Are you an enthusiastic wine novice, but want to make your friends think you’re a fully-fledged expert?
Of course you do – and it’s easier than you think!
Here, Amelia Singer and Joe Fattorini, presenters of The Wine Show, who’ve partnered with luxury cruise line Celebrity Cruises, decant some of their wine wisdom on buying, serving and tasting.
Here’s how to feel like an oenologist – without having to bow to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine…
1. Get the temperature right
Contrary to popular belief, you should always put red wines in the fridge a little bit before you serve them, but take white wines out a little bit before serving them. Red wines are always a little bit too warm and white wines are always a little bit too cold, so just give them some time, the wrong way around.
2. Break the rules
Never ever think you can’t have red wine with fish or white wine with meat. It’s actually much more interesting to play around with the different flavours, such as condiments, spices, sauces and textures. You can either try to balance out your pairings by mixing a spicy wine with a spicy dish, or you can contrast.
3. A soft drink can be your flavour guide
If you find Diet Coke is unpleasantly metallic, you are unlikely to like really big, full-bodied wines because your palette is really sensitive. You’ll tend to prefer lighter styles of red, like Boujele and a light-bodied Côtes du Rhône.
4. Make room for a magnum
If you are going to buy two bottles of wine for a party, stop! Buy a magnum. It’s much more fun and the wine ages much more beautifully in it. So always buy magnums rather than two bottles.
5. Don’t put wine in the freezer
If you need to quickly chill a wine, don’t put it in the freezer. What will chill it much faster is to put it in a little tub with water, ice and a bit of salt, and you just keep on swirling the bottle around. That will absolutely chill it down in just a few minutes.
6. Invest in stemware
Glasses do make a difference. It’s absolutely worth buying either Riedel or Zalto specialised wine glasses, which we have on board Celebrity Cruises. The different shapes enhance the different stylistic features in a wine. For instance, a very light, elegant, Burgundy will be more bowl shaped. If you want to have a slightly oaked chardonnay, the glass will be more tulip shaped – they really help to enhance the perfume and evolution of the wine as well.
7. Tasting notes
If you ever have to describe a wine to somebody and why you like it, there are three things that are really useful. Just tell them a couple of fruit aromas, and, really importantly, tell them how it feels – how does it feel on the palette, is it big, small, rough, smooth?
And the final thing is, always say what you would do with it. Is it a party wine? Is it a food wine? Is it a celebration wine? Is it a show-off wine? Is it something just to watch the TV with on a Thursday night? And those three elements give people all the information they need about a bottle of wine.
8. The bottle opener
Look at your corkscrew. What you want is a worm thread, which is a coil rather than a spike with a blade around it, because those will split old and delicate corks open.
The Wine Show takes place on board a Celebrity Cruises ship. The leading modern luxury cruise line offers one of the largest and rarest wine collections at sea. For more information on The Wine Show partnership, and to book a Celebrity Cruises holiday, call 0800 441 4054, visit celebritycruises.co.uk or talk to your travel agent.