Manners apply to everything in life, and wine is no exception. Wine has some rules… But mostly common sense. There are certain things you should do and some you shouldn’t. In this simple guideline article, I list a few of the simplest wine rules that I also like to refer to as “Wine Etiquette”.
WINE MANNERS TO GO, coming right up!
• Stay Hydrated My Friend
The key to drinking and fully enjoying wine is to drink water as well. Be sure to drink at least one glass of water for every glass of wine. Most drinkers who hydrate properly don’t get hangovers or wine headaches, thus able to enjoy more wine as a result… and who doesn’t like that?!
• Ice… ICE? Baby, this is cold
Yes, wine is supposed to be enjoyed at various degrees of temperature based on the varietal. With summer just around the corner, our evenings are getting warmer and so does our wine. It is becoming much harder to keep it chilled, but there are many ways to do so without having to add water. You can use an ice bucket, a chiller sleeve, a wine cooler, or my favorite: the Corkcicle. But if ice is what you need, you can make ice cubes with leftover wine! Don’t put ice in your wine unless we’re talking about Sangria. In that case: Yum ; )
• Don’t Drink Too Fast
People’s drinking habits are different from one another. As the host (or the guest), pay attention to everyone’s drinking pace and match it. The idea of drinking wine is to enjoy it together. On the other hand, if people are not drinking or finishing their glasses fast enough, you may formulate a polite announcement and tell them to drink up!
• Practice Swirling
This is the standard tabletop move. To avoid making a mess, hold the glass by the stem, keeping the glass base on the table, and move it in fast but small circles to create a small “vortex of heaven”. It increases the surface area of the wine exposed to air. In wine-speak, this “opens the bouquet” (releases aroma compounds) and “softens” the flavor. In simple terms, it makes the wine taste better.
• Don’t Be A Show-Off (or a snob)
Having a passion for wine and sharing it with friends is noble. I love telling wine stories, just as much as I love hearing them. But there’s a difference between sharing a story and spewing truckloads of wine expertise. Wine facts can be fun but there’s a time and a place for everything. Some people will start bragging about what they know and the places they’ve been to, instead of sharing that knowledge. What’s important isn’t the box, it’s what’s inside the box.
• Drink What Your Friends Like
“There is no better pairing than to the person who you are dining with.” – Aaron Epstein, Wine Curator … or as I say: “Wine is only as good as the people with whom it is being shared.”
When tasting wine at a winery, the entire focus is on the wine. Conversely, when enjoying wine at someone’s house, the focus shifts slightly and turns into friends and family having a good time. Wine becomes one of many beverage options. You might have the choice between two or three varietals, beer and hard liquor. Don’t be picky and “drink the wine you’re with.” It may not be your favorite but it’s just for one night. That said, if you really want to drink something else, bring your own bottle and share it with the rest of the group.
• Sharing Is Caring
There’s a French proverb that says whoever finishes a bottle shall get married within the year. If this were true, I would certainly hold the record of “most married man”. All jokes aside, if you want the last pour of wine, all you have to do is offer it to your friends first. If they’re polite, they’ll let you have it. If they aren’t, well now you know a lot more about them.
• Keep The Swishing And Gargling For The Bathroom
It’s OK (and recommended) to move the wine around the different parts of your mouth in order to enjoy the full spectrum of taste it has to offer. You may also take a small sip, hold the wine in your mouth as you tilt your head forward, and suck in a thin stream of air to aerate it. But you must remember we’re talking about wine and not Listerine! Don’t go nuts and keep the swishing to a minimum.
• The Right Glass For The Right Wine
Yes, there’s a reason why the glass is important. This may look like a bit of a stretch but you would be surprised. Shape, size and rim diameter are three important variables in wine tasting. Grape varietal specific stemware has to translate the “message” of wine to the human senses. For example, a flute stands tall and thin with a narrow opening. Not only does the glass conveys a pleasant visual sensation, its particular shape prevents the effervescence from escaping the glass to quickly and turning fizz into flat. Pleasurable and practical. For a closer look at wine glass shapes, check out one of our most popular article, Wine Ponder’s wine glass guide.
• Ladies First
I know, call me old fashioned, but this is a big one for me. It seems like a no brainer but we all tend to forget from time to time. Always serve the ladies and then the gents. It shows character and class. You’d be surprised ; )
• The Gift Of Wine
“What should I bring?” is a question we’ve all asked ourselves when going to someone’s house for dinner. You can’t show up empty-handed. A bouquet of fresh seasonal flowers for the hostess is always nice, and you can’t go wrong with that. Additionally, you can bring a nice bottle of wine to be enjoyed with dinner, or just as a gift to be enjoyed later. If you’re buying wine for someone you know, then get something you know they will like. If you’re buying wine for someone you don’t know that well, play it safe and stay neutral. Buy a medium priced wine of medium body. I suggest a $15-$20 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc if it’s warm out or a $15-$20 bottle of Merlot or Zinfandel if it’s cool out.
• Stick To Your Glass
Unless you need to make a point, and your point is to show crude and unfashionable behavior, do not drink out of the bottle – unless it has a built-in glass top… which I have to admit is pretty cool!
Don’t be a WINE SNOB, be a WINE STUD!