reprinted with permission from Wine Folly
Sooner or later in your wine journey, you’re going to come across, shall we say, certain people: certain people who say certain things. They may be going for refined, but we both know they’re coming off as something else. Let them say their piece, pity them quietly, and be content in taking the high road.
1. “I only drink...”
There’s no way this sentence ever ends well. The world of wine is so big! There are over 1,400 identified grape varieties and thousands of unique wine regions. Why anyone would limit themselves to just a tiny fraction of it, simply doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s no big thing, though. They could be in a wine phase and not even know it!
2. “Actually, it’s pronounced...”
Pronouncing Alicante Bouschet, Gewürztraminer, and Txakoli (or Txakolina) without breaking a sweat is pretty cool. But you know what’s even cooler? Not giving people a hard time if they pronounce it wrong! (Lord knows we didn’t do it right on our first try.)
3. “Sweet wines? What are you, five?”
We’re adults. And, adults can enjoy wines like Port, Sauternes, and Tokaji Aszú—sweet wines that rank among the most complex and revered wines on this planet! Yes, the wines that get most people into the world of wine in the first place tend to be sweet, so we see where that “beginners only” mentality comes from. Funny how that changes the further you get in your wine journey, however.
4. “Ew, screw cap wines. Pass!”
The wines of Australia and New Zealand are almost exclusively stoppered with screw caps. Take it from us, they are producing some dynamite stuff. Plus, screw caps have shown to age wines just fine (in fact, you don’t even have to store the bottle on it’s side). Why would someone let a flimsy, unfounded closure preference prevent them from tasting great wines? Tsk tsk.
5. “Pssh. White wines aren’t meant for aging.”
Sure, most white wines aren’t meant for long storage (but neither are most red wines for that matter!). However, when you get to top-tier Champagne, White Bordeaux, White Burgundy, White Rioja, Italian Soave, and German Riesling, you’ll discover they develop some surprisingly rich and luscious flavors with a little bit of age.
6. “I’m not drinking any $#&@ing Merlot!”
OK. Even now, this is still a very funny scene and quote. But what isn’t funny is dismissing some of the world’s greatest and most acclaimed wines for no good reason. Also, if this is said in reference to Sideways, the ironic inside secret was that Miles lusted after a bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, which is a Merlot blend from Saint-Émilion. See? Even Miles loves Merlot! Also, if you’re still saying this, you should definitely watch some newer movies about wine. Some of them have been pretty great. Just sayin’...
7. “Champagne isn’t Champagne unless it’s from the region.”
While it’s true that Champagne can only come from Champagne, it’s been the universal word for sparkling wine for beginners for a long time. So instead of clobbering your compatriots with knowledge bombs, let them taste first and learn later. The sparkling wine might actually help smooth things over. They’ll get there, and we can all help.
8. “You never, ever pair red wine with fish.”
We believe we speak for Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Beaujolais when we say, “Excuse moi?”
9. “How do you know it tastes like ______?”
Have you ever eaten a baseball glove? Doubt it. A signature note of aged Tempranillo, and one that’s echoed by wine experts worldwide, is leather. Do these wine experts sit around gnawing on baseball gloves and the sides of couches? We doubt it. (But you never know.)
We often encourage people to taste not only wine, but any number of things, be it vegetables, animals, and minerals, to expand their palate. But there’s no denying it: smell has a gigantic impact on taste. For the things we haven’t yet tasted, we’ll naturally try to relate them the best we can. That relation typically comes in the form of smell.
10. “You’re not getting all that acid/tannin? Ugh, it’s so obvious.”
Oof, bad form. Detecting primary flavors is hard enough. Learning how to detect and describe acid and tannin is whole new ball game. What do productive members of wine society do? That’s right, emulate your grandma. If someone is looking adrift or openly lost, gently educate, rather than flagellate.
11. “There’s only one kind of wine: red.”
Sing the praises of bold red wines all you want. We’ll join along. Right after we sing the praises for Viognier, Assyrtiko, and Albariño. All are great; all in different ways.
12. “This wine tastes like morning mist, rolling down the hillsides, transforming into dewdrops on the grass...”
Not a half-bad tasting note, but let’s pump the brakes. We’re talking about wine, not writing the sequel to The Leaves of Grass! Now, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to taste, and it’s important to remember feelings and sensations when drinking. But, it’s also equally important to put wine experiences into something that can be quantified—real tastes, real flavors. Wine is still a product, and each has a specific flavor that can be (more or less) defined.