COLUMN WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
I’m delaying my summer wine recommendations by one week so I can revisit a topic that elicits the most responses from me — to emails and to questions at events. And that is the question of hosting a wine tasting in your home or around the barbecue.
So let’s just chat about this before I start bombarding you with an array of quaffing choices next week.
I’ve devoted many columns to the “how to” aspects of wine but many have told me what additional information they need to know especially since the “home wine tasting” has become so popular. One of the most common questions I’m asked is: “How much wine should I buy for our wine tasting party?” Well, a 750 ml bottle contains 25.4 ounces of wine and you really shouldn’t pour your guests more than a 3 ounce serving of each wine. So in every 750 ml bottle you’ll have enough wine for 8 people. I recommend owning at least 1 dozen white wine and 1 dozen red wine glasses. Give your fellow tasters just one of each glass, and use a pitcher of water and a bucket to empty and rinse the glasses between wines. This eliminates the need for a different glass per wine. Two glasses per person are all you’ll need — a 12 ounce for reds and an 8 ounce for whites. Because red wines take longer to reveal themselves, and need a bit more swirling and sniffing, they’re served in the larger glasses. The glasses should be pretty basic, no fancy colors or designs, but if possible try to find glasses that taper in at the top to capture the aromas and bouquet of the wine. A flute shape glass is essential for bubbly. The flute with its narrow opening, is the perfect glass for serving fizz, because the bubbles stay in tact thanks to its narrow opening. As for how much you should spend on your glasses, well go to a discount store.
Be sure to give each guest a list of the wines they’re served, so you can compare notes when you’ve finished tasting. When we swirl, sniff, examine and then taste a wine, we’re examining it to make sure it looks healthy — clean and clear. If you see cloudiness, it could mean the wine is in need of some medical attention. Small colorless crystals on the bottom of some white wines are called tartrates and are perfectly harmless.
When we swirl the wine we release the aromas which have been sleeping restfully in the bottle. Take a good look at the way the wine trickles back down the side of the glass after it has been swirled. If it leaves long tears or streams on the glass these are called “legs,” meaning the wine is quite viscous and fairly high in alcohol and sugar.
When we sniff the wine we again want it to be fresh, and even if you’re not a wine expert you’ll know immediately something is wrong.
You should have some food at your tasting — not a lavish banquet. Keep it simple. For example, French bread, two or three cheeses — nothing too spicy — and some crackers and fruit. It’s always a terrific idea to ask your guests to bring along the appetizers — patés, dips, cold pies. A little slurp of each wine, lots of nibble, good company … and voila! Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining