Tag Archives: wine facts

A rap on my ‘wine’ knuckles ;)

imagesSo, Monday’s blogpost, imploring wine guzzlers* to slow down and enjoy the smells and taste of wine brought a swift response from past student, friend and blog reader P.W. who is a serious wine aficionado**! He told me he was enjoying reading the blogpost, agreeing with everything I’d written, and suddenly as he came to the end he remembered his experiences of wine appreciation and thought “no, no, no…she (me!) missed the very beginning…the early steps”! He was gallant enough to say he understood that my post was only about identifying the aromas…but maintained his position that the first few steps cannot go unmentioned, and all five senses must be incorporated into wine appreciation from the get go. And here are the steps he would have liked to see in the blogpost ;)…

Begin with ‘touch’ — take the bottle in one hand and open with the other (another French friend had mentioned to me some years ago, while traveling through France, to cradle and hold the bottle with the same tenderness you’d reserve for a woman :)! ) Corks, says P.W., are better than screw caps, since they allow the wine to breathe. To enable the cork to remain in the perfect, not-too-wet-not-too-dry state, store the bottles horizontally. He then advises us to pay attention to the sound of the bottle being uncorked, and spend a few moments to enjoy this sound…he calls it the sound of a ‘convivial event’ :)!

10429927t_jpg_pagespeed_ce_ayylPLj48EP.W. moved on to holding up the bottle and examining it, to observe if a vintage bottle has lost wine due to evaporation, and if the tannins have broken down, creating sedimentation. These changes mean that the wine is old,  but may mean that the wine is very good, or perhaps has turned to vinegar ;0!

The next step is to read the label! If you know the wine you may remember the last time you drank it, ‘and the pleasure, or the headache, it gave you’ — I loved this line from him ;)! He continued: ‘Even if you don’t know the wine, the info from the label can give you an idea of its taste’.

Now, pour a bit into a glass, to examine its color. For red wines, if the color is dark, the tannins are strong, and the reverse is also true. As for the whites, the paler the color, the lighter tasting the wine…and again, the reverse is true!

NOW, you can begin to ‘sniff’ it, he said…and I almost rapped his knuckles :), because this is the point I’d started MY post at, which didn’t impress him much ;)! He does remind us, finally, to ensure that the reds are at room temperature, and the champagnes and other whites are not over-cold! Tchin tchin, guys…wine only creates friendships, no enmities ;)!!! P.W. is a valued friend, and will remain so!

*Guzzler means someone who drinks in big gulps (or someone who may drink heavily)

**An aficionado is someone who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime


Must-know wine facts :)


  • “Beer before wine? Nein, nein!” This funny sounding expression means, don’t drink beer just before wine :)! Nein, means ‘No’ in German. Strong tasting drinks and high percentage alcohol are not drunk just before wines, because the taste buds are not able to discern and appreciate soon after, the aromas* and bouquet** of wines, a discernment which is a very important part of the enjoyment of wine-drinking.


  • Another wise quip goes, “Rouge avant le blanc, ne bouge pas!” This translates from French to mean, don’t drink red wines before white — for the same reason as described above. Red wines, with their tannins***, and a more robust taste, would overpower the more delicate whites if drunk first. First white, then red, always! The exception are the sweet white wines that accompany desserts or drunk on their own as dessert.


  • There IS a right and wrong way to hold a wine glass. Wine glasses should always be held by the stem and not the bowl because the heat of the hand will raise the temperature of the wine in the glass. This is especially true of white wines. Anyone who knows anything about wines will NEVER hold a wine glass from the bowl — if you want to look knowledgeable about wines, pay attention to how you’re holding your glass ;)! The picture alongside is very feminine, but the rule applies to men too ;)…and I have this from my wine instructor…
  • Then there’s the person known as the “cork-tease” — this is someone who’s always talking about a fine bottle of wine he/she will open, but never does 🙂

*The word ‘aroma’ is used for the fragrance of young wines

**The word ‘bouquet’ is used for the fragrance of mature wines

***Tannins, through their astringent taste, are what make the gums tingle and the mouth dry and puckerish when you take a sip of red wine. Tannins are very important to red wine, providing, color, flavor and structure and acting as a preservative. Often, wines with heavy tannins are meant to be aged or “cellared” for some time. This makes the tannins mellow out, enhancing the wine’s body and flavor. A good example is the Bordeaux wines, which may be “cellared”