How to choose wine on a date like a pro
When you go on a date there’s enough to worry about what with your outfit, turning up on time and starting engaging conversations; choosing what wine to have with dinner shouldn’t add to these stresses
To help you navigate the mindfield of choosing wine in a restaurant, Britain’s oldest wine merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd has given us some fail safe tips on how to choose and taste wine. You might even impress your date too!:
Being presented with a huge wine list can be very daunting, but in a good restaurant the sommelier (wine waiter) will be highly trained and your greatest asset, so there really is no need to admit it if you don’t know a lot about wine.
The art of matching
No, we’re not talking about eHarmony matching! When you and your date have chosen your food then decide on your wines. When selecting wine to match your meal the most important factors to consider are: Weight; Flavour Intensity; Fruit Character, Acidity, Salt, Texture, Tannin and Sweetness.
Match the Weight of both the food and wine. Full-bodied wines complement heavy, rich foods. Also, match the Flavour Intensity of both – for example, strong flavours like Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus, mild flavours like Muscadet and oysters. Consider the wine’s Fruit Character; the raspberry flavours in Pinot Noir complement duck the same way a delicious fruit sauce would.
Match or complement Acidity in wine and food: high-acid wines complement fatty foods the same way lemon cuts the greasiness of smoked salmon. Salt is not found in wine but does clash with tannic wines, so avoid this pairing. The more Texture a food has – fatty food like duck, chewy like steak – the more Tannin the wine should have. Always remember to choose a wine with greater sweetness than the food. Sweetness in wine also acts as a foil to rich foods with Sauternes and foie gras being a classic example.
But the most important factors to consider are your date’s preferences and your own. If they like a particular wine and you think it goes well with the food you’re eating, then it’s the right choice.
The art of ordering
When the bottle arrives at the table you can appear to be very wine savvy by checking the following: vintage (often changed without warning), name of the wine and the producer. Also, check that the temperature is satisfactory. It is better for both reds and whites to be too cold than too warm. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for an ice bucket to chill both the whites and reds.
Make sure that the wine is opened in front of you and that the red wine is preferably decanted at the table. When invited to taste the wine, do so. Don’t be rushed and if there is anything wrong don’t be afraid to say so immediately.
The art of tasting
When tasting a wine you should look at a number of different elements, including colour, smell and taste in order to make a judgement about the wine. Examining these elements will help you reach a decision about the quality of the wine, whether it is good condition and, ultimately whether to drink it.
Understanding how to properly taste wine can enhance your enjoyment of drinking it. It’s incredibly easy to get into the habit of picking up similar bottles, but you don’t eat the same food everyday so why drink the same wine? The wealth of different styles, grape varieties and price points means there is really something out there for everyone.
Once you have become a seasoned taster you will be able to identify quickly what you enjoy and what you don’t. This can take the stress out of choosing wines for dinner dates out or cosy nights at home.
There’s a whole world of wine out there and by learning the basics of tasting you’ll be able to recognise a fault in a wine, know what you like and why you like it, and feel very much more confident in your knowledge and, above all, impress your date!
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