How to look at wine, how to smell it, how to buy it
How to look at wine
The first step in tasting a wine happens before you actually taste the wine. When the wine is first poured into your glass — before swirling it, smelling it, or sipping it — just look at it. The reason you look at the wine is to get a sense of its color, as a wine’s color can tell you a lot about the wine you’ll be drinking. When doing this, many people like to hold their glass of wine against a white background, as that helps you see the hue of the color more easily.
How to smell
When it comes to smelling wine, you really only get one or two good sniffs before your nose acclimates to what it’s smelling. After that, you won’t be able to notice any nuances, and you’ve probably missed your chance to say something like, “This smells of honeysuckle and lemon curd.”
To get the most out of those couple of sniffs, make sure you cover as much surface area as possible. The best way to do this is to sniff while making the sign of the cross over the liquid with your nostrils so you get the aromas from every angle.
How to buy
Look for wines that are out of fashion now, but will come back around because they’re good. Loire wines are out of fashion, but so what? Chenin blancs are undervalued—and muscadet is wildly undervalued. For French people, you say “muscadet” and they make a funny face because to them it’s no good. But if you like Chablis, you can like muscadet as well. You just have to find the right one. There are some awesome Beaujolais out there. You know what’s a great pick? Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco and Emidio Pepe, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. A great producer, a really good wine.