Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Wine Tastings and Wine Dinners – a Few Tips

September 13, 2018

Fall is a great time for many reasons, and wine is one of them! A return to red wines is a must, as is the hearty food that shows them off so well.

It can also mean more wine events, including tastings and wine dinners. I had the good fortunate to attend one of both this week and found a few “bugaboos” at each I thought I would share…they might increase you enjoyment at such events (and limit how much you annoy others!).

Wine Tastings

Select your wine and move on

This has to be my biggest pet peeve! People ask for a one from the rep and then just stand there, either tasting it or talking to the rep, while the line waits behind them! The unwritten rule – maybe it should be written – is get your wine, ask a quick question, and then move on so others can taste.

Spit don’t drink

If you are planning to taste more than a couple of wines, I strongly advise you to spit. Some people think its gross, but it isn’t – in fact, winemakers see it as as sign of respect. And its easy to do. If you don’t, you could end up getting drunk or worse (i.e. getting sick or falling down on someone…).

White then red…not back and forth

At most tastings, the red wine are young, which can mean at least some are tannic. That tends to coat the palate, making it harder to taste other wines. It can also make it almost impossible to taste more delicate white wines.

So have a plan…white before red works well. Same as with sweet wines, by the way…save them till the end or it could ruin any dry wines you go back on.

Wine Dinners

I won’t get into basic social niceties here…although they can definitely play a role (especially the more you drink!). But here are a couple of wine suggestions.

Drink the wines in order

There is a reason the wines are paired the way they are – they are supposed to go with certain dishes, and also not upstage the wines to come. If you jump around, it often impacts your enjoyment of both the food and the wine.

You don’t have to finish all the wine

If you are having 5 or 6 courses, the quantity of wine can add up quickly! So don’t feel like you have to finish each glass…it can end up making you tipsy before you get to the end of the meal!

Save a little in each glass to taste later

Depending on the wines, its also interesting to come back and taste them later. Young wines, in particular, soften up with exposure to air, and can end up tasting remarkable different – and better – after even 30 minutes sitting there!

So there you go…a few tips to help you through Fall!




May 21, 2014

I was in a wine store the other day looking for some wine for someone in my wine club. I knew exactly what I wanted – had seen that it was on the store’s website – but it quickly became evident that the wine wasn’t there. So I asked some advice.

And that is what generated the idea for this column.

The salesperson asked only how much I wanted to spend, and then quickly began to rattle off recommendations. She started with the most popular wineries, but they are the ones whose style of wines I don’t like much. When I referenced that, she just looked at me – and kept going. Finally, after a few minutes, I found a way to politely excuse myself from the store.

The point here wasn’t that the salesperson wasn’t trying to be helpful. It was – at least in my opinion – she was giving me the wrong kind of help.

When someone asks for wine advice, the first thing I always ask is – what style of wine do you like? Dry or sweet? Fruity or more herbal/woody? That then can lead me in the direction of wines that I think the person will like.

But what normally happens is the exact opposite. “This winery makes a great Cabernet, that winery makes a great Merlot”…that is what I hear. Nothing about what it tastes like, or whether that matches with what you like to drink.

For me, it is no problem – I know what I like, what is available, and I can just walk away. But for someone who is actually looking for advice, that person can – and usually probably does – walk out with something that he or she won’t like when it is opened.

So why don’t wine salespersons asked the right questions? I haven’t asked, but I bet it is lack of training. Or the fact that the so-called “big wineries” are the easiest to recommend, since they carry name recognition.

But if they really wanted to sell more wine – and have repeat customers – they would ask the simple question about style. And, assuming they knew the products they were selling, that would end up with a happy (and probably repeat) customer.

Last, but not least, is how do you take wine advice, whether you are a wine dweeb like me, or someone actually looking for it?

Politely, of course, is a good answer. It is never a good idea to insult anyone.

But it is also okay to ask questions and reply if what is recommended isn’t something you like. A good salesperson should respond to that (unfortunately mine didn’t in the example above).

The best way to respond to wine advice is the simplest – ask “what does it taste like?”. If the salesperson actually knows, he or she will tell you. If the salesperson doesn’t – or can’t – well, maybe it is time to find a different wine store!