Watch me whip, watch me Chard-da-nae-nae
As anyone who knows me is already well aware of, one of my favorite weekend activities is to check out local wine tasting events. I mean wine + food samples = duhhhh. However, if I’m being totally honest, I really can’t taste the difference between $10 and $100 bottles of wine. I love tasting different wines and experimenting with new types/flavors, but sometimes you have to just “fake it till you make it.” While I have never really claimed to be an expert in this department, I often have fun “pretending” like I actually know what the heck I’m talking about. It can actually be pretty fun to act like a wine connoisseur for the night, and some people will be pretty dang impressed because they likely have no clue what they’re talking about either. So, here’s a short & sweet guide for how to pretend like you’re a total wine-snob-badass…
1 / Use your words
Ah… the power of adjectives. Here are some fun words you can toss around to take your wine convo to a whole new level of BS…
- Intellectually satisfying (personal fav… I mean, c’mon)
- Hint of… [insert whatever fruit/flower/aroma your heart desires]
- Crisp (or better yet… crisp, with a hint of apple)
In addition to these, make sure and throw in some “fruity” and “floral” words such as “a hint of… peach, rose, oak, persimmon, sage, apple, cinnamon, rosemary, pine, chocolate, citrus, etc…” You get the picture.
2 / SWIRL – SMELL – SIP
As a basic rule, stick to these three simple steps to look like a pro.
- Give your glass a nice little SWIRL to help aerate the wine, which produces a nice little oxidizing effect that enhances the wine’s flavor and natural aroma.
- To get a good impression of your wine’s aroma, take a sniff after you swirl it and SMELL the flavors it contains. The wine’s aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality and unique characteristics. To look like a total pro, take an initial whiff and then for your second go-round stick your nose way down into the glass and inhale deeply. Winning.
- Now you finallyyy get to take a SIP. Don’t get too excited and take a gulp, because you want to make sure you have room to swish it around and let the flavors roll around on your tongue. Slurping is even better, because it will continue to oxidize the liquid, allowing you to taste the flavors more fully. Pay attention to the “finish,” which is how long the flavor lasts after it is swallowed. Was it light-bodied (aka watery), or more full-bodied (thicker, richer)?
3 / A match made in heaven
The art of pairing wine with food is so complex and intricate that you should really be able to get a degree in it… I’m not even kidding. So, here’s a nice little “go-to” guide when it comes to basic pairing options…
RED –> Because red wines typically have a more robust flavor and are served at room temp, they pair well with food that is also robust (think red meats, hearty pasta dishes, etc.)
WHITE –> White wines are usually served cold, and because of the “lighter” flavor they pair well with foods such as poultry, fish, salads, etc.
CHAMPAGNE –> Sparkling wines, such as Champagne, are super fancy so they really don’t even need the accompaniment of food because they are INDEPENDENT AF. Bam.
ROSÉ –> Typically enjoyed on warm summer nights, rosé wines are the perfect accompaniment for super light meals consisting of foods such as fresh seafood, fruity salads (or dishes such as melon with prosciutto), and appetizers such as bruschetta, cheese plates, and olives (holy yum).
DESSERT –> Dessert wines are obviously meant to be paired with dessert, but don’t be afraid to break away from the status quo and pair it with a fabulous appetizer or something. Because even dessert wines don’t shouldn’t be held back by societally assigned labels.
4 / To stem or not to stem…
Seriously, people… what is a wine glass without a stem? I know those fancy “stemless” wine glasses are a thing, but WHY? If you have the opportunity to choose a stemmed glass or a stemless one, please do yourself a favor and pick the stemmed glass. Not only is it fancier and classy AF, but it ensures that your hands won’t warm up the wine and mess with its temperature. Unless your hands are always freezing like mine… then I suppose it wouldn’t hurt too much.
5 / Ask away
Probably the most important part of pretending to be a wine snob is to ask a ton of questions. Ask what the recommendations are for pairing, what their favorite wines are, where they get their wine from, etc. Here are some of my total-wine-snob favs:
- How many vineyards are the grapes sourced from?
- What is the area like where the grapes were grown?
- What kind of soil? (Is it organic? Or was it fertilized by PESTICIDES?)
- How many bottles are produced each year?
- What is in here that gives the wine it’s _____ color and/or ______ taste?
- What type of barrel was this wine aged in? (Oak? Pine?)
- What year is this? (2007 you say? Hmm I usually never drink anything later than 2005…)
Note: This is by no means a fool-proof guide. Sometimes your cover will be totally blown by someone (who actually knows their ish) asking you how you decant your wine. Or wondering why you’re not using the spittoon (just, why). What can I say, karma’s a bitch.