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6 ways to better tasting wines

6 Ways For Best Tasting Wine: Serve an Emotional Experience

Red, White, Rosé

What is your favorite type of wine? And why? I bet your preferred wine isn’t just because it tastes good, it’s because it stirs up your emotions.

Wine: we sip with our mouth and nose, but we taste with our eyes and emotions.

The symphony of taste, flavor, aroma and emotion: serving up a story with wine

What makes sipping, sharing and savoring a simple glass of wine a base for a memory? Is it the taste and aroma of the wine? Or more likely it is the process of drinking wine, chosing a bottle, opening it, pouring it and sharing in that makes wine emotional.

One of my professors, Mr. Frédéric Brochet, explained the art of tasting wine as an emotional experience thru his research on wine. He had 57 wine experts rate white wines that were colored with red food dye. All 57 experts rated the white wine with adjectives usually reserved for red wines, jamminess and crushed red fruit, and no wine expert could tell that the red wine was actually white. The brain plays tricks on us, based only on color of the wine! Mr. Brochet’s further research was on the influence of wine labels on perception of taste. He took a middle class wine and served it from two bottles, one bottle with labels from the cheapest wine in France, vin de table and the same wine served from bottles reserved for a well known grand cru, the highest class of wine. The experts judged the same wine differently, based on whether the expert thought the wine was cheap or expensive. Here is the full article on Frédéric Brochet.

Whatever your budget is, drinking wine is a privilege. Here are six easy ways to improve the taste and experience of drinking wine, and how to make every wine moment a memory and an emotional story. These tips are really worth the effort when serving cheaper wines, because you bring most out of what you are pouring.

Six Ways For Better Tasting Wine

#1 The glass

You can buy different shaped wine glasses for white, red, rosé, dessert wine, and each varieties of these wines, but what you really need are six to twelve basic good quality glasses that you can use everyday. You could have 6 red and 6 white or just 12 basic glasses to serve both in. My favorite wine glasses are larger bowls on top that hold a bit more wine, because as you will see with #3, not overfilling a glass with wine is important for taste and aeration of the wine. A bigger top (20 ounces or more) allows you to swirl and swish a large quantity of color around and smell that beautiful aroma of grapes escaping.

Some other factors on the finding the right everyday wineglass:

  • Clear and thin glass
  • Long stem to hold the glass elegantly
  • Not expensive so you can use them everyday
  • Curved at the top of the glass in order to ‘trap’ the aroma close to your nose.

I think the right glass brings out the emotion when drinking wine. The right glass highlights all the good aspects on the wine, and builds the right atmosphere for sharing a good time. And the everyday aspect of these wine glasses means that you have these glasses ready to be filled.

#2 The temperature of the wine

Serving wine at the correct temperature is the second way to bring out the flavor in the wine. We have a basic wine thermometer (see picture below) at home to measure the temperature of the bottle before it is opened. It is a bit basic, but works. I already know the serving temperature of our favorite preferred wines, but having something easy to place around the bottle will help with other wines you are not familiar with. The wrong temperature of the wine draws attention to the wine itself, rather than allowing the wine to be a complement for the moment -whether you are dining with wine or just having a glass on its own. And one of the biggest errors is serving white wine too chilled, and that is where the handy wine thermometer checks the temperature!

#3 The right portion in the right glass

The key for good wine breathing is to not overfill the wine in the glass. Wine should never be poured more than halfway in the glass and that is why at a restaurant with experience serving wine, you will be served wine only halfway full (the restaurant is not trying to cheat you on the wine, not overfilling a wine glass is how wine should be served. This is why I like my bigger bowl wine glasses, to serve more at each time and allow the wine to develop the flavors in the wine glass.

As you can see from this white wine, it was served at a third of the glass. My friend and I enjoyed a glass of wine at a wine bar in Pau. Not only did the server know every wine on the menu, but the glasses were clear, thin and adapted to each wine. I had a red Graves from Bordeaux region, my friend a demi-sec white from Jurançon area. Funky glasses, great atmosphere, delicious wine, great friend-wonderful evening!

