Everyone knows all moms like wine, right? Nope. Not every mom likes wine. Just the awesome ones.
I know generalizations are stupid, but when it comes to mom stuff – I am a walking stereotype. I love wine. I also wear yoga pants way too much and think I gave birth to the most gorgeous beings to ever grace the earth. I have no shame. I’m here to help you embrace you mom-self by teaching you a little bit about wine.
I spent over 20 years of my life as a bartender in dive-y bars and a waiter in fancy restaurants. This has given me a unique set of skill sets: I can fancy a cocktail out of anything in your liquor cabinet, teach you what silverware to use first at a fancy dinner party, tie a respectable knot in a tie, tell a good story, emasculate jerks, and drone on endlessly about wine. I’ll happily teach you how to accomplish all of the above but today I’d like to talk about wine.
If you like it – it’s fine.
The most important thing to know about wine is – if you like it – it’s fine. Wine snobs are stupid.
What is the deal with Champagne?
Champagne is sparkling wine. You can only call a sparkling wine “Champagne” if it’s made with grapes from the Champagne region of France. Cava is also sparkling wine – it’s from Spain. Prosecco is sparkling wine from Italy.
When you are opening a bottle of sparkling wine, put as much pressure on the cork as you can, while still removing it. You want to avoid the big pop and splashing of wine everywhere because a) you lose some wine, and b) it flattens the sparkle.
What’s with the swirling and smelling?
You swirl the wine to release the scent. When “testing” a wine in a restaurant, you are generally just making sure a wine hasn’t been tainted by a bad cork. Look for the smell of wet cardboard or mildew. This means the wine is “corked” – i.e. the wine has been tainted by a chemical in the cork that causes wine to taste like crap.
There’s nothing wrong with screw caps.
Screw caps do not indicate that a wine is cheap or bad. Don’t be ashamed of the screw cap! Many wineries are recognizing that there is not an endless supply of cork in the world. Also, the absence of cork means its less likely for the chemical reaction that causes “corked” wine to happen.
What people mean when they say dry, buttery, earthy, blah blah blah…
If you are around people who are talking about wine, and you are not comfortable talking about wine – you may feel like you’re in a club with a secret handshake that was never shown to you. I’m going to show it to you.
Talking about wine is easy. Smell it. What do you smell? Fruit? Explain what fruit you detect. Dirt? Call it “earthy.” Flowers? Describe it as “floral.”
Taste it. Does it make the taste buds in your tongue pucker up? It’s “dry.” Does it stick to the wall of your mouth? It’s “tannic.” Does it feel heavy on your tongue? It has a good “mouth feel.” Does it actually taste like butter? It’s “buttery.” Easy peasy.
If you’re not a rich person, don’t worry about choosing the cheapest bottle of wine on a list.
If you are in a restaurant, and you are not a baller – there is no shame in choosing a cheap bottle of wine. The restaurant mark-up is ridiculous, we’re talking 300% or so. As a person who was in charge of purchasing and pricing wine for a very long time, I can tell you restaurants aim to pay for their bottle on the cost of one glass of wine. That is, if the bottle costs them eight bucks – you pay eight dollars for the glass and probably around $30 for the bottle. At least.
(photo: Getty Images)