Gents, while the days of ordering for your lady on a date might be a thing of the past, you shouldn’t be a total slouch when it comes to picking a good wine. With wine now being a “thing” – the tastings, tours, wine-themed restaurants – it’s easy to be overwhelmed, not know the difference between the numerous wines, or both. This blueprint, courtesy of Osvaldo Pena, a sommelier from New York Vinters in downtown Manhattan, will help you navigate the racks at your local liquor store or impress your date the next time a wine list comes your way.
There’s more to red and white than meets the eye. Did you know that reds come in shades of purple, ruby, garnet or tawny? While whites come in shades of lemon, green, gold, amber or brown? According to Pena, New York Vinters resident magician and one of the boutique shops teachers, a wine’s clarity makes a difference in what you taste. A wine that’s bright and clear is a better quality, while one that’s dull or hazy isn’t as well made. Specifically, a wine’s clarity can tell you about what kind of grape was used, how old it is and even the conditions it was grown in. If a wine is bright and rich, you’ve got a winner. If it looks a bit cloudy the quality isn’t as high.
Before you take a sip, look deeper. How pale, deep or opaque a wine looks also says a lot about it. “Take your wine and hold it up against the light and look at a piece of paper,” said Pena. “If you can see the words on the paper through the glass, then it’s clear,” which means you’re dealing with a young white (they tend to be darker if they’re older) or an old red (they appear brighter over time).”
If you want to know how much alcohol is in your wine, stir it around your glass and notice how long it takes to run down the sides (or what experts call “legs”). If it runs quickly, there’s not much. If it goes slow, you’re in for a potential bender.