Wine can be intimidating. A lot of people who don’t know how to drink wine shy away from it because of all the social rules that come with it. But, the truth is, drinking wine is actually very subjective. There may be standards set in the industry but enjoying a good glass of wine all comes down to personal preference.
However, there are certain dos and don’ts to drinking wine that can mean the difference between enjoying the experience and hating it. These can include drinking wine at the wrong temperature, or using the wrong glass, or putting ice in your wine.
Knowing a few simple tips and steps to drink wine can make the experience enjoyable, rather than an experience where you end up scratching your head as to why so many people around the world love drinking wine every day.
In this guide on how to drink wine, we’ll cover the basics of what wine glass to use, how to pair wine with food, and whether or not wine’s aroma needs to be sniffed.
How to Hold a Wine Glass
Is there a proper way to hold a wine glass? Yes, there is. There are basically 4 parts of a wine glass, which are: the base, the stem, the bowl, and the rim. You can hold either the base or the stem, but the bowl and rim are not for your hands.
You would need to hold the wine glass as close to the base as possible. This involves pinching or gripping the part of the stem that’s closest to the base. Hold the stem between your thumb and forefinger. You can also include your middle finger when you grip the stem, and the rest of your fingers will naturally fall around the base.
While this is the standard way of holding a wine glass, you can hold it any way you like as long as your fingers are close to the base. You should not hold the bowl of the glass, also known as the “housewife” hold, because touching the bowl will transfer your body temperature to the wine, making it warmer. Whether it’s red or white wine, warming the wine can dramatically change its aroma and flavor.
There are instances when you can do that, though. If the white wine is served too cold, you can increase its temperature by holding the bowl of the wine glass.
In the case of stemless wine glasses, you can hold the glass on the base and far from the middle or top part of the glass.
Choosing the Correct Wine Glass
As mentioned earlier, using the proper wine glass is essential in making sure your wine drinking experience is maximized.
There are different shapes and sizes of glassware for wine and although they may look similar, there are actually small differences between the glasses that make them specific for a partial kind of wine.
Red wine glasses, for example, are wider and have a wider opening. These glasses have bigger bowls to allow red wine to come in contact with more air. Red wine needs to be oxidized in order for its flavors to fully develop. As the red wine oxidizes, its genuine character becomes more pronounced and richer in flavor.
The wider bowl also gives you more space to swirl the wine for more oxidation.
White wine glasses are a little narrower than red wine glasses. Their rims are also a little more tapered to trap in aromas and flavors. They do not need wide or large bowls because they don’t need as much air to breathe compared to red wine.
Champagne glasses or flute glasses are thin, taller, and very narrow. Sparkling wine needs the narrow and tall shape of a wine glass for its carbon dioxide to rise up, producing more bubbles. The rim is also more tapered to reduce the area for carbonation to escape.
In terms of the material of the glassware, crystal wine glasses are more preferred than glass and other materials because they can be made very thinly but still durable enough to last for many years of use. Wine connoisseurs believe the thinner the rim the more pleasurable it is to drink wine.
How to Fill The Wine Glass
Drinking wine will also feel different depending on how you pour and fill your wine glass. For example, pouring red wine involves getting the bottle as close to the glass as possible, pouring the standard pour, then slowly twist the bottle upward to prevent drips and spills.
For white wine, wrap a napkin around the neck of the bottle for insulation before pouring, to avoid warming the bottle if you hold it with your bare hands.
When it comes to how much wine you fill in a wine glass, do not fill the glass up to its rim. For red wine, the rule is one-third full, while for white wine, the rule is half full, and for sparkling wine, it’s three-quarters full.
This way, red wine can have more air to breathe, white wine can have enough space to stay cool, and sparkling wine can have enough space to carbonate.
Proper Temperature for Drinking Wine
If you’re new to drinking wine, you might be wondering whether or not to chill your wine or add ice. It can be confusing if you’ve never drunk wine or you’re new to the wine-drinking experience. So here’s a guide on how to serve wine in their most recommended temperatures.
The standard has always been to serve a red wine at room temperature. If you had just bought it from a store and you’re home, you can place it on your countertop or inside your cupboard before serving.
However, some room temperatures are hotter or colder than basic room temperature, and this is where you might need to reassess whether serving or pouring red wine straight from the bottle is best.
If the room is too cold, you might need to warm it up a little bit before serving. If the room is too hot, you might need to cool it in a kitchen fridge for a few minutes or an hour. The best temperature for serving red wine is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
For white wine, the rule is always to chill it before serving. It must be served chilled so place it in a fridge for two hours before serving. The perfect temperature range for white wine is 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This also goes with sparkling wine and rose wine.
You can purchase a wine thermometer if you want to get the right temperature for your wine bottle. Simply place your thermometer around the bottle to get its temperature.
