Welcome to Vino 101, a new monthly series in partnership with Vino Latino, where we’ll be exploring the world of wine and Latino vintners and winemakers in the U.S.
One thing that drives us crazy is how complicated and intimidating people can make wine. There are big thick books out there with titles such as, “How to Enjoy Wine,” “How to Taste Wine” and about a dozen different volumes of “Wine For Dummies.” It’s no wonder people are hesitant to even open a bottle.
You don’t need to read a book to taste or drink wine. And if you like the taste of what’s in your glass and you’re with good company, than you are probably already enjoying wine. However, there are a few things you can do to enhance your experience. But again, don’t get hung up on any one thing. At the end of the day wine drinking simply consists of delivering wine into your mouth via a glass or some other vehicle and then swallowing said wine. It’s not that complicated.
Start with good wine. A general rule is that most anything from a small producer that is hand crafted is probably going to taste pretty good. Cheap wines such as Charles Shaw are often harsh with very strong and dry tanins (the “burn” at the side of your mouth and palate when you swallow the wine) and cheap white wines often have a bitterness at the end of the taste. That’s because mass producers of wine have a passion to make money, whereas small artisan wineries have a passion to make good wine.
Use a good glass. I know it sounds silly, but glass matters. But, rather than go into a long scientific explanation and tell you what kind of wine should go with what glass, we’ll just make it real simple. The wine glass you use should not have a lip around the rim. The lip literally throws the wine onto a bitter part of your palate. I don’t care how great the wine is, it’s going to taste pretty bad in a Dixie cup, so use a wine glass.
Smell it first. Think about it, your sense of smell is about 1000 times more sensitive then your sense of taste, so smelling the wine is a huge part of enjoying wine. You will often see people swirl their glass before they smell it. Swirling the glass aerates the wine, which releases the aromas. As an experiment, sniff your wine before swirling. Now put your glass on the table and give it a few good swirls. Now smell the wine again. See the difference?
Drink the wine. If you want to get into it you can swish it all over your mouth. You can make a taco with your tongue and suck in some air. If that makes you happy, fine. But, at the end of the day, when you sit and drink a glass of wine, these are not things you do. Instead, you simply sip. Therefore, that’s our suggestion, sip your wine. However, if you are doing a tasting please consider this; when you first move from white wine to red, the red will taste bitter. Take a few sips before you judge the red wine to let your palate get accustomed to the change.
If you like it, refill your glass and drink some more. If you love it, buy it! Really, it’s that easy.
A great Latino winery to get started on your wine drinking journey is Robledo because they have such a wide variety of wines, including four really great dessert wines. Robledo Family Winery is located in Sonoma. The family came to this country as migrant workers and through hard work they now own over 300 acres of vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, and Lake counties.
Vino Latino is a wine club that celebrates the influence and contribution Latinos have given to the American Wine industry. All the wine we feature in the club is made with Latin passion in the USA.