I’ve been drinking wine for a while now, and have come up with Jamie’s 7 Commandments of Drinking Wine. 😉
No, the wine gods won’t smite you if you don’t follow these, but I’ve found these “rules” to be a good guiding force.
1. Never say never. Moscato. Riesling. Chardonnay. I’ve said before that I’d never drink these wines and guess what…I have (that’s Riesling in the glass to the right!)! Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right one, from the right place. As I’ve continued to learn, each varietal will take on different characteristics depending on where it’s grown – climate and country. So if you’ve tasted one Malbec, you’ve tasted one Malbec. Try another if it wasn’t necessarily your cup of tea. And if you don’t know where to begin…
2. Ask for recommendations. It’s overwhelming walking into a grocery store or wine shop and seeing row upon row of wine. Whether its from a sommelier (whose job is to take you on a wine experience), a wine store clerk, or a friend, asking for help and a recommendation can be extremely valuable in navigating the aisles. True, people have different tastes and preferences, so maybe taking a recommendation from a random passerby isn’t necessarily the best idea, but someone who you know has similar tastes to your own would surely have a recommendation you could get behind. And while I wouldn’t necessarily ask anyone at my grocery store for a wine recommendation, those specialty wine shops are stocked with people who know the industry. Tell them what you like. Tell them what you’re interested in. They will help you. Or I’m sure you can find an app for that. 😉
3. Don’t judge a wine solely by its label. Or rather, just by looking at an enticing illustration or clever name. Easier said than done, I know. Some of these marketing schemes draw you in simply because it’s a pretty bottle or there’s fancy calligraphy. That doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but I also wouldn’t completely dismiss a fancy/beautiful label outright because I thought it was out of my league. I always find that some of the fanciest are the French wines, and I certainly have struggled with understanding what’s on the label. Here’s an interesting read by Wine Folly about labels. When in doubt, read up on a wine, or just buy it and try it. But you may find that the next commandment will come in handy…
4. Don’t judge a wine by its first sip alone. Sometimes you just need to give the wine a minute to breathe. And sometimes, you have a funky taste in your mouth. Ever had a glass of wine shortly after you brushed your teeth? Been there; it’s gross. There are so many other factors – maybe your wine is too chilled and needs to warm up a bit, maybe your wine is too warm and should be chilled a bit (temperature has a lot to do with how a wine tastes, that’s why varietals have recommended serving temps!). And sometimes you just need to oxygenate the wine so the tannins soften and other flavors and aromas develop. So when you pour the wine, give it a swirl, a sip, then swirl it some more and let it sit. Maybe it is a bad wine, but first impressions aren’t the only ones, so give that wine some time to shine.
5. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. I’m not about to take myself on a safari or scale a mountain because those things terrify me (but never say never, right?). But I certainly don’t need to be afraid of unknown varietals or wine regions. This past year I’ve tried several that’ve previously turned me off, simply because I had no context for what the wine would taste like. By doing a little research – or just buying a random bottle for kicks – I’ve found many new varietals I’d gladly buy again. Still sound a bit too risky for you? What about pooling together with a few friends and splitting a couple options to test the waters?! That’s another fun way to explore new wine territory and make it more fun and memorable, even if the wine itself isn’t your fave. Speaking of…
6. It’s okay to dump. Do not force yourself to drink something that’s terrible. I repeat, do NOT. A) The wine could certainly be a flawed, so if it tastes/smells rancid maybe you should call the wine shop you bought it at to check if that’s normal. B) Wine is about the experience, and honestly, you should enjoy that experience. Force-feeding yourself something that isn’t good just, well, isn’t good. Sometimes the kitchen sink can take one for the team.
7. You don’t need a special occasion to drink your wine. How many times have you thought, “I’m going to save this for a really special celebration” and then you find out you’ve been hanging on to something too long? Or maybe even, “I can’t buy that because it deserves a special occasion”? Not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t save a special bottle or two for that anniversary or retirement or something like that, but you can drink good wine for any old occasion. Honestly, sometimes getting through the week can feel like it deserves a victory lap, so why not treat yourself to something simply because you know you’ll enjoy it? Pop that bottle! Oh, but if you don’t want to drink it all, there’s also the Coravin which has been raved about a lot lately (they also sell it on amazon)! #treatyoself
Wishing you all happy – and safe – wine drinking ahead!
Share some of your commandment ideas or your favorite bottles below!