Perhaps you didn’t raised in a household with parents that drank. Maybe you decided to avoid alcohol for religious or health reasons. You may have avoided crazy parties in high school, or chose to be the responsible one so you could be the appointed driver for your friends. For whatever reason, if any of these details sound like you, you probably don’t know much about wine (unless you’ve been around it a lot because of friends). Getting to know some basics can be helpful for many reasons, from entertaining to knowing how to gauge when you need to stop if you’re planning on drinking at a party and don’t want to become sloshed. Here are some initial Q&A’s we hope will be beneficial to you.
How much wine should I have on hand if I’m having friends over for dinner?
Even if you don’t drink, you might have folks coming for dinner and need to have enough alcohol on hand for your guests (along with the appropriate stemware). Vinepair.com has a handy tool for calculating how much you should buy to make sure you’ve got things covered. Check out their calculator here: www.vinepair.com/dinner-party-calculator. This tool will help you eliminate the guesswork and can ensure you won’t come up short.
Be mindful of the temperature!
Wine is a bit of a finicky, sensitive beverage (#truth). And, here’s the thing: different wines taste better at varying temperatures. Knowing this will allow you to do your homework ahead of time to make sure you’ve got it at the appropriate temperature before opening the bottle for your dinner party. For a helpful reference guide, check out www.skybarhome.com/about-wine/wine-serving-temperatures/wine-serving-temperatures.html.
How much alcohol is too much?
It’s tough to give a general recommendation here, because that will vary from person to person, depending on body composition. When you begin to feel the effects of alcohol, stop then instead of continuing (if you want to avoid getting drunk).
Why do people smell and swirl their wine before drinking it?
Well, here’s the deal. Swirling the wine allows oxygen to infuse with the wine, and that process releases the wine’s distinct flavors, something that’s helpful before you consume it.
What wine to serve?
If you’re new to this whole world, you might think that all wines are made equal (if it’s alcohol, it’s alcohol, right?). Nope … that isn’t accurate. Sure, they all contain alcohol, but according to the sorts of grapes used, whether the wine was oaked or not, how much contact the grape juice had with the grape skins, and the various pairings of different grapes to generate a variety of flavors shows that you’ll end up with an array of outcomes– some wines that are more sturdy, and others that are lighter. Because of this, you’ll want to match the wine you serve with the kind of food you are having for dinner. Do a little research if you’re new to it and aren’t sure what types of wine go well with what you’re serving. Google “pairing wine with food” to find some amazing articles and tips for learning how to best put the two together.
Just like anything else, the more that you become accustomed to the world of wine and get to know yourself with various aspects of it, the less opaque it will seem. Soon you’ll be pulling every aspect of this off like it ain’t no thang. In the meantime, good luck as you tryout and get to know more about wine, its relationship to food, and the rich culture and long-standing tradition that it recalls.