1. Sip your wine. Wine is best when sipped and savored, as opposed to being gulped down. Take a small-to-medium sized sips of wine, and hold the wine in the center of your tongue before swallowing. This will allow you to taste the complex flavors of the wine.
- Red wine is typically rich in flavor and is much better when sipped and savored. It can be served with dinner or dessert, or be sipped on its own. Drink your wine slowly so that you can truly appreciate its flavor. Swirl your wine before taking every sip, this will allow your wine to oxidize even more.
- White wine can be sipped on its own, but also goes well with a variety of meals and desserts. White wines tend to be more refreshing than reds, so they balance out rich flavors nicely. Take one small sip of wine at a time, and let the flavor of the wine settle on your tastebuds before swallowing
2. Pair your wine with the proper food. There are a few factors to consider when pairing your wine with food – it's easiest to think of pairing as a balancing act. For example, sparkling wines go perfectly with salty, fried foods. The carbonation and acids emulate beer and clean the salt from your palate with each sip.
- Choose silky white wines with foods like fatty fish or cream sauces. Chardonnays, for example, are delicious with fish like salmon or any kind of seafood in a lush sauce.
- Pair a dry Rosé with rich, cheesy dishes. Some cheeses usually go better with white wine, and some are best with red. However, almost all cheeses pair well with dry rosé, which has the acidity of white wine and the fruitiness of a red.
- Red wines such as Cabernet and Bordeaux are terrific with red meats like steaks and chops. They refresh the palate after each bit of meat.
- With desserts, make sure that the wine tastes as sweet, or sweeter, than the dessert. For example, pair a bitter, dark chocolate and a red wine with some sweetness, such as a late harvest Zinfandel.
3. Switch wines. When drinking and tasting wine, it is common to try a variety of reds or whites. You should move from lighter, sweeter wines to fuller, drier wines. If you want to try both reds and whites, start with white wines and work your way to the reds. If you're drinking wine with a meal, drink a chardonnay with your dinner, and move to a red wine for your after dinner drink. You could also choose a sweet red wine to have with dessert.
Remember, the rationale behind holding a wine glass by the stem is to avoid warming its contents in your hand (that and getting your grubby fingerprints all over the bowl). Delicately holding the vessel by the stem is altogether more elegant than a rather crass grabbing of the glass. So what other wine crimes should one aim to avoid in polite society?
- Avoid small glasses: Countless column inches have been wasted on the selection of the correct glass. Manufacturers (hardly disinterested parties) would have you believe you need a different one for each grape variety. This is, as the French say, beau-lox. For most wines (including champagne) a reasonably large glass, with a lip narrower than its base, will do the job.
- Fill it to the right level: More important than size or shape is how full it is. Leaving two-thirds empty will allow you to swirl the wine ostentatiously (to release its aroma) before appraising the smell, or “nose” (never “bouquet”).
- Sniff before you slurp: When offered a wine to taste, a quick sniff is sufficient to detect the musty aroma of the dreaded “corked” wine. And no, this does not mean there are bits of cork floating on the surface. But you knew that, right?