Wine Tip Wednesday Roundup

I try to post a tip on Wednesdays on my Facebook page and I thought I ‘d share them here, too. I will be sharing more next week, so make sure you come back for that post. In the meantime, enjoy these tips 🙂

TIP 1: Having people over? Open a high tannin red wine 2-3 hours before serving to let it breathe and soften the tannins. Cut the time in half by using a decanter. Note, necessary breathing times will vary by wine. Try it out and smell/taste how the wine changes with length of air contact.

red wine

TIP 2: When dining out, don’t let the server rush you into ordering your wine. After all, you went out to EAT. Decide first what you’d like to eat, then order your drink to complement your meal.

eating out

TIP 3: Food and wine pairing that works for the most part: If it grows together, it goes together.

food and wine pairing

TIP 4: Different parts of your mouth are more sensitive to certain tastes. Swish the wine in your mouth to coat every tastebud and you’ll discover flavours you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

TIP 5: Swirl the wine to bring out the aromas and bouquet. This will also help you identify any faults (ie, the wine is off/spoiled). Then sniff, sniff.

TIP 6:

chilling wine

Chill wine fast!

LIKE It Tastes Like Wine on Facebook to get weekly tips.

Tips for an enjoyable wine tasting experience for everyone

Whether you’re going to a wine festival, wine touring visiting one tasting room to the next or meeting up with fellow wine lovers, it’s important to keep your senses sharp in order to take in as much of each wine as possible. I’ve been tasting a lot of wine at a set amount of time lately, and I’ve discovered that your senses can get overwhelmed faster than you think. Here are some tips to help you combat sensory fatigue.

Ditch the perfume.


Image source: Blue Grouse Wines Instagram. Click here to visit their IG page.

My number one piece of advice. This includes anything scented: cologne, body sprays, scented lotion and even hair products. These scents interfere with not only your wine tasting experience, but others around you too, overpowering the subtleties of the tasty liquid in the glass. Do yourself and others a favour and do not wear or apply anything on that gives off a scent.


wine spit bucket

Not your typical looking spit bucket.

It’s okay to spit the wine. Staying sober will allow you to appreciate even more wines appropriately. That is, while your senses are still sharp. After all, that’s why you’re attending the wine tasting right? To discover more tasty wines. It would be a shame to only properly discover 3 or 4 when it could’ve easily been 10 or 15!

Drink water.


Whether or not you spit, stay hydrated. Water acts as a palate cleanser, too. We all know it’s particularly important to drink water when consuming alcohol, so please always have water when wine tasting.

Taste with a full stomach.

wine and food

Meatballs, olives, grapes, cheese and crackers. Just some food to try with a ‘big red’ tasting I did with friends.

Just like not drinking water, we all know what happens when you have alcohol without food in your system. You get drunk, fast. Being hungry is never pleasant, so even if you decide to taste and spit, you want the experience to be a good one. Don’t taste wine on an empty stomach.

If you’re at a wine festival or visiting tasting rooms and they offer food, eat. If you’re getting together with other winos, make sure there’s food.

Ask questions. 

Dunham Cellars

This lovely young lady at Dunham Cellars could spit out facts about the winery and Walla Walla like she owns it.

Wherever you’re tasting wines, ask questions. Whether it’s pertaining to the wine region, terroir, wine maker, characteristics of the wine, good food pairings, or thoughts on the wine, ask questions. When wine lovers unite, you learn so much simply by asking.

Got any tips or suggestions for a great wine tasting experience? I’d love to hear some – leave a comment below.

At What Temperature to Serve Your Wine

Summer, please stay until at least late September! My favourite season in Vancouver just came and now it’s already the last few days of August. Wahhh!

The gradual change in temperature got me thinking about a topic my friend Jackie brought up (visit her site if you’re looking for beautiful gift baskets!). She enjoys a glass every now and then, but wouldn’t consider herself a wino. She’s unsure at what temperature to serve her wines. You too? Good thing you dropped by then.

summer and wine

The general rule is white, rosé, and sparkling wine are served chilled. Reds at room temperature. But here’s the problem. How cold is chilled? And room temperature varies by season and person! Also, you may not have known either that the recommended temperature even varies by wine type.

Ultimately, the best wines are enjoyed with the company of awesome friends, so whatevs if you’re off by a few or several degrees.

Without further ado, here’s what the wine experts recommend.

Red Wine Serving Temperature

Even though red wine is generally served at room temperature, there are some that benefit from being chilled slightly. In fact, if you’re just starting out and want to numb the boldness of reds a bit, put your bottle in the fridge and you’ll notice it’s easier to drink.

Light body reds like Valpolicella and Beaujoulais should be served at 13ºC (55ºF). For my new world bias friends, Gamay is a varietal you’d serve at around this temperature. Lightly chilled.

