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Wine Aficionado: One easy lesson

If you want to mingle with wine experts, then you need to learn the basics of wine. The correct term for a wine expert is a sommelier. It is pronounced “so-melly-ay.”

When you serve a red wine, uncork it an hour or so before you serve it. This is known as “letting the wine breathe” and improves the wine’s flavor. White wines also need to breathe, but not as long. Keep white wine in the refrigerator until it is time to uncork it. Uncork white wines about a half an hour before serving. Keep them on ice even while breathing them, right up until serving time. Serve white wines cold. Pink or pale red wines also need to be kept in the refrigerator until it is time to uncork them. In general, full red wines should be served just about at room temperature. However, cellar temperature, which is slightly cooler, is better.

The proper wine to serve depends on the meal it is served with. Use these basic guidelines to pick the right wine for your meal.

Red: Beef, Barbeque, Sausages, Goose, Lamb, Roasted Dishes

Sparkling White: Seafood, Salty Foods, Poultry

Dry White: Flaky Fish, Vegetable Dishes, Poultry

Rosé: Richly Flavored Dishes

Dessert Wine: Sweet Dishes

Sweet White: Spicy Dishes

Tasting wine is a big part of the experience and then talking with other wine lovers about what you taste. The first thing to remember about wine tasting is that you need a clean palate before taking a sip. To clean your palate, take a sip of water before tasting.

You also have to be in an open, relaxed state of mind. Wine tasting is a subtle thing, so you need to really be able to pay attention to what your taste buds are telling you. Breathe deeply and evenly for a moment or two and calm your mind before you start tasting.

HELPFUL HINT: Selecting the correct wine glass is also an important factor. Thinner stems with fine edges improve the feel and placement of the wine. Typically, a larger bowl is used for red wine and a smaller bowl for white and rosé. Flutes amplify the bubble effect in sparkling wines. The fill point in a wine glass is usually at the widest point of the bowl.

Remember your nose is the key to how your palate functions. In other words, your sense of taste is enhanced by your sense of smell. Hold the wine glass up to your nose and smell it before you put it to your lips. Close your eyes when you do take the sip. It can help you focus on your sense of taste better. Swirl the wine around in your mouth to really get all your taste buds involved. Keep in mind that tastes are subjective. There is no wrong answer when it comes to describing what you think the wine tastes like.

With a little practice, you can choose and taste wines like a true wine connoisseur. With a little more practice, you might even start to develop some genuine, surprising wine-related insights. So sit back, relax and enjoy. Cheers!