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Column: Common mistakes beginner wine drinkers make

Do you do any of these five things when drinking wine?
Taking pictures of every wine you taste can help you remember good wines. Tony recommends trying Chateau Croix Mouton 2020 in this week's column.

Many people enjoy wine and some people ask me for advice on wine appreciation.  I always tell them the most important thing about wine appreciation is to have fun and enjoy the experience.  However, I have observed a few common mistakes that beginner wine drinkers make.  So here are a few tips to increase your enjoyment of wines:

  1. Hold a wine glass by the stem, not the bowl –  the reason you want to hold a wine glass by the stem and not the bowl is because you might get fingerprints on the bowl and when you look at the wine, you might mistake marks you leave on the glass as an imperfection in the wine’s appearance. Also, for white wines, if you hold the wine by the bowl, you might warm the wine, and it is very difficult to swirl a wine holding the bowl (see tip below)
  2. Swirl a wine – whether you are drinking champagne, white wine, red wine or dessert wine, always swirl a wine before you smell and drink it.  Swirling a wine allows the wine to interact with oxygen, which will bring out the aromatics of the wine. Much of what we taste is affected by what we smell so aromatics will help you to pick out more flavours in a wine.  By swirling, I don’t mean just mini movements with your hand but vigorous circular movements to aerate the wine.  This ties into the tip below
  3. Do not overfill a wine glass – ideally, I suggest pouring wine at a level of two-fifth of the wine glass. Some people may be tempted to pour as much wine into a glass as possible but if you do this, you may not be able to hold the wine glass by the stem (since it is so heavy) and you will probably be more concerned about spilling a wine, so you won’t swirl the wine as much.  While filling a wine glass up fully will help you drink wine faster, it will not allow you to appreciate the wine as much, in my personal opinion.
  4. Chill your red wine slightly – wine drinkers tend to serve red wines too warmly.  Slightly chilling a red wine enhances the aromatics and makes the wine more vibrant.  The ideal temperature for serving red wine is somewhere between 18 to 20 Celsius and many indoor settings have a higher temperature than this optimum temperature.  I suggest putting red wine in your refrigerator for five to 10 minutes before serving the wine.   
  5. Take a photo of each wine you drink – how many times have you loved a wine you tasted at a friend’s place or at a restaurant, only to forget the name of the wine the next day?  The easiest way to remember wine is to take a quick photo of the wine label. 

My wine recommendation for this month: is a great value Bordeaux that just came out in BC Liquor Stores: Chateau Croix Mouton 2020.  The label changes slightly each year but for the 2020 vintage, a bright new red design has been created. It is a 100-per-cent Merlot wine but unlike some higher-priced Bordeaux wines, this wine is ready to be enjoyed right away.  Priced at $33.99. Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is the Richmond News' wine and food columnist. He is a lawyer by day, and a food and wine lover by night. Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.