#4 The food-wine pairing

Serving the right wine with the food you are eating is the fourth way to bring out both the taste in the food and the wine. Serving a few courses? Serve different wines to bring out the balance of each course. When in doubt I consult my book that outlines which foods with which wines, or I do a quick google search to find my answer. As an interesting trivia, one reason Italians serve their salads after a meal is because the vinegar in the vinaigrette salad dressing clashes with wine. And you don’t want to start a meal with a salad and wine and sour taste in the mouth!
For more food and wine pairings, here is must read article on eye candy article on wines and food pairings.

#5 Decant or not decant?

Decanting a wine does two things to the taste: it allows the wine to aerate before serving and it keeps the sediment in the bottle rather than escaping into the wine glasses, (sediment can leave a bitter taste in the wine if it is not removed). Decanting a cheaper wine will always help to bring out the flavors, so I consider decanting a must-do for when you are sharing a middle line bottle with dinner guests or just drinking a bottle with friends. Older wines, especially red wines, contain sediment which decanting will eliminate from the glasses. There is an ‘art’ in decanting, check out The Wine Spectator’s rules and NY Magazine’ spin on decanting and make decanting your wines a habit.

#6 Atmosphere

Last but not least is the atmosphere around the wine and building a story and leaving a memory. If you enjoy drinking wines, I am sure you have a few treasured memories of drinking wine on a beach, or that bottle you drank on your trip to Italy, that wine served at a successful dinner party or many other links between wine and emotion. When I first started drinking wines, I could soak the labels off the bottles, and I still have a big collection of wine labels with dates and where I was drinking the wine. Looking at the labels floods back memories. Now I take pictures of the wine bottles that I loved drinking, it is the not the same, but these new wine labels don’t come off the bottles easily and few clicks on my smartphone I have a picture memory of a new wine tried.

I think the atmosphere when we drink wine is very important to the the memory attachments. It is so nice to enjoy a glass of wine in your favorite type of setting in the moment. Whether it is in front of a fire, with candles, at a café at a beach in front of the Mediterranean Sea; whatever atmosphere you are sharing your wine, make it an avenue to a future story. “Remember when?”

Tchin Tchin! Salute!

Have you reached the end and want to read more? Please tune in on the blog for more ways that you can move to ‘foodie happiness’ with the simple pleasures of a meal or drink, prepared or served with flavor, taste and presentation at the forefront. Simple dishes, simple ideas, simple tricks to bring taste and appreciation.

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Warmly, Mary

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4 Responses to 6 Ways For Best Tasting Wine: Serve an Emotional Experience

  1. Ryan Z November 3, 2016 at 10:29 #

    All great tips. Thanks for sharing. You’ve motivated me to go out and invest in some larger wine glasses. The ones I have at home are quite small, and I think limit the experience.
    Ryan Z recently posted..AKDY 28-Bottle Single-Zone Freestanding Wine Cooler Review

  2. Deanna R. Jones September 10, 2015 at 20:10 #

    I thought that you made a really interesting point about how having the right portion of wine in the right glass can make a huge difference when drinking wine. It’s really interesting that it’s best to pour it only up to half way up the glass for proper wine breathing. That would explain why you usually only see people’s glasses filled only up to half way or less in TV and movies when you see people dining out. I can imagine that must be why I usually taste something entirely different when I pour my own wine. Now that I know to keep my glass filled only half way, I’ll be able to have a much better tasting experience.

  3. Alex Jennings May 13, 2015 at 15:00 #

    Hi, Mary! Congratulations on your achievements and progress toward your degree in gastronomy and fine dining! My wife has always loved tasting wine, but I’ve never been good at it. I’ll try out some of your tips. What’s your favorite wine? Good luck with your studies!

    Tchin Tchin! Salute!

    Alex Jennings |

    • mbrighton May 13, 2015 at 15:20 #

      Hi Alex ! Merci —Grazie! Appreciate your support and comment. My favorite wine? Hard question-there are many good choices. I will take the ‘easy’ route out and pick -sparkling wine- CHAMPAGNE. Ciao! Bella Giornata!

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