Yes, it’s true. Wine can be intimidating. You are about to gain fluency in a new language of words, gestures, and flavors. You’ll be a novice at first, no doubt about it, but with this cheat sheet, you’ll move through phase one gracefully.
1. Arm yourself with Wine Wipes. This product, conveniently offered in a normal-looking wipes packet, will be your secret weapon to keep your smile bright after a round of red wine tastes. The packet has a neutral taste that will not bother you and will not make later wine sampling taste “off” or metallic as many toothpastes do. Ditch the toothbrush for later and use Wine Wipes to erase the pink-toothed evidence. Remember that whether you are rocking your favorite lipstick, dressed up or taking it super-casual in yoga pants and a sweater, wine-stained teeth are never a good look. In fact, this evidence of wine enjoyment evokes mockery for both women and men, so keep a few extra packets on hand for any companion who could use them.
2. Before you sip, if your glass has not been overfilled you should be able to swirl the glass gently. This helps oxygenate the wine, a process referred to as letting the wine breathe. Perhaps the wine has already been allowed to breathe? Don’t worry, swirling won’t hurt. People do it reflexively without thinking.
3. Enjoy the aroma before sipping. One reason wine drinkers sniff is that the cork could have been flawed, making the wine unpleasant. Don’t worry about that, but the bottom line is if the wine does not smell attractive you don’t have to taste it. The other reason is that enjoying the aroma of the wine before you sip offers a keener impression than smelling it after tasting. You will not see many people sniff again after that first moment. A little smile as you exhale is all the comment that’s required.
4. Sip and hold the wine in your mouth for a count of three or more. Gently let it flow to all parts of your mouth before swallowing. Notice flavors and enjoy the experience. This is where you can learn the most by talking with others who know wine. Each person tastes differently and when one person says, “my grandmother’s peach cobbler” another will be saying “stonefruit.”
5. What about spitting? If you will be tasting many wines at a winery, you may be offered the opportunity to spit out the wine after tasting it. You don’t have to finish a glass, either. Wine professionals spit so they can stay sharp while learning and tasting even if they plan to indulge less formally later. Consider spitting optional.
Keep tabs on your consumption and on the state your smile is in, and nobody will know that you used a crib sheet before wine tasting, or Wine Wipes afterwards. Remember, we’re here for you in all your wine explorations.