When we were younger, many of us overindulged (and paid the price many times over…) in wine because it was a novel thing to do. And the cheaper the wine was, the better because we could afford more of it!
As we became more settled in our jobs and climb up the corporate ladder, we started to appreciate the finer wines in life and discern what we liked and what we didn’t. We read a bit more, went to wine tastings, and were able to have good discussions at a dinner party about the latest vintages.
However, for those of us who’re wine newbies but really want to start building up our knowledge, occasions with experienced wine connoisseurs can become a bit intimidating. Here are a couple of wine-related talking points for you to engage in when you’re at your next dinner party.
The first thing that people will speak about when judging wine is the nose – in other words, the aroma or what it smells like. Different bouquets are usually indicative of various types of wine. For example, the Wine Guy says that you’ll be able to pick up:
- Cherry notes in a pinot noir,
- Blackcurrant notes in a cabernet sauvignon, and
- Turkish Delight notes in the German varietal, the Gewürztraminer
After tasting the wine, some people may put their hand over the mouth of the glass and vigorously shake it. This is not a secret wine ritual – don’t worry! People do this to aerate the wine and see what other notes develop when they’ve introduced more oxygen to the wine. Wine Spectator says that the process of aerating the wine causes undesirable elements in the wine – such as excess tannins – to evaporate so that the true nature of the wine comes through.
When people refer to the ‘palate’ of the wine, all they’re referring to is how the wine tastes. In order to really appreciate the full complexity of the wine, you need to take very small sips of the wine and let it roll around your tongue as different parts of your tongue appreciate different tastes:
- The front of your tongue appreciates sweet tastes,
- The sides of your tongue appreciate salty and bitter tastes, and
- The back of your tongue appreciates bitter tastes.
Don’t worry if – after tasting a lot of wines – you can’t tell the difference between them! This is totally normal, so if you feel this way go for a bland cracker that isn’t salted or a piece of bread without any condiments on it. Take break, play slots games online and have a good, long chew. This neutral taste will reset your palate and allow you to appreciate the different notes in the wines.
Engaging in fruitful (pun intended!) conversations about wine doesn’t have to mean that you know EVERYTHING about wine – so much so that you become an amateur sommelier. Talk about wines that you like – and they don’t have to have a hefty price tag to merit the conversation. Who knows? You may even convert a few people to your tastes!