let people enjoy their wine

“Oh, but now you just don’t remember all the things you said/And you’re not sure you want to know…”

Subtitle: This is Why Everybody Hates You.

A few months ago I got really pissed off at a girlfriend because she told me she wasn’t into scenes. We had stopped at a really crowded brewery that I had promised would not be crowded (it never had been before) and she was annoyed. She went on about how she hates the craft beer scene. And the wine scene?! Don’t even get her started. “But I’m part of that scene!” I cried. “And I don’t hang out with you when wine is involved because I don’t want to hate you. ‘That’s a really nice Bordeaux!'” I had in fact once complimented someone that way at a dinner party at her place so maybe she has a point.

Every once in a while I’m reminded of why everyone hates us. Us being wine people. I still don’t know how to refer to myself. A reviewer of my book called me an International Wine Expert. Sorry, what?! Sure, I hold a certification from a school based in London and one from Spain but I’m not an expert. Not even close. It’s pretty hard to know enough about wine to constitute as an expert. Unless you’re a master somm. Which I am not. But I know my way around the world in 80 varietals. I know how to store and serve. I know how to pair. And I know to keep my fucking mouth shut and just let people enjoy their wine.

Looking For Podcast Co-Host

A while back I wanted to start a podcast called “This is why everybody hates you.” I like to talk about all the things people do that annoy me. Don’t worry, y’all I’m the first episode. And it’s a long one.

Luckily I’ve reigned it in. Also, I had to fire my co-host for turning into a person everyone hates. But that’s a story for another day. That said, every once in a while something happens that drives me to take to Facebook or this blog to rant. And here’s today’s: keep your fucking mouth shut and just let people enjoy their wine.

Exhibit A

This post, from a comedy page on Facebook, shows Wine Enthusiast’s cheat sheet for glasses/pour sizes and the funny response essentially saying, “Doesn’t matter, pouring to the rim!” Comedy page. Funny response.

There were a ton of hysterical comments about what people drink out of. Lots of kids’ plastic glasses, mason jars, the bottle… because comedy. Someone tagged me in it and sadly, I saw the comment posted above. And it totally killed my buzz. This is why we wine peeps are detested. Because of people like this buzzkill commenter who failed to understand a few basic things:

  1. The post was supposed to be funny.
  2. Shut the fuck up.
  3. Let everyone enjoy their wine.

I found myself instantly responding to people’s cups of choice with “Drink what you like how you like it!” Because unless you’re blinding a wine or serving something really exceptional as a pairing, there’s really no need for this kind of behavior. And it frightens people away from wine.

That said, the person is correct that you’re not supposed to pour it to the rim. But guess what? Most people don’t care. And when you scold people and call them trashy they are unlikely to want to learn.

Also, things like “releasing the tannins” and “stirring” the wine should not be thrown around with such a judgy tone. Because they are absolutely wrong. So, please, don’t cringe from wine because of people like this. Take it from me, there are plenty of us on many different parts of the journey who are happy to help you get to know wine better, only if you want to, and who will keep our mouths shut and let you enjoy your wine.

If you do want a few tips, tricks, and ideas though, read on. Otherwise, go drink your Barefoot from a Darth Vader sippy cup with a straw and do it proudly. Ain’t no shame in your game.

Some Stuff You Might Want To Know From A “Wine Expert”*

This list is simply a fun reaction to the nonsense above and will hopefully make a few people smile or enjoy a glass or maybe learn something new. Do with it what you want.

There’s a reason we swirl. Swirling wine oxygenates it. The oxygen releases the phenolic compounds. More importantly (and in English): this actually changes how the wine smells, tastes and feels. Seriously! Next time, pour yourself some wine straight from the bottle and sniff and taste it. Then give it a swirl and do that again. You should notice a difference. This is also why we do that obnoxious sucking in air and gargling thing.

Red glasses are all you need. But if you want to drink out of a mason jar, do it! I do. I also regularly drink out of pint glasses. My husband and I generally don’t buy glasses except for when we visit breweries so other than a few, we drink out of whatever’s clean. Sure you’ll get the full experience if you fill the glass until the recommended level and swirl, but again: it’s not necessary.

You can make any bottle of red taste $20 better. I’m serious. You’ve probably seen people use what’s called a decanter, or maybe one of those aerators on top of a bottle. These add oxygen (big theme!) to the wine and “open” it making it taste, smell and feel even better. But you don’t need either aparatus. Just empty out a glass and then cover and shake the bottle, or, if you don’t want to waste, pop the whole bottle in your clean blender and let ‘er rip for 20 seconds or so. Hipster somms call it “hyper decanting.” I call it being cheap. Either way, it makes a difference. Don’t do this with whites, though. They don’t like a lot of oxygen. And you don’t like them on oxygen.

There’s a flaw you can fix. If you buy screw top wine, which is way more common these days and better for the environment, and it smells like struck match (or tastes like it), the wine is “reduced.” That means it didn’t get enough oxygen and needs a little more. Don’t dump it out! Just pop it in the blender. Other wine flaws are not fixable.

Tannins and sulphites get a bad rap. Tannins are in lots of foods. They are phenolic compounds (one of hundreds in wine) that appear on the skins and stems of grapes. Because red wine is made red by leaving the skins in contact with the juice, red wine is often tannic… which is kind of a weird gravelly/astringent quality. Think of black tea which is like 100% tannin. They’re in peanut skins, too. While some of us like them, others hate them. I get nauseated from teas that are super tannic unless they’re diluted but I’ve yet to come across a wine so tannic I hurled. I’ve hurled for other reasons.

If you have an actual sulphite allergy (which you probably don’t) you should never drink wine because all wine has sulphites. Yup, all of it. When you see those labels on wine they’re saying that they didn’t add sulphites. But they’re still in the wine. You can learn more about this myth in an article I wrote a long time ago—it also includes a list of lots of other things that have sulphites in them that will cause an allergic reaction in people who have a sulphite allergy. As someone with a food allergy (fish and shellfish, boo!) I’m not being a dick, but less than 1% of the human population has an issue with sulphites.

That hangover? It’s pretty much always caused by the same thing: dehydration. Ethanol acts as a diuretic, so you break the seal and pee a lot more than you would normally and that’s what makes you miserable the next day. It’s not sulphites or tannins or red wine or white. It’s a mistake we all make. I made it Tuesday night. But it was worth it. If you want to avoid one you’re going to want to drink way more water than usual.

Don’t like the way tannins make your mouth feel? White wine doesn’t have many unless the label says “orange wine” or “skin contact white.”

The Most Important Two Things

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to wine and life. The first is: drink what you like, when you like it, out of whatever container you please. Swirl it or don’t, pair it or don’t. Wine is there for you to enjoy.

The second thing is sage advice for the internet and the rest of the time you have to interact with humans: don’t be a dick. Sure, I was a dick in my response. And I could have been more of a dick. I generalized a lot (not including that tannins are a phenolic compound because I didn’t feel like getting into the nitty gritty science of swirling, that we swirl white which doesn’t generally even have tannins, etc) because my point was more in line with this second thing. No one cares if you think you know about wine. Or even if you do know about wine. People want to go to a humor page on Facebook because they want to laugh so please… you know.

If you want to know more about wine, find a local tasting or follow wine bloggers on Instagram and beyond. We’re here to help and we love to talk wine without being jerks. Most of us, anyway!

“I’ll give you one hint, honey/You sure did put on a show…”

*in quotes because I’m well aware of how much more there is to know.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.