Can’t tell the difference between pinot noir and grape juice? To help you fake it ’til you make it on the Hong Kong holiday parties circuit we’ve put together a step-by-step wine tasting guide so you can pretend to be an expert in no time.
Step 1: Know Your Flavors
Wine snobs — ahem, enthusiasts — love to ascribe to wines all sorts of different flavors and aromas, and here’s an easy way to join the game even when you have no clue what they’re talking about. Reds are generally described with dark fruits, flowers and foods (think berries, dates, chocolate, coffee beans) while whites are described with light-colored fruits and foods (think pineapples, lychees, vanilla).
So… let’s practice. “This Bordeaux is hitting coffee on the nose and dates to finish. And is that chocolate I taste?” Perfect.
Step 2: Learn the Motions
Lift your glass by the stem when you’re ready to taste. Don’t cradle the glass: you don’t want to warm up the drink with your hands. Then, tilt the glass a 45-degree angle for a few seconds before returning it to its original upright position, letting the wine “run” down the sides as you do so. Comment on how thin/thick/watery/oily the wine looks to you — wine people call this the wine’s “legs.” It doesn’t really mean much but it sure makes you look smart!
So… let’s practice. “Wow, this wine sure is thin. It’s got legs for days!” You’re a natural.
Step 3: Stay Up to Date
Remember this tip when you’re tasting wines from around the world: New World wines (or those from North America, South America, Australia) are generally thought to be bolder, fruitier and easier to drink. Meanwhile, Old World wines (or those from Europe, like France and Italy) are said to be more complex, subtle, and more challenging on the palate.
So… let’s practice. “This must be an Old World wine — it’s as complex as Chinese-Hong Kong relations!” Smooth, really smooth.
Step 4: Follow Your Nose
Here’s how to up your snootiness factor in no time. If the wine smells sweet, strong and generally pleasing, chances are the wine people will deem the drink simple and obvious — too easy to understand. On the other hand, if the wine smells like sulphur, leather, tobacco, cat piss, or other unattractive scents, you might just be holding a complicated winner in your hands.
So… let’s practice. “Full-bodied, leggy, blonde and stinking of cat piss? Let’s order a case [that’s 12 wines, btws].” You’ve got this.
And remember: When in doubt, just disagree. Nothing says “I know what I’m talking about” like a tipsy contrarian.