There are no rules to wine… let’s put it that way. Do you smack loudly or make ridiculous faces when drinking water? Do you talk about the “finish” of a good beer? Of course not!
Keep this in mind: what you should stick to is to drink what you enjoy, whether it be a five dollar bottle of Riunite or a one hundred dollar bottle of Dom Perignon. Don’t force yourself to drink a dry red or white when you are really itching for something sweeter. Don’t pretend to enjoy that twenty dollar bottle of “Riserva” from an obscure winery in Argentina just because the so-called “experts” rated it a “best buy” or somebody stuffy said that it had a “complex bouquet.”
There are guidelines that you might want to stick to to get the most out of wine, but they are not rules; you don’t have to follow them to drink wine. The wine police will not arrest you for not checking out the “legs” of the wine, nor will they cart you away for not sniffing the wine before sipping. You would, however, have a better experience if you DID, but you don’t have to!
So, on to the guidelines. I am sure that I will catch some flack from wine snobs or those who like to use wine as something as a weapon to make others feel inferior.
Remember that these are not rules, but you might get a little more out of your bottle of wine.
First off, after you pour your glass of wine, take a look at it up in the light. Is it clear? Murky? What color red or white is it? Then, gently swirl the wine in the glass, tilt it, and look at the drips coming down the side of the glass. These are the “legs” of the wine, and they tell you how thick or “bodied” the wine is. If the legs are thick and well-defined, the wine is “full-bodied.” If they are thin and look more like actual drips, then the wine is “light-bodied.” Anything in between is “medium-bodied.”
Next, take a whiff of the wine. What do you smell? Most people say, “I smell wine,” but try to get past the wine smell. You might catch a scent of vanilla or something spicy, and this is all part of the fun of drinking wine. Don’t worry at first – if you don’t smell anything right away, just give it time. You’ll get there!
After smelling the wine, take a small sip. Some people like to “aerate” it by slurping, and it might enhance the flavor, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Just swish the wine around in your mouth so that all of the areas of your tongue sense all of the flavors and nuances. Swallow (or spit it out if you’re at a tasting), and breathe through your mouth again. Try to taste something other than the wine, and you might be pleasantly surprised. You might get a strong acid or “tannin” flavor. You might taste pears or peaches, even. I once drank a pinot noir that had leather and tobacco flavors, and it was wonderful!
Again, let me reiterate that YOU define your wine experience, not somebody from a magazine or a store. Drink what you enjoy, enjoy what you drink, and keep a list of wines you liked for future reference. Have fun!