Learning How To Drink Wine Before Enjoying A Wine Tasting
Is wine complicated?
Intimidating to order in a restaurant?
It can be, but doesn’t have to be, says wine consultant James King. In fact, he’s got a simple solution.
“The only way to learn about wine is to drink wine,” he said. “So the more you drink, the more you learn.”
Now that sounds like instructions the Bar Blogger can follow with ease. In football, they call this “reps,” as in repetitions. In wine, I supposed it’s called drinking. If school had been that easy, I would have been a straight-A student. No wonder James calls it “wine the fun way.”
King said this – and more – during a seminar followed by a wine tasting at the 2013 Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show in Long Beach, CA (Jan. 12 & 13). This was a great addition to the show, which features travel adventure representatives from around the world, from river rafting in California to safaris in Africa. And there were a lot of wine areas, as well, such as in Yosemite. Who knew Yosemite has wineries? That’s definitely something to explore in the future.
And when I go – and also to the Santa Ynez Valley, which also has a beer trail! – I’ll know more of what to do when I have the wines, thanks to James. He said there are five things to do when tasting wine:
1.) Look at it. Preferably against something white (King utilizes a piece of paper). “I’m looking for clarity,” he clarifies. White wine yellows with age and red wine loses it color.
2.) Swirl. Get air in it.
3) Smell. “This works well because I have this big nose,” he deadpans. “Is there something odd in the smell? Bad wine smells like wet newspaper.” So don’t drink wine that smells like a smelly newspaper. That sounds simple enough.
4.). Sip. “Roll the wine around the mouth. At this point, you are tasting, not drinking.”
5) Spit or swallow. Personally, I opt for the latter, of course. And to this, I would add “enjoy.”
King also said some interesting things about choosing wines in the store and ordering it a restaurant, both challenges for wine novices.
“You know what you like and know what you are willing to spend,” he said “Don’t let anyone tell you to spend more than you want to spend.” This is something the Bar Blogger firmly believes in, by the way, often over the protests of my wine-loving friends.
“Also,” King says, “look at the year. Look at the region. You are looking for a commonality in the wines you enjoy.”
In a restaurant, “I’m afraid to ask the waiter to recommend a wine because he’s likely to pick something that makes him the most profit,” King says. “It should be a conversation between you and the waiter. He should ask you what you like, what you are having for dinner and what you want to spend. Point to a particular price on the wine list, and have him use that as your price guideline.”
The travel show’s wine tasting event also featured a couple of tasty culinary nibbles from Chef Jason Collis of Plated Events catering. “Wine not only compliments food, it makes the food pop,” he explained. “And the way to pair wine with food is to first tale a sip of wine, have the food, then have another taste of wine.”
That 2-for-1 wine-to-food ratio is something worthy of a cheers (if there’s one thing I learned while covering the San Diego Wine & Food Festival it’s that chefs are fun and like their wine and cocktails as much as me!)
After this taste-tempting presentation we got to sample five wines. My favorite was a malbec from Argentina. I had never had it before, never even considered it an option, in fact. But it’s a smooth red, much like a cabernet sauvignon. Malbec, I later discovered with a bit of research, is the primary red grape in Argentina.
The wine tasting was a great addition to the show but it needs some refinement.
At the beginning, those who paid $15 in advance ($20 that day) additional were determined to get their money’s worth as soon as the first cork was popped. The area and people pouring the wine were ill equipped to handle this initial rush; it resembled people elbowing their way to a lone keg at a fraternity party.
Those with patience were rewarded the most, and I saw my buddy Michael of SouthBayFoodies.com and met other cool bloggers, too: Tom of TomsFoodieBlog,com, and Daniele of DanisDecadentDeals.com. It’s always fun to bond with fellow bloggers, and wine tastings are all about enjoying sips of wine and talking with other lively people.
Eventually, that’s what this wine tasting turned into, at least for those of us patient enough to not treat it like last call at the last bar.
For more on the wine tasting at the LA Travel & Adventure Show, click here.
For more on the LA Travel & Adventure Show, click here.
For more from James King – not King James, he’s not Lebron – go to kinggroupevents.com.