ModernHostess: Wining and Dining (Dining Optional)
Do I swirl my wine around in my glass before drinking it? Definitely. Do I gradually bring the glass to my nose to sniff it before taking a slow, leisurely sip that I will let sit in my mouth for a few moments? Absolutely. Does that make me a hoity-toity wine snob?? I don’t think so!
Let me take a moment to explain why I engage in these controversial behaviors prior to enjoying my wine. I was fortunate enough to attend a wine-tasting seminar earlier this year, and I will admit that prior to this event, I too thought that anyone who did anything with their wine other than drink it (or use it for cooking) looked like a fool. However, I learned that there is actually a reason for the swirling, sniffing and lingering. I will explain each in turn:
Swirling: Swirling allows you to observe the legs or tears of the wine running down the sides of the glass, which will give you an indication of the wine’s alcohol content. The longer it takes for the legs drip back into the wine, the higher the alcohol content of the wine. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot determine the quality of the wine from the legs.
Sniffing: Sniffing enables you to get a better sense of the flavours in the wine than just tasting it, as your nose is actually a much more discerning flavour-detector than your taste buds! Plus, taking a whiff of the wine will let you know whether the wine has gone bad… and really, who wants to drink wine that has gone bad?? Take a sniff of your wine… what do you smell? With whites, expect citrus fruit or floral or grassy smells. Reds typically include more earthy notes of berries and oak.
Lingering: Leaving the wine in your mouth for a few moments without swallowing it will allow you to get a better sense of its taste. Some people like to swish it around in their mouths to really taste it. I am personally not a fan because it reminds me too much of gargling with mouth wash, but go ahead and try it if you really want to seem like a wine connoisseur.
What’s your favourite type of wine? I tend to gravitate towards Italian or French wines, and I prefer a fruity taste that’s not too sweet. Examples: Pinot Grigio or Reisling (those from France tend to be less sweet than German varieties) for whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti (also known as Sangiovese), or Beaujolais for reds. Experiment with different wines to learn what flavours you like. And remember, if you’re not enjoying your glass of wine, there is probably another type out there that you will love. For a quick reference on which wines to choose with which foods, see my guide below. Enjoy!!
A Mini Guide to Wine-Pairing
Matches with white wine:
- Chicken/turkey/pork (white meats)
- Pasta with lighter sauces (eg. pesto)
Matches with lighter red wines (eg. Pinot Noir, Gamay [eg. Beaujolais]):
- Lamb, veal, dark meat chicken/turkey
- Darker fish (eg. salmon, tuna, arctic char)
Matches with dark red wines (eg. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon):
- Red meats
- Pasta with red sauce (eg. marinara)