5 Don’ts When Picking the Right Red Wine – A Beginner’s Guide

5 Don’ts When Picking the Right Red Wine – A Beginner’s Guide

Wine is a complex cosmo for our taste buds. Funnily, it can help you overcome just as complex problems in life. Broke up with Mr/Ms Y? Landlord is lord up-ing the rent despite your cute face? Stuck in a 9 to 5 rut? For everything that’s ever so byzantine, there’s an (overflowing) glass of red wine. Wait! Did I just write byzantine? That must be the wine talking. Two glasses down and you too will rediscover all the fancy words buried somewhere deep inside.

Or maybe there is something else that brings you to this page – you want to be seen as a more ‘social’ person, you’ve read about its health benefits, or that you really wonder what wine lovers really mean when they say words like ‘tannins’, ‘oaky’, ‘full bodied’, and ‘toasty’. 

Whatever your reason, good that you decided to hop on to the red wine beginner bandwagon. Just with a little bit of guidance you will be soon on your way to becoming a connoisseur. As of now, I am at level *enthusiast*. But arriving there, at your *aha* moment with wine, could take you two bottles or twenty. I could help you get there with two. If, and only if, you carefully follow the simple tips I’ve shared in here.

Don’t ask the experts for advice

Experts talk very little. Or, not at all. Worse, they speak in jargon. It’s not fun at all to talk to a wine expert about wine. On the contrary, it may turn out to be an overwhelming experience where you are bombarded with vocabulary. Thank your stars if the expert sticks to the point and says ‘Try it. Good wine.’ Thereafter, you are on your own with your fate (and a glass) in your hands.

Don’t start out with Rose

The biggest mistake that you could ever commit when just starting out your red wine expedition is confusing a rose’ for a red. Confession – I did commit this blunder. I was naive and thought it might be a subtler version. But now that I am wiser I won’t let you falter. Rose wine, though made out of red grapes, is processed like white wine. It only gets to borrow a hint of red (only to the point its pink) from red grapes. It can never get you up, close, and personal with the body, tannins, and taste of a great red wine.

Don’t just drink it

Drinking is to tasting just like hearing is to listening. You aren’t really involved in a conversation when you are just hearing it. Unlike when you wish to understand and participate. Then, you listen. You could drink two bottles of wine straight up and know nothing about it. On the contrary, if you properly taste even two sips of a wine it could tell you so much. Start ‘tasting’ wine rather than trying to get high drinking it. It’s a sensory experience far beyond any intoxication in the world. Of course, you can’t always be tasting wine. There are times when you need to drink with buddies and get a kick out of it. But as a beginner, do try and make time for solitary wine tasting sessions. Sit back and submerge in its feel. You feel the long legs? Velvety in every sip? Tannins haven’t matured yet and the wine needs to be left alone for say an hour? You’ll find yourself understanding these facets only when you learn the art and patience of ‘tasting’ wine.

Don’t rely too much on labels and descriptions

When looking for a wine that suits your taste, stick to some basic descriptions. It would be enough to know whether it is citrus or oaky, and what are the dominant flavors. Beyond that, don’t base your judgement on tons of reviews. Wine is subjective. And, you’d be surprised to know that the same wine can taste different to different people. Amusing? Well, no two people have the same sense of smell and taste. Moreover, some people can detect sulfites in foods and drinks sooner than others. That’s why no wine will ever taste the same to two people. Even more surprising is the fact that the same wine, say Carlo Rossi California Red might be your favorite when you are twenty-five years of age. By the time you are forty years old you might not find it endearing at all. Your taste buds would have changed. And, so, your preference for the wine.

Don’t pour it directly in a glass (if you have that choice)

If possible, pour wine in a decanter first. Most wines don’t ‘open up’ as soon as they are opened. Pouring them in a decanter lets the wine breathe. The hidden fruits and aromas start building up slowly as the wine breathes some air. If you don’t have a decanter or are trying tasting wine at a restaurant let the wine sit in your glass after being poured. Slowly swirl it. Now, don’t gulp a mouth full. Take a small sip, preferrably by slurping it. Avoid those nasty looks from the crowd that’s judging you like you for wine snobbery. Carry on with your business. It’s your wine, you gotta treat it right!

As they say, half of being wise is knowing what’s foolish. Now that you know exactly what you shouldn’t be doing it is a good point to start learning by doing drinking tasting. Have fun. Carpe Vinum!

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