Beginner's Guide to Wine Appreciation
1. "Room Temperature" Does Not Mean "Warm"
Somewhere in the 65 degrees range is as hot as any wine should get. Think about it—"room temperature" in a stone lodge in Italy is a lot cooler than a sweltering wine bar in mid-summer. And while we're on the topic of temperature, the chemistry and taste of wine changes if it is rapidly cooled. So rather than throwing a bottle of white wine in the freezer to chill it, leave it in the fridge overnight and then take it out an hour before drinking to let it warm up slowly. You'll be amazed at how much richer the same bottle can taste.
2. Know the Alcohol Content
Some wines are "cheap and cheerful," meaning they're made to be enjoyed quickly because they have lower alcohol content, like a Rosé or a Riesling, each with approximately 9 percent alcohol. Others—like Tannat, at 15 percent alcohol—should be sipped and savored if you don't want to end up under the table.
3. Learn How to Pair Wine with Food
Heavier, full-bodied wines like Bordeaux have lots of tannins, which can make them taste bitter but are also great for cutting full-flavored foods that are spicy, peppery or fatty. That's why robust reds go so well with a steak au poivre. Lighter, crisper, cooler wines like Verdicchio or Riesling are great for spicy foods because they ameliorate the heat.
4. The Cellar Isn't for Every Wine
Not all wines improve with age, so be sure to ask before you buy. Use your local wine salesman as a resource: Describe wines you've loved in the past, or bring in labels, and he or she likely will point you toward something similarly delicious.
5. Pour with Confidence
The perfect pour is at the widest point in the glass where the wine has the most surface area in contact with oxygen. Wines like to breathe, and they take on a new taste and complexity once they've had some time to interact with the air.
What drinks do you like in the summer? Share your favorites in the comments section.
Daphne Oz is the author of the national best-seller The Dorm Room Diet—which will be expanded and republished in July 2010—and The Dorm Room Diet Planner and creator of the Dorm Room Diet Workout DVD.
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