wine and it had Merlot in the blend.
I shared these experiences with you just to encourage you to be adventurous when exploring wines and know that just because you had a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and didn’t like it, doesn’t mean that you don’t like that particular grape varietal or that you don’t like wine in general. So, Tip #1: Be Adventurous and Don’t Give Up when trying New Wines.
Tip #2: Attend Wine Tastings, Wine Dinners, and Sample Wines while at the Grocer or Beverage Center. Usually, the distributors, definitely the Sommeliers, and those handing out the wine samples are skilled in their field. Feel free to ask questions, take advantage of the free sample and see if you like the wine before buying it. Also, by going to wineries, you will gain a vast range of knowledge about wine and wine pairings. Also, the Sommeliers are highly trained and love giving recommendations, use that opportunity to tap into their brains. They will help you find a wine that you might enjoy.
Tip #3: Ask Questions. Anytime I go out to eat and before I order a glass of wine with my meal, I ask the Server a few questions:
- What wine would you recommend with this dish?
- What is your favorite wine on the menu?
- Which wine is popular here?
- I am looking at getting this glass of wine, have you tried it? Sometimes, they will give you a sample before you order the glass.
- I don’t particularly care for heavy oak notes, so I will ask if the wine is heavy in oak (for Red Wines). Feel free to share notes you like or don’t like and the Server should be able to direct you.
Tip #4: Pair the Wine with Food or Let it stand alone. There have been several times when I tasted a wine and did not like it but when my meal came the wine suddenly was exquisite. Sometimes, food, whether it be a whole meal or a light snack such as cheese, crackers, olives or cured meats will really open up the profile of the wine. This works in the reverse as well. Sometimes, the wine is bettered enjoyed on its own and food will just detract from its beauty. These wines are bettered enjoyed as an aperitif (before the meal) or by itself for relaxation, good conversation or deep thought. Such as a Port, these are a good after dinner treat.
Tip #5 Let the Wine Breathe. There also have been times when I sipped some wine and just did not like it or couldn’t pick up any notes but after letting it sit for about 30 mins the sip was much more pleasant. After letting the wine breathe, I was also able to pick up on the notes that I had not been able to 30 minutes prior.
Well Smileys, I hope that you find these tips helpful and that this opens your mind and hearts to new adventures in your Wine Journey.
Salúd! XOXO, Smiling Danny