10 Things Every 30-Something Should Know About Wine

Lauren Powell
PHOTO:

@the_wine_gallery

Let’s be honest, wine lists and liquor stores can be harder to navigate than an unfamiliar city without a map, which then leaves us feeling more basic than a white cotton tee. Which is why we can’t be blamed for ordering or buying our favourite drop on repeat, right?

Enter, The Wine Gallery—the online wine store that was created to take our wine-loving tastebuds on a new adventure. The genius new company, which can be best described as Spotify Discover for wine, is a subscription service which provides bottles of wine tailored to your preferred tastes and flavours. You simply sign-up on a monthly subscription, take a palate quiz and its expert team will send you suitable bottles to your door.  

Before you sign yourself up, The company’s founder, Banjo Harris Plane, has kindly shared his wine knowledge with us so we can start navigating, ordering, and swirling like a sommelier. Read on for the 10 things you need to know about wine now.

Grape Varietals

“First of all you have the buy the stuff. But which one? You can probably rattle off a few types, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc…that leaves only approximately 3,000 more! Each grape variety has a unique flavour profile and texture, which can also differ when it’s grown in different places. There’s really only one way to start noticing the differences—get tasting!”

French and Aussie regions

“Conveniently, the best place to start is our own backyard. Australia has a huge range of grape varieties and different climates, offering the full spectrum of wine styles. Learn the names of the major regions (Coonawarra, Margaret River, Yarra Valley) and what they’re best known for. Once you master that, shift your attention to France and do the same there (i.e. Bordeaux is known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). Do that and you’ll be miles ahead.”

Serving Temperature and Storage

“Keeping wine on hand for a last minute dinner party or a celebration is essential. Unfortunately, the Australian summer isn’t kind to wine. Wine bottles hate the heat so keep your wine somewhere cool (two bottles in the fridge at all times is my rule), or at the very minimum away from any direct light. The coolest cupboard in the house will do for short-term cellaring.

When it comes time to drinking, make sure the bottle feels warm or cool enough to drink. As a general rule, whites at around eight degrees and reds at around 15. Temperature can make a big difference to the flavours and textures you perceive.”

Correct opening procedure with a corkscrew

“If you’ve got a bottle with a screw cap, a crown seal (the same top as a beer), or a bottle of sparkling wine what are you waiting for! If not, pay attention. Use the knife on the corkscrew to cut underneath the second lip of the top of the bottle. Cut neatly all the way around and gently remove the foil. Insert the screw (known as the worm to some wine nerds) into the dead centre of the cork, twisting in gently. Rest the grip of the lever on the top of the bottle neck and gently manoeuvre the cork out. Slowly does it. Easy.”

 

Decanting

“Pouring wine into another vessel before a glass and then into your mouth may seem like a waste of time, but believe me, it can drastically improve many a wine. We decant wine for a number of reasons—to aerate the wine and ‘wake it up’, to raise the temperature, and to remove any sediment.

Aeration will give the wine a chance to breathe, and agitate the flavours so that they are at their best for their big day (when you drink them!). Some older wines can throw small (harmless) particles, as can wines that are stored in a fridge for too long. By decanting the wine gently into a decanter (or jug or vase or shoe—whatever is handy), you can remove these particles and ensure you don’t have to chew on them later.”

 

Glassware

“The size and shape of the glass you use matters. Perhaps not as much as the expensive Austrian glass companies would have you believe, but it certainly make a difference. It comes down to oxygen interaction, surface area, and aroma/flavour molecule agitation. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it. All it means is that by pouring your wine into a decent sized glass with a wide bowl and enough of a stem to hold properly, you’re going to get all the flavours the bottle has to offer.”

 

Swirl

“Ah, the swirl. The pretentious indicator of a wine bore. Or is it? The swirl isn’t just for effect. We’re back to the old surface area and agitation thing again. By swirling your glass of wine, you increase the surface area and introduce more oxygen into it, effectively waking it up. Flavours that would otherwise lie dormant can be coaxed into life with enough swirling. Just please, put your pinky finger down.”

The Beauty of Sparkling Wine

“Sparkling wine is often forgotten about in a discussion about fine wine, but is an essential in my household. Perfect for any sort of celebration, top quality sparkling wine can even hold its own against non-sparkling wines at the table. Think of the flavours of the wine and try to see that carbonation in the same light as the acidity—simply there to refresh your palate.”

 

Language

“In just about everything you read or hear about wine (includingthe  above) there will be terms, such as dry, length, breathe, that indicate wine is a living thing. Wine is a natural product, made from grapes, it evolves in the bottle and in the glass and eventually dies—either when you finish the bottle or you leave it in your cupboard for a decade too long. Some of this language can be a bit much, but there are a few terms worth getting your head around.

It’s just a drink (read: don’t preach about it). Enough talk, taste it. Don’t become one of those people at the party who loudly dissect the finesse of the acidity and the purity of the fruit—just drink the goddamn thing. Leave the posturing to professionals like me.”

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