wine Tips for drink­ing smarter, bet­ter

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Michelle Locke

Aim­ing for a new and im­proved you in 2016? That’s tough. Im­prov­ing your wine ex­pe­ri­ence? That’s not hard at all.

Be­cause if you want to drink bet­ter wine, the first step is drink­ing wine bet­ter. To help you get the job done, we asked the pros for their best wine drink­ing tips that will make you a bet­ter per­son ( or at least a bet­ter drinker).

Learn by de­grees

Aim for a middle ground when it comes to tem­per­a­ture. Good reds taste bet­ter with a lit­tle chill on them and good whites taste bet­ter when they’re not ice cold, says Joe Cam­panale, co- owner and bev­er­age di­rec­tor for Epicurean Group, which in­cludes the New York City neigh­bor­hood restau­rants dell’an­ima, An­fora and L’Ar­tusi. So if a red wine isn’t be­ing pulled from a tem­per­a­ture con­trolled cel­lar or wine re­frig­er­a­tor, put the bot­tle in a re­frig­er­a­tor for 15 to 20 min­utes ( or un­til slightly cool to the touch) be­fore serv­ing, says Jes­sica Pin­zon, wine di­rec­tor of the Napa Val­ley’s Mim­i­nashi restau­rant. “Wine shows more acid­ity and min­er­al­ity at a cooler tem­per­a­ture, and more fruit and al­co­hol at a warmer tem­per­a­ture. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the tran­si­tion of ( wine) warm­ing up in the glass will en­hance your un­der­stand­ing and en­joy­ment of the wine,” she says.

Add a touch of glass

Use clean, clear glasses with a good stem, says Cam­panale, who hosts the weekly “In the Drink” pro­gram on Her­itage Ra­dio Net­work. He uses Bordeaux- shaped glasses ( your ba­sic red wine glass) for “pretty much all wine, in­clud­ing Cham­pagne.” The stem plays an im­por­tant role— keep­ing your fin­gers from warm­ing the wine.

Age wisely

Drink most white wines young, says Gor­dana Kos­tovski, gen­eral man­ager and som­me­lier/ bev­er­age di­rec­tor of the Volver restau­rant in Philadel­phia. And th­ese days many red wines are made ready to drink on pur­chase, too. Big red wines, on the other hand— think French Bordeaux— may need a lit­tle more time. Won­der­ing how long? That’s a hard ques­tion to an­swer since wines vary. You can ask for clues at the wine shop, or some­times the la­bel or wine web­site will of­fer sug­ges­tions.

De­velop a bub­bly per­son­al­ity

“Drink more bub­bles,” is the ad­vice of Andy My­ers, mas­ter som­me­lier and wine di­rec­tor for Wash­ing­ton, D. C.- based chef Jose An­dres’ Think Food Group. His pick, Raven­tos I Blanc “De Nit” rosé from Spain. And skip the flute, says Kosovski. Serve bub­bles in a coup or reg­u­lar wine glass.

Dare to de­cant

De­cant­ing a wine is good all around. Whether young or old, a wine im­proves when ex­posed to a lit­tle air ( which oc­curs nat­u­rally when pour­ing the wine from the bot­tle into a de­canter). And care­ful pour­ing also means you leave any sed­i­ment in the bot­tle. “De­canters aren’t just for somber, can­dle- lit cer­e­monies to sep­a­rate the sed­i­ment out of ven­er­a­ble, old bot­tles,” says David Kravitz, cer­ti­fied mas­ter som­me­lier and bev­er­age di­rec­tor of The Smith Restau­rants in New York. “Young, in­ex­pen­sive wines are of­ten im­proved with a good, hard splash de­cant­ing. Oxy­gen will open up the fruit and ease the tan­nins.”

Note: If you’ve got a de­canter gath­er­ing dust at the back of the cup­board, now’s the time to use it. If not, sim­ply pour the wine into a clean pitcher or vase, says Pin­zon. And don’t limit this to reds, she says. Cham­pagne, white wine or rosé can ben­e­fit from de­cant­ing, too.

Use savvy stor­age

Store wine on its side and in con­tact with its cork, says Kos­tovski. And if you’ve got a wine re­frig­er­a­tor, keep it in there at 55 de­grees F. If not, look for a spot in a base­ment or closet that’s shaded from heat and light. Or­ga­nize your wine and know what you have so you don’t for­get it and leave it too long. And, says Kos­tovski, think about in­vest­ing in a Coravin, the de­vice that al­lows you to sam­ple wine re­peat­edly with­out pulling the cork.

Hav­ing friends over for din­ner and plan to open a nice, older bot­tle of wine? Stand the bot­tle upright ( ideally at cel­lar tem­per­a­ture, or some­where be­tween 50 F to 64 F) for a cou­ple of days be­fore the din­ner party, ad­vises Pin­zon. This al­lows any sed­i­ment that may have set­tled in the shoul­der of the bot­tle to set­tle at the bot­tom in­stead, mak­ing serv­ing or de­cant­ing cleaner and more ideal.

Prime that wine

Drink­ing two wines at din­ner out of one glass? Don’t rinse the glass with wa­ter to make the change, says Chloe Helfland, som­me­lier at Bazaar-Meat in the SLS Ho­tel Las Ve­gas. Once the glass is empty, pour in a lit­tle of the se­cond wine, swirl it, dump the rinse and you’re ready for a proper pour.

Shop smarter

There’s no hack­ing a re­ally bad wine. Cam­panale rec­om­mends go­ing to a good wine shop to get a head start. If you find a wine you like, make a note of the pro­ducer; you’ll prob­a­bly like some of their other wines, too.


Learn­ing about and de­vel­op­ing an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for wine is in­ter­est­ing, but don’t make it a chore. “Have fun and en­joy the wine; pair it with food and friends,” rec­om­mends Kos­tovski. And while you’re swirling and sip­ping— but not while pour­ing— try clos­ing your eyes. “Feel the wine through your senses,” she says, “Wine is ro­man­tic!”

Matthew Mead, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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