Medium/full bodied reds like Australian Shiraz, Red Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Cabernet Sauvignon are best served between 15 to 18ºC (59 to 56ºF). Room temperature.

Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature

Try to serve your bubbly well chilled between 6 to 10ºC (43 to 50ºF).

Sweet Wine Serving Temperature

Sweet as in late harvest or ice wines are best served well chilled, just slightly cooler than sparkling wine anywhere between 6 to 8ºC (43 to 45ºF).

White Wine Serving Temperature

Medium/full body, oaked whites like oaked Chardonnays and White Burgundy are great best served at not that much cooler than light body reds. Try to serve it between 10 to 13ºC (50 to 55ºF). Lightly chilled.

Light/medium body whites like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Pinot Grigio should be served chilled at 7 to 10ºC (45 to 50ºF).

If you deviate from the above, don’t fret. They’re just guidelines to give you a better understanding of what works well. It’s not like we all carry thermometers around. Like I said before, to guarantee the wine is tasty, regardless of temperature, make sure you enjoy it in the company of great friends. I also find that it’s very tasty after a long day at work. Salud!

What is Meritage? How do you say it?

Want to look like you know a thing or two? Next time you want to try a new world Bordeaux style wine, ask for a Meritage. But make sure you pronounce Meritage correctly when you’re at the store.

Meritage and Bordeaux

What is Meritage?

In North America, a Bordeaux style wine is called Meritage. Despite containing the same grapes as those you’d find in a Bordeaux, it can’t be called such — that would be an infringement on the French region, the designation of origin. I admit, I wouldn’t want anyone using my name either after hundreds of years building a prestigious reputation.

Like Bordeaux, you can find any combination of Bordeaux grape varietals in a Meritage, which are Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. I’ve yet to come across a white Meritage and apparently they’re rare, but the grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais.

I really enjoy a good Bordeaux and Meritage. We were talking about how much we love the two over dinner the other day with the bf’s family. Then somebody pronounced Meritage wrong…

How do you think you’re supposed to say it?

Most people assume that because of the French association, it’s said with a French accent, mari-taj. Not so. Meritage was coined in the United States back in the late 1980s and is a combination of the words merit and heritage. When you combine the two, meritage rhymes with heritage. That’s how you pronounce it.

Next time you hear someone say mari-taj, you know they may not know as much as they led on (especially if they work at the store or are wine snobs). That’s OK. But if you want to set any wine snob straight, you can always direct them to this blog post!

Have a question? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet.

Ordering a Bottle at a Restaurant

bottle of red wineYou’re at a fancy restaurant and you’re the one who orders the bottle of wine. As the person who takes that initiative, it’s presumed you are the one who tastes the wine first.

Have you ever felt that uncertainty with what to do when the bottle arrives?

Do you often pass the initial taste on to someone else, fearing you’ll be “revealed” — that you actually don’t know what you’re doing?

Fear no more. Why? Well, first there’s no wrong way to accept the bottle, silly. And if the wine is fine, then in the end, whatevs, right? Having said this, though, tradition has been in place for years for good reason and I’ll explain why below. Follow these five steps and in not too long, you’ll look like a wine connoisseur.

Step 1 – Look then nod.

When the bottle arrives at your table and you’re presented with the it, don’t nod right away. I know many of us do that without even really looking at the bottle. Now imagine, what if you nod at the bottle and it happens to cost twice as much as the one you actually ordered? Hell no, don’t want that to happen! So, look, really look and then nod only if the server brought the right bottle.

Step 2 – Take a quick sniff.

This is a preliminary sniff and you’ll catch anything “off” immediately. It’s a quick way to eliminate the next step if the wine in that bottle is bad. Don’t be afraid to put your nose in the glass.

Step 3 – Tilt the glass then look.

After you smile and nod, (it’s always nice to smile) indicating that the wine is what you ordered, the server then opens the bottle and pours a little out for you to taste. Most people will just take a sip and nod again, which is perfectly fine if you like what you taste! BUT, if you want to look like you know a thing or two… Hold the glass by the stem and tilt it in the light or candle. Are there sediments? Unless you’re ordering an expensive bottle, there usually isn’t. Does anything look peculiar to you? Hopefully not.

Step 4 – Swirl and take a good sniff.

The easiest way to swirl is to have your glass on the table, hold it by the stem with your fingers and swirl. The act of swirling the wine in the bowl of the glass releases the fragrances of the wine and you can often smell what you’re going to taste.

A rookie mistake is to hold the bowl of the wine glass. Your hands emit heat which effects the aroma and taste of a wine. It’s the same science that explains why chilled red wine isn’t as pronounced.

Step 5 – Sip, swoosh, swallow.

Now the fun part! Make sure you let in some air after your sip and move the wine around in your mouth. You will almost all the time taste what you smell. If the wine is good, nod, smile and give the go ahead to your server to share it with your companion(s)!


Have a question or comment? Leave it below!