Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just enjoying a bottle with friends, there are a few things that nearly every wine drinker does wrong. (Whoops. Guilty.) Avoid these eight faux pas to make your next bottle of vino even more enjoyable.
You Avoid White Wine in the Winter
It’s easy to associate white wine with hot, sunny days. But just like your white pants, there's no reason to ditch the white wine after Labor Day. Opt instead for full-bodied, rich winter whites, like an oaky Chardonnay, a rich Pinot Gris or a bold Gewürztraminer. These wines will hold up next to the hearty comfort foods you crave during the winter.
You Don’t Buy Screw Tops
There was a time when a screw top signaled a cheap bottle. These days, more winemakers are turning away from traditional corks in favor of screw bottles. Stick to this rule: For many simple whites and red wines meant to be opened young, explore screw-top bottles. If you're buying a more complex wine (i.e., a 2005 Bordeaux made for aging), stick to corks.
You Aren’t Adventurous
Just like your taste in clothing and food, it’s important to know what you like when it comes to wine. But once you have an idea of your taste, it’s time to branch out and experiment with new wines. For example, if you know you like Pinot Noir from Oregon, try a similar wine like Gamay, Sangiovese or Mencía. These wines are far more affordable and similar in body, acidity and food-friendliness.
You’re Holding the Glass Wrong
At the risk of sounding snobby, there actually is a correct way to hold your wine glass. Instead of wrapping your hand around the bowl of the glass, grip the base of the stem between your thumb and pointer finger. Why? Without the heat from your hand touching the bowl, the wine stays cooler for longer.
You Don’t Ask for Help When Ordering
Let’s face it: Looking at a multi-page wine list at a new restaurant is intimidating. Ask your waiter if he has a recommendation, or if the restaurant has a sommelier, ask for his help. Tell him what kinds of wine you like and your target price range, and he’ll help you narrow down some wines that could be a good fit.
You Drink Red with Meat and White with Fish
It's a great starting point, but there are plenty of times it's totally OK to stray from this rule. When it comes to fish, think about the preparation. For example, meatier fishes with bold flavors like tuna tartare or smoked salmon will pair fabulously with a light red. And there are plenty of full white wines that can stand up to meat dishes, especially pork and chicken. You could even pair a steak with a white Burgundy or dry, aged Riesling.
You’re Serving it at the Wrong Temperature
Ideally, red wine should be served just below room temperature (62 to 68 degrees) and white wine should be served chilled (49 to 55 degrees), but it’s easy to serve a red too warm or a white too cold. If you’re pulling red wine from a fridge or cellar, it might have to sit out for half an hour or so to warm up. And don’t throw a white wine in a cold fridge all day or it might dull the flavors. Pop it in for a couple of hours, then remove it when you're ready to serve.
You Aren’t Letting It Breathe
Any red wine (even a young bottle) will benefit from a short period of aeration, which softens the tannins and brings out the flavor. If you don’t have a decanter, uncorking your wine and letting it sit should do the trick. Older bottles also produce sediment as they age, so you’ll want to decant for 30 minutes to two hours in order to separate the good stuff from the sediment before you drink it.