How many times have you wanted to order a bottle of wine with your fancy dinner but been dissuaded by the mere thought of the ritual of wine tasting?
More likely you've been struck by the idiot at the table next to you gargling his Merlot with bold superiority. Fearing your beacon of ignorance will shine as brightly as your neighbor's, (blowing bubbles through your nose usually gives it away) or, perhaps simply saddened by the emptiness of going through the motions, you sheepishly return the wine list to the waiter and order by the glass.
Fear not! There is a method to the madness. So drop the preconceived notions and put on your party dress. It's time to learn to play with the big boys.
Drum Roll, Please…
Wine tasting is easy when you consider its purpose is to make sure your particular bottle is suitable to drink. With today's technology, it is rare to find an uncorked bottle that has turned to vinegar or mold, but the ritual continues in spite of itself.
Nothing up my sleeve…
The waiter presents your bottle with the flair of a magician.
This is the time for you to read the label and make sure he has brought the bottle you ordered. Don't forget to check the year. As wine prices vary greatly, you might be surprised when the bill arrives at the end of the evening and the mistake comes out of your pocket.
Upon your approval, he performs the flawless opening and presents you with the cork.
Look at it. Sniff it. If you see or smell mold, send it back. Do you smell wet cardboard? Also a bad sign. I've sniffed a lot of corks in my day and have never, ever come across a bad one.
What do you think?
»Patrick in Mankato, MN holds monthly wine tastings with two of his friends. His advice for novice sniffers is to go with a visual. "A cork with a lot of seepage to the top will signify a wine that has been oxidized... a bad wine. A cork that looks 'seasoned' will have color, but not be colored to the top of the cork."