Let me just start by saying that I’m a wine snob.
Not just like a wino, like a legit wine snob.
I will judge you for how you interact with wine…
How you drink it, what type of wine you choose and your standards for your wine drinking experience.
Since I’m all about staying out of judgment, I decided that I’d take this as an opportunity to help teach people about wine and the mistakes that they don’t know that they’re making so that I can stop disowning people for not knowing any better (just kidding).
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I do appreciate people who appreciate wine.
In fact, one of my girlfriends always says whoever I date next, she’s going to give him a wine test and if he can’t pass it, I’ll have to pass on him.
She’s probably right.
So without further ado, let’s get into the mistakes and how to fix them:
Amateur Mistake #1
Drinking Wine At The Wrong Temperature
Do not hold your wine glass by the bowl.
Do not hold your wine glass by the bowl.
Do not hold your wine glass by the bowl.
Do not hold your wine glass by the bowl.
I repeat… Do not hold your wine glass by the bowl.
If you’re one of the bowl-holders, you’re probably like “who cares”, but here’s why you should care:
First of all, if you were supposed to hold the wine glass by the bowl, it would just be a regular glass, not a wine glass.
Wine is supposed to be served between 65-68 degrees… When you’re holding it by the bowl, your hands warm the wine and you start to taste the alcohol in the wine rather than the actual flavors of the wine.
It’s sort of like taking warm tequila shots… It just doesn’t go down as smooth as when it’s cold.
While red wine isn’t supposed to be cold, you’ll be able to appreciate the wine and the flavors in the wine when it’s served at the proper chilled temperature.
If you’ve drank red wine before and complained that it was too bitter or dry, it’s probably because you’re drinking it warm.
Don’t just stick your wine in the fridge or freezer.
Wine is sensitive and changes based on it’s environment, so if you don’t have a wine cooler, take a bucket, fill it with ice and water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Amateur Mistake #2
Drinking Boxed and Cheap Wine
(And Then Complaining That Wine Gives You Headaches)
If you’re getting headaches while drinking wine, it’s likely either because you’re drinking cheap wine or because you’re not staying hydrated.
I think a lot of people forget that wine is still alcohol, and even though it’s easy drinking, you still need to drink enough water.
As for the cheapest wines, you probably like them because they’re sweet, right?
In the cheapest wines like Beringer, Cupcake, Sutter Home, Menage a Trois, etc, etc, etc, you like them because there’s sugar added to them.
Here’s the thing about adding sugar to wine…
Because wine is fermented, adding sugar gets it to ferment even more…
And if you let the fermentation process continue, it’ll go bad.
From what I understand, to stop the fermentation after adding sugar, the cheap wines add arsenic to them.
Arsenic is naturally occurring in soil so in moderation won’t hurt you, but when it’s used to manipulate the wines, that can cause issues.
There was even a class action lawsuit about arsenic in wine in 83 different brands of wine coming out of California. The lawsuit has since been dismissed but that doesn’t negate the fact that studies have shown that there was a higher level of arsenic in a lot of wines than the FDA allows in drinking water.
Are they legal levels of arsenic?
Is it enough to give you a headache?
The added sugar gives you your super sweet wine but your body isn’t supposed to have that much arsenic in it… Which is likely what ends up giving you the headaches.
Some people think it’s the sulfites in the wine and while that might contribute to it, almost every wine has sulfites that naturally occur in them.
Do we know about the correlation between arsenic, sulfites, wine and headaches?
You know your body better than anyone, so try it out for yourself.
Next time you’re drinking wine, make sure it’s a decent bottle of wine (not the cheap stuff) and stay hydrated.
So repeat after me…
“I, ___, will not drink cheap or boxed wine anymore because I like living.”
By the way, by cheap wine I mean bottom shelf wine that’s usually $10 or less.
Amateur Mistake #3
Saying You Don’t Like Red Wine Because It’s “Bitter”
Enjoying wine is like finding a brand of clothes that you’re in love with.
Enjoying wine is like finding a brand of clothes that you’re in love with. Click To Tweet
There are a LOT of brands of clothing that won’t fit you right, but when you find “the one”, it’s like they made it JUST for you.
Just because you tried and didn’t like one or two red wines, doesn’t mean you don’t like red wine…
You just haven’t found the red wine that you love.
Don’t give me that bs about wine being an acquired taste… There are THOUSANDS of wines and there will be at least a few that you love, without having to let them grown you.
If you haven’t found a red wine that you like yet because they’re too bitter (dry or too high in tannins), start with a lighter, sweeter red.
The dryer the wine, the higher the tannins (tannins are the things that make the wine seem bitter), but tannins are what releases the fruit of the wine over time and allows the wine to age so well.
Here’s an awesome infographic that will help you visualize the dryness of the various wines.
If you don’t like bold, dry wines, go for a pinot noir (which isn’t listed here but will usually give you the lighter wine you’re looking for).
Just like with anything else, you’re going to have to dive into the world of wine and taste a bunch to start learning about the types of wine that you like.
If you’re still not satisfied with the wine, sometimes you need to let it breathe.
I’m not kidding.
I was prompted to write this post because I opened a bottle of wine with my sister and cousin last night and they started drinking before me.
My sister wasn’t a fan of the wine and almost dumped her glass.
I stopped her.
I had her put her wine through an aerator and then let it sit for a few minutes to open up.
She started drinking it again and was BLOWN away by how much better the wine was.
I had her go back and try the pre-aerated wine again because I wanted to see if she would notice the difference and she definitely did.