If your white wine is too cold when you take it out of the fridge, you can submerge it in warm water before serving.
Why do you need to take note of the right temperature when serving wine? Well, serving red wine that’s too warm can make it too acidic. Serving white wine that’s too cold can make the flavors muted.
The perfect temperature can bring out the full flavor and character of the wine, which will make your wine drinking experience more enjoyable and pleasurable.
How to Taste Wine
- Smell the Wine’s Aroma
Before taking a sip, you need to experience the wine’s aromas first. To do this, you need to swirl the wine inside the glass to expose it to a wide surface area. By increasing the wine’s contact with air, the process intensifies the aroma of your wine, giving you a glimpse of fragrances. Common aromas in wine include flowery, citrusy, herbal, and fruity notes.
Once you swirl the wine, drop your nose as close to the rim but without touching the glass, and simply smell the aromas that are coming out of the wine.
Smell the aromas with each swirl and take in the scents that get intensified as you continue to swirl. The general taste of wine is not just the flavor, but also the smells that come out as you take your first sip so don’t skip on swirling and smelling the fragrances that come out of the wine.
- Sipping Versus Drinking
Wine is best enjoyed when sipped and savored, as compared to directly gulping it down. In most restaurants, you will be served a small pour of wine for which to sip it to check for flaws or whether or not you like it.
To do this, take a small to medium sip of wine and hold it in the center of your tongue. Hold it for 5 to 10 seconds before swallowing. This will allow you to taste the complex flavors of wine. After you swallow, take a moment to experience the aftertaste or finish. High-quality wine will give off a refined finish that will linger on your palate.
How to Drink Wine with Food?
Pairing wine with food is all about balance. Usually, the heavier the weight of the wine, the heavier the weight of the food. The lighter the weight of the wine, the lighter the weight of the food.
For example, red wine, which is typically rich in flavor, is best served with red meat and steaks. For white wine, it is best served with seafood dishes and meals with creamy sauces.
For Rose’, it’s best served with cheese as it goes well with more cheesy dishes.
And sparkling wine is best served with salty or fried foods. The carbonation of the sparkling wine and acids clear the palate with each sip.
While these are mostly recommendations, there is no hard rule to pairing wine with food. Yes, some wines do enhance the flavors of certain dishes, but in the end, it’s always a subjective experience.
You will have to decide which pairings you like most. You can pair red wine with creamy dishes, and sparkling wine with dessert, the choice is always up to you.
How to Drink Wine for Beginners
If you’ve never drunk wine before and you’d like to give it a try, or you’ve been drinking wine and you want to elevate your experience, then here are some tips for making the most of drinking wine.
- Try a Sweet Wine
If you’re new to wine drinking, you might start with a sweet wine. You can try Moscato, Riesling, or Port wine as they are more beginner-friendly and not as intimidating as red wine and fuller-bodied wine with complex flavors.
Once you get started, you can start tasting other wines that have more tannin, more acidity, and higher alcohol levels, until you find the perfect wine style that suits your preferences.
- Try a Specific Wine at Least 5 Times
If you try Moscato and you don’t like it, don’t give up on it yet. Taste it at least 5 times so you can experience the full aromas and complexity of flavors. Tasting a wine style once won’t give you the entire experience so you must drink it at least 5 times to determine whether the wine style is for you or not.
- Swirl, Sip, and Drink
Always swirl the wine in the wine glass, take small sips, and swallow. While gulping wine down is something that a lot of people enjoy, swirling and sipping before swallowing gives the wine drinking experience more complexity and enjoyment.
- Don’t Drink Too Much Wine
A glass or two is enough to enjoy the nuances and complexities of wine. Drinking too much or getting drunk on wine defeats the purpose of the experience as you won’t be able to appreciate its flavors and aromas as well as you should. Remember that taking small sips and savoring wine is the best way to enjoy it.
- Don’t Put Ice
White wine is best served chilled but if it’s not chilled, do not put ice in it no matter what. Putting ice in white wine will change its features. It will destroy the balance of the flavors and the temperature. If you want to drink white wine and you don’t have an hour or two to wait for it to cool in a fridge, submerge it in a bucket of ice instead.
- Don’t Wear a Strong Perfume When You Drink Wine
If you’re planning on a wine tour or going to dinner with wine, do not wear a strong perfume. Remember that the taste of wine is a balance of aromas and flavors. Strong perfume can hinder your sense of smell, which is essential so you can fully immerse yourself in the wine-drinking experience.
Drinking wine is not intimidating, in fact, it is quite simple and pleasurable once you know the basics. As long as you know the proper temperature, the right wine glass to use, how to pour wine, and how to taste wine, you’ll end up enjoying the experience, which will leave you wanting more.
Always swirl, sip, and savor your wine before swallowing to truly get a grasp of the nuances and complexities of the great wine you’re drinking.