What glass should I use?

This and other wine FAQs answered

As the sommelier in a restaurant, I get asked a myriad of questions about wine, and not just typical “what goes with this dish?” inquiries. Keep in mind that my answers aren’t a be-all, end-all, just my personal suggestions.

What wine glass should I use? Honestly, I’m the worst when it comes to this question. I know the professional answer, but I prefer to drink my wine out of a smallish, short, rocks-style glass. Sometimes at home it’s a coffee cup (gasp); anything stemless. When I’m in a restaurant I can manage to use a normal, stemmed, adult-type glass.

To really showcase a wine you should use a large glass, one where you can swirl the wine, get it exposed to oxygen so it can breathe, open and loosen up. I also prefer to use a white wine glass for sparkling wine.

Where are the best value wines coming from right now? This has not changed much over the years. The best values are coming from Chile (cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc), Argentina (malbec), Spain (grenache) and New Zealand (sauvignon blanc). You can also find a few excellent French rosés for under $10 a bottle right now. Australian shiraz can be cheap, too – but beware, it can be too cheap: a jammy fruit bomb that will result in a headache. Don’t do it.

How do I remove a wine label? This is tough, I admit. The easiest thing to do would be to snap a photo on your phone. But, if you want the actual evidence, put the bottle in the oven at 350 degrees, heat the bottle until it’s hot, remove very carefully with oven mitts and lift a corner of the label with a knife. It should peel right off. I’ve tried to boil a label off and it doesn’t really work that well.

What wine should I buy for a party? If it’s bubbles you seek, go for Prosecco from Italy or Cava from Spain. Both are a tremendous value and everyone will love them. For red, look for a French cotes-du-rhone or the aforementioned malbec from Argentina. For whites, buy a Chilean sauvignon blanc, or Italian pinot grigio. All are crowd pleasers.

A friend/relative/parent gifted me this old bottle of wine; how much is it worth? People have held onto certain wines, sometimes for decades. Maybe it was purchased when your daughter was born, or it signifies the year you were married. We hold onto wine for a myriad of reasons. The answer to how valuable one single bottle may be is: Not much, in monetary terms. Conversely, it’s priceless. If you have a case of 1976 Lafite Rothschild, then you are a serious collector or a lucky son of a gun. That one bottle you have, though? Just drink it and enjoy it. It means more to you than anyone else.

Should I decant? Probably not, especially if you are using large glasses. The wine should open up properly as you drink it. If the wine is older and has sediment, then you should decant it. If the wine is terribly tight and tannic, decant. Most wines, though, are made to drink now and should taste great.

Now it’s time to enjoy your wine. Cheers!

First appeared in the April 2017 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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