If the wine is too dry for you, use an aerator and give it some time to open up.
The same concept applies for wine that you’ve opened and you try a glass a day for a week… You’ll find that the wine tastes differently over the span of the week.
Amateur Mistake #4
Thinking Moscato (or White Zinfandel) Is Actually Wine
Whenever I talk about wine and then someone says, “oh I love wine too! Let’s order a moscato,” I die a little inside.
Moscato is like syrup water… It might as well be juice rather than wine.
White Zinfandel isn’t even made the same way as regular wine.
Way back in the days, there was a huge boom for red zinfandel wines.
If you google the history of white zinfandels, you’ll find this on Wikipedia (yea yea I know, don’t use Wikipedia as a source — this isn’t a college essay so you’re welcome to fact check all of this):
In the 1970s Sutter Home Winery was a producer of premium Zinfandel red wine in the Napa Valley. To increase concentration in their wines, they used the saignée technique to bleed off some of the grape juice before fermentation, to increase the impact of compounds in the skins on the remaining wine. The excess juice was separately fermented into a dry, almost white wine that Sutter Home called “White Zinfandel.”
In 1975, Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel experienced a “stuck fermentation“, a problem that occurs when the yeast dies out before consuming all of the sugar.This problem juice was set aside. Some weeks later the winemaker tasted it, and preferred this accidental result, which was a sweet pink wine. This is the style that became popular and today is known as White Zinfandel, but in the early days was known as Cabernet Blanc. Sutter Home realized they could sell far more White Zinfandel than anything they had produced to date, and gradually became a successful producer of inexpensive wines. They remain one of the biggest producers of the wine, with annual shipments of over 4 million cases.
In other words, when Sutter Home was making red zinfandel, they wanted to make it more concentrated so bled off some of the grape juice from the skins of the grapes. They fermented the runoff and bam, you get white zinfandel.
It’s a lighter, sweeter, almost white wine that’s not even really wine.
Amateur Mistake #5
Drinking Wine Out Of The Wrong Glass
Wine glasses are actually necessary.
If you don’t believe me, try drinking a glass of wine from an actual wine glass, from a mug and from a plastic SOLO cup.
I guarantee you that you’ll be blown away by how different the wine tastes.
Firstly, drinking wine is supposed to be an experience. If you’re not going to do it the right way, drink liquor or beer.
Your sense of smell has just as much to do with the taste of the wine as the actual taste.
The wine glass is designed to maximize the scent of the wine so you can truly enjoy it.
That also means, you need to ONLY be filling the glass to the widest part of the glass.
Overfilling the glass doesn’t allow you to swirl the glass or analyze the color of the wine.
To swirl the glass properly, set it on the table, grab it by the base and swirl. Do not swirl the wine while you’re holding the glass off of the table… Especially since that will generally require you to grab the glass by the bowl.
As for the color of the wine, if you like a lighter, sweeter wine, you’re going to want to go for a light-bodied wine like a pinot noir. The more you drink it, the more you start looking for rich, full-bodied wines like cabernet’s and zinfandels.
Here’s what I mean by analyzing the color of the wine:
When I pour my glass of wine, I love a dark, deep, full-bodied wine… I even joke around that I like my wine to look as rich and deep as blood because I know how rich the wine is going to be.
Amateur Mistake #6
Judging Wine Based On Price
Just because it’s expensive doesn’t make it a good wine.
I’ve had expensive bottles of wine that I wasn’t a fan of at all and I’ve had MANY $12 bottles of wine that were incredible.
A lot of it comes down to your taste preference and you can only learn that by tasting a whole bunch of different wines.
For example, I don’t like most Malbec wines. It’s not to say that I’ll never find one that I like, they’re just not my style. I also don’t care for most pinot noir’s because they’re too light, both in color and taste.
I also haven’t been a fan of most of the Spanish and Argentinian wines that I’ve tried… but I loveeeee a big, bold, red zinfandel especially from Lodi, CA and I have a special place in my heart for wine from South Africa.
I’ll drink other wines, but those are my absolute favorite.
One of the most interesting wines to introduce to people is called Cappupino Ccinotage (Cappuccino Pinotage).
It’s a pinotage from South Africa that’s next door to an espresso factory. The runoff from the water from the espresso factory gets into the grapes for the wine and when you drink it, you can almost taste and smell hints of coffee and banana. It’s one of the most interesting wines I’ve ever had and it usually gets a huge reaction from the people I introduce it too.
That’s a $13-15 bottle of wine when you can find it.
My all-time favorite wines to introduce to people who say they don’t like red wine are Boneshaker and Moss Roxx. Those are both $15-20 bottles of wine.
They’re both big, bold reds that are smooth without a lot of the dryness to them. People who like bold wines will enjoy them and people who don’t really drink red wine will enjoy them too.
I’ve tested this theory on at least a few dozen people and so far, I’ve only found one or two people who didn’t enjoy them.
All three of those wines will taste differently when you first uncork them compared to once they’ve opened up (whether that’s by letting them sit or using an aerator).
Great wine doesn’t have to be expensive.
When you get suggest going to wine tastings to actually get to try the wine before you buy it.
… However, just a quick tip for wine tastings: if you’re going to do a wine tasting, make sure that you don’t eat bleu cheese, brie or any other kind of bold cheese that they have to offer or you’re not really going to get to taste the wine.
Stick with a mild, hard cheese while you’re tasting wines so the cheese doesn’t overpower the wine.
Oh, by the way… If you start to follow these six tips, you are officially a wine snob.