As a newbie to wine there is still much for me to learn. How to distinguish different bodies, tannins, smells, tastes, types of grapes and levels of acidity that all make for a good glass of wine. As a young twenty-something, I find that my current generation, and even some a bit older tend to not understand the appreciation for wine and wine drinking (which I am slowing beginning to learn myself). Wine has such a strong culture behind it and in order to drink correctly we must understand two important elements that equate to this factor. See the math below:
Glass + temperature = wine equilibrium.
I was asked recently by a subscriber on the proper way to hold a wine glass. I personally enjoy holding it by the stem, with my pinky up of course ;). No but really, it is suggested to hold your wine glass by the stem when drinking. For one, aesthetically, if you choose to hold your wine glass by its body, you are more prone to leaving fingerprints on the body of the glass, as we create a lot of natural oils from our fingers. This may seem minor, but there are many visual appeals to holding a wine glass and fingerprints on your glass just don’t look as nice! Secondly, not only do we produce a lot of oils, we also produce heat from our fingers, which can distort the temperature of the wine, affecting its taste. Therefore it is noted that holding a wine glass by the stem or base, is better for drinking purposes. The stem of the glass does not affect the temperature levels of the wine, which do not disrupt the wine’s flavor.
Why is temperature of the wine so important? Serving wine at the correct temperature helps to maintain the wines flavor and control the equilibrium to how it should be served. When speaking with Angelo, he noted that for white wines, such as sparkling white wines, it should be served at 6-8° Celsius or about 46° Fahrenheit. Full bodied white wines and light red wines should be served at 14-15° Celsius or 50-60° Fahrenheit. Full bodied red wines, like barberas and Barolo’s should be served at 18° Celsius or about 65° Fahrenheit.
The other half of our wine equilibrium is the type of glass we use. I must admit, I sometimes get lazy and am looking for a quick sip and will put my wine in any type of glass I have around. Lets be honest, who else does this? However, by doing this we are ultimately cheating ourselves of the many flavors our wine has to offer!
Take a look at this picture to the left of an experiment, BatasioloSommelier Angelo Fornara and I did together. We used one Batasiolo Barolo wine and placed it in 6 different style cups. He asked me to smell and taste each one and tell him my thoughts. I was surprised that they each had a different outcome, especially as the glasses got bigger and allowed for more aroma to fill my nose and mouth. The taste was also hugely different from glass (or cup) to glass. Using a small espresso cup and mug gave the wine no taste at all! It was extremely bitter and a turn off from red wine drinking altogether. As I moved towards the larger glasses the taste got a little stronger, and more flavors were able to coat my palate. In this case, the larger, rounded wide mouth was best to sip this wine from. It allowed for the full body of the flavor to extend and give it the gusto I was looking for!
White wines can be sipped from a smaller mouthed glass because white wines should not warm up too much when they are consumed. The smaller the glass, the more cool temperature can be kept in the glass and allow for the flavor to stay at bay. Once it begins to get warm, the body and flavor of the wine changes, leaving you with more alcohol taste than fruit taste.
How have or do you drink your wine? Let me know! I’d love to hear other opinions!
Words and images by: Jennifer Rowe | InTheRowe.com