Ladies and Gentlemen, before you go through the wine list when you are dining out, there are some basic rule of thumbs that one should remember. The last thing you would want is to make yourself look foolish when the sommelier brings you the wine for inspection, only for you to smell the cork!
I have had wine that are relatively young in vintage but were absolute crackers at a bargain price. I have also had wine that cost a fortune that only ended up being mediocre at best. The moral of the story is when you go through the wine list or even your local wine cellar, ask the sommelier/cellar keeper for what is the best wine to suit ‘your taste’ at that particular point in time. Don’t go spending an arm and a leg on a Grange when your pallette is perfectly happy with a $20 bottle of Yalumba Scribbler. Bear in mind that a lot of the times, the oak barrel used for top tier wines are reused for consumer tier wines as well, so with a bit of research you can dig up $20 wine that has similar character and note as its more expensive cousin.
Decant the wine if you can
You may think that you will look like a snobby high brow when you ask for the wine to be served with a decanter (a jar-looking device that airs out the wine), but do this and your pallette will become a winner. This is especially apparent with younger wines that haven’t had the time to mature in the bottle, so the aeration from the decanter brings out the body – think of it as ‘helping’ the true flavours and character to come out. I have tried this myself and let me tell you, with good aeration and decanting, the difference is like tasting juice from potential acid. On the other hand, older wines don’t like to be moved around or shaken too much, so open up the flavour in a suitable wine glass instead.
Do not sniff the cork please
With the acceptance of screwcap tops in wine nowadays, there is a low chance that you will have to fiddle around with the wine opener to pull out the cork. But if you do order an older vintage wine, please do not smell the cork! Not only will you look like a total fool, but the act of smelling does absolutely nothing to point out if the wine has gone off or not. You can however, look at the cork to see if there are any seepage marks on the side of it, which may indicate that the seal was not tight when the wine first bottled, thus letting in oxygen to spoil the wine. If the cork is also dry and brittle, it may also indicate the lack of proper storage, adding to the chances that the wine is no good. The best way to test the wine is to smell the wine before you taste it. The combination of having your olfactory sensors being activated by smelling the wine, as well as letting your taste buds taste the wine, will definitely tell you whether to accept or reject the bottle that you just ordered.
Not all white wine needs to be served chilled
Generally speaking, aromatics such as sauvignon blanc and riesling should be served chilled. On the other hand, more textural varieties such as pinot gris and chardonnay should be served just slightly colder than room temperature to show off its full character. What you don’t want is to serve whites super-chilled, as all you’ll taste is tannic flavours with a touch of sourness. Remember, you’re not drinking sparkling soft drink but wine, so you need to give it a chance to show you what flavour it has.
Challenge the traditional red with red, white with white
Yes, it is generally safer if you stick with red wine with red meat/red-coloured foods and white wine with white meat/white-colours foods, but wine also gives you the complexity and ‘fun factor’ to try and experiment with different combinations. There have been instances where a nice grenache has gone on well with a chicken dish, or a hearty pasta dish was washed down with an awesome chardonnay. The fact is don’t be afraid to challenge the rule of thumb and instead create your ideal combination.
What are some of your favourite drops and how did you compliment them? Feel free to tell us in the comments section below.
‘Till next time,