I don't really know that much about wine. I know that I like it a lot. I like it enough, in fact, to have got my wine game to a respectable enough place so that I don't look like a total idiot when ordering at restaurants. No more sitting on the ground in the backyard of house parties drinking cheap wine straight out of the bottle for this girl. I've become better at wine, and you can too. It doesn't mean becoming an amateur sommelier (seriously, who cares? If it tastes good, drink it), but there are little ways to make your wine drinking experience even more fun than it already is. Yes, that's right: There are more fun things to do with and around wine than simply drinking it. Wild, I know.
These little bits of wine wisdom I've picked up along the way will also make you look really cool in front of your friends. Because let's be real, which of them actually knows anything about wine? Everyone is just making it up as they go along anyway, except for maybe like, three people. So take it from me, the non-expert wine expert. You only need to know just enough to drink wine that tastes good, but not enough that everyone thinks you're a stupid jerk when you start talking about wine.
1. AIR OUT YOUR RED
Because I am classy, but mostly because I earn the money that writers earn, which is not the sort of money that allows you to buy wine that costs more than $9, I drink Trader Joe's $3 wine when I'm at home. It doesn't taste bad at all, but it tastes surprisingly quite good after it's been left to air out for a while. I normally just pop the cork off and let it sit in the bottle before drinking it, but if you want to really feel and look fancy when you're airing out your wine buy yourself a glass decanter to pour it into.
2. HAVE NICE WINE ACCESSORIES IN YOUR HOUSE
I love to drink wine out of a tall stemmed glass rather than a coffee mug. It makes the experience all the more delightful. Have nice wine things, like glasses, a wine rack, cute stoppers and a decanter to make the whole experience feel like something a grown up would do.
3. WATCH A WINE SHOW
I love Oz and James' Big Wine Adventure with James May and Oz Clarke. It's like Top Gear but for wine, with the British sensibility of The Trip. After watching it one time, many years ago, I went out to a restaurant that served Sangiovese wine, and no one else in my group had ever heard of it. But wiley old Kat George had watched Oz and James the night before and learned some facts about the Sangiovese that she then went on to impress the socks off her friends with. Please note that she does not remember any of those facts today (probably drank them right out of her brain, let's be honest.)
4. EAT SOME CHEESE WITH IT
When in doubt, add cheese. No seriously though, wine and cheese are like Ross and Rachel: they're meant to be together. You can easily find a list of which wine should be paired with what kind of cheese because the internet is magic and bam! – you look like you know what's up.
5. KNOW HOW A WINE LIST IS ORGANIZED
The easiest way to blag like you know what wine you want at a restaurant is to know that the wine list is always organized from lightest to darkest. So if you want a lighter red order from the top of the reds list, as the further you go down the heavier they will get. This has saved me so many times when I've looked at a wine list and not recognized any of the wines. Note: None of this holds true at a dive bar, but please don't order wine at a dive bar, or anywhere where they have two types of wine: house red and house white. Put those days behind you.
6. ASK YOUR SERVER
If you're at an establishment that fits somewhere in the spectrum of "pretty nice" to "fancy", the servers will be more than pleased to talk to you about the wine selection. Don't be embarrassed; no server expects a customer to be a sommelier. Sometimes your indecision will even lead to a bartender letting you try two or three wines before you decide, which is a perfect way to get something that you really like. Also, I've asked a server, and you're most definitely allowed to say no to wine you're tasting if you don't like it.
7. PICK ONE TYPE OF WINE TO BE YOUR FAVORITE
Choose one wine you really like. Get to know the flavor well, so you can comment on whether it's fruity or dry or smoky or wine-y. Know where they serve it. Go there. Say to your friends "Get the Malbec, it's so great." Pray that no one says "Actually I prefer [insert wine you've never heard of here]" expecting you to respond with something smart about wine. If you go somewhere and they don't have a Malbec, look genuinely disappointed and say "I wish they had a Malbec." Then you're free to order a vodka soda, which is basically just clear wine anyway.
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