5 Questions You’re Too Scared to Ask a Wine Expert
If you don't know your Malbec from your Merlot then keep reading.
Ah wine. Wine, wine, wine. What would we do without you and your grapey goodness?
And yes, we know we have to be careful -- one a day and all that -- but with millennials and Gen Y’s making up 25% of the wine market and those numbers growing, it seems we're all partial to a drop. However... do you know what you're drinking? Can you hold your own in the Bottle-o? What about in a restaurant... Fear can easily overtake the less confident among us when a sommelier* walks up to us as we're perusing the menu.
*a trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specialises in all facets of beverage service, for those who don't know.
But while it can be easiest (and less embarrassing) to just pick the second cheapest bottle on the menu, wine expert and author of Everything Happens for a Riesling, Grace De Morgan says you shouldn't be afraid of asking your sommelier anything -- they're here to help.
Apparently, they like it.
However, if you are still terrified they'll laugh when you can't pronounce Gamay (it's, well, gamay) we've asked her the questions so you don't have to... cheers!
Is the cheapest wine on the menu the worst? And should you really pick the second cheapest?
"Mmm, not necessarily. You can get an awesome Semillon at the bottle-o for $12-$16. Price isn't always indicative of quality," Grace told 10 daily.
"In regards to choosing the second cheapest bottle, it's not my fave advice. Anecdotally, I've heard some restaurants make the wine they want to get rid of the second cheapest because they know that people have a tendency to do this. Instead, be bold and ask your sommelier for advice (and don't be afraid to name your price range). They're there to help."
How can you tell if a wine is off?
"Whether your wine is corked or oxidised, you'll be able to tell by the smell," Grace assured us. "Corked wine (from cork taint) smells like wet dog or rotten cardboard. While oxidised wine (from oxygen exposure) smells stale or like stewed fruit. Either way, neither are a recipe for a good time."
What is a good thing to say if you want to look knowledgeable when it comes to white wine..?
"Look, I wouldn't usually advocate pretending to know more than you do," laughed Grace. "HOWEVER, if some rando at a posh event is trying to make you feel basic, put them in their place with a reference to acidity. Something like, "Great acidity. Very bright." Translation: "Ooft, that white wine has noticeable acidity and intensity. I'm into it."
If you're trying to fake it till you make it with red wine, talk about its texture. That is, how it feels in your mouth. Think: velvety, chewy, silky or even opulent (if it's a rich, full-bodied vino)."
What rules should we follow when ordering wine?
"Boo to rules! Be curious. Try a varietal you've never heard of before. Don't be afraid to ask dumb questions. If you don't know what a tannin is, just ask. THAT IS A-OK. Let your sommelier show off their knowledge. And have fun, damn it!"
That's advice we can get right behind. Bottoms up! (and always drink responsibly, of course).
Everything Happens For A Riesling is out now, RRP $29.99.