47 Quick Nuggets to Outsmart Wine

  1. Order Pinot Noir to please a table.
  2. Acidity in wine refreshes food and your appetite like a lemon squirt.
  3. Australian Shiraz is the most instantly likable red under $15. Côtes-du-Rhône is a close second.
  4. Drink wine in thin, roomy, inexpensive glasses.
  5. A “waiter’s friend” is the only wine corkscrew you need.
  6. Judge a wine shop by whether it has homemade shelf signs.
  7. To extend the life of opened wine, refrigerate it (even the reds).
  8. Tasting a wine in restaurants is only done to see if the wine has spoiled – not to judge how much you like it.
  9. In your home, designate a “house white,” “house red,” and “house bubbly” – and call them that.
  10. Stock bubbly like soda – and drink it throughout dinner.
  11. Don’t sniff the cork.
  12. To overcome “Riesling Resistance,” visualize lemonade before drinking it.
  13. Drink a slightly sweet wine like Riesling with spicy food.
  14. Pick up a bottle of French “Tavel” to introduce yourself to the summery pleasures of dry rosé.
  15. Visit wineries that require a reservation – and buy something during your visit.
  16. Any wine shop stocking Beaujolais Nouveau in July works for the forces of darkness.
  17. When you BYOB, call ahead and give your server a taste.
  18. Finish a heavy meal with feathery-light Moscato D’Asti.
  19. White wine with cheese is better than you think.
  20. To “supersize” your generosity, give a magnum as a gift.
  21. The best introduction to “serious” red Burgundy is Volnay.
  22. A wine’s price is often inversely proportional to how easy it is to pronounce.
  23. A wine’s price by-the-glass can tell you how much that restaurant paid wholesale for the bottle.
  24. Cheese and substantial meats can diminish your perception of bitter tannin in wine.
  25. Big spenders who love rich, buttery Chardonnay should try Meursault from Burgundy.
  26. To store wines for the short-term, all you need to do is avoid big temperature changes and extreme heat.
  27. Don’t store unopened wine in the refrigerator for more than a week.
  28. Host a Beaujolais Nouveau party in late November.
  29. When giving wine as a gift, attach an explanatory note and a “consume by” expiration date.
  30. The “second labels” of top producers can offer similar quality at a fraction of the price.
  31. Order Bonny Doon’s Vin de Glacière for the perfect meal closer in restaurants.
  32. Often dessert wine is best as dessert, not with dessert.
  33. If your table plans to drink three or more glasses of wine, it’s less expensive to order a bottle.
  34. Moderately-priced Malbec will rescue you from steakhouse sticker-shock.
  35. Less than 2% of wine gets better with age – drink your stash now…
  36. …But, if a wine is red, expensive, and made from a tannic grape, it can’t hurt to age it at least a few years.
  37. The best introduction to “serious Port” is a 10- or 20-year old Tawny Port.
  38. If you’re feeling frisky, smell – but don’t taste – the wine when the waiter presents it. (Your sense of smell is all you need to detect a dud).
  39. “Adopt a winery” and follow it throughout the years.
  40. Drink your reds a bit cooler than usual – it will focus the flavors.
  41. Virtually all white Burgundy is Chardonnay.
  42. Virtually all red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.
  43. Distinguish different Champagnes by their weight and their bubbles.
  44. The most common reason to send a wine back is when it has a mildewy smell.
  45. Chocolate can overpower many wines – but flatters Port and Banyuls.
  46. Shake your dependency on snobbish, overpriced, or indifferent wine stores.
  47. To ferret out the gems on a wine list, ask your server what the chef drinks when he or she is off-duty.

From Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine