Wine, Food, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3 Ways To Hold A Wine Glass: The Right Way, The Wrong Way, And The Way You're Doing It

Keep you hands on the stem
where I can see them!

One of the comic and frustrating things about the wine world is trying to figure out if you're doing it right or not. People wonder if they're hurting their wine by not letting it breathe. Wine lovers know they're being judged by what they like and don't like - the wine world is not alone in doing this - and if they're drinking the right wine or not.

Most of the time, no matter what you do, you're left feeling like you're doing it wrong. Even something as simple as holding a wine glass.

Since I essentially hold a wine glass while talking for a living, this glass handling question comes up a lot, and it's fair to say I am pretty familiar with all the different ways our species has developed to get wine into our mouths.

The main question is, should you touch the glass or only handle the glass by the stem? And doesn't it warm the wine up when you touch the glass and mess up its otherwise perfect temperature?
Much maligned, much smudging

There's no question, you could warm up a glass of wine by cupping the wine in your hands and conducting your body temperature through the glass. I'm not sure a lot of this happens when you just pick a wine glass up normally, but one thing that does happen is smudging and smearing. If you're a visually oriented person, this can mess up your whole visual field.

If there is a good technical reason for handling the wine glass only by the stem, this is it, to preserve the clarity of the glass. And if my wife didn't hold her glass this way, how would I be able to tell our wine glasses apart?

The Claw - pompous, unbearable,
I do this sometimes
Finally - and most off-putting of all the ways to hold a wine glass - The Claw, where you clasp the glass firmly by the base and hold on for dear life.

I have to confess, I do tend to fall into The Claw from time to time. Maybe it's my rheumatism acting up, but I need some variety after an hour or so, and I find myself clamped down like this sometimes, and I apologize to everyone who's had to witness it.

I know you're wondering, can that really be how I'm supposed to hold my wine glass? As always, the answer is, try all the different ways and do what works best for you.

Besides, what do you do when you confront a stemless wine glass?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Is It OK To Love Blended Wines?

Blending in
Sometimes a question that comes up in wine class is just a question.

What's the difference between Pinot Noir and Cabernet?  Where is Rioja located in Spain?  What makes red wine red?  These sorts of fact-based or detail questions can be relatively easy to answer, or at least easy to look up in The Big Book Of Answers (also know as The Oxford Companion To Wine), which we do any time we need to.

Now and then, wine class questions can get a little more complicated.  Saturday night during Wine 101: How To Taste Wine And Why, the conversation turned to blended wines, and someone asked, "Is it OK to love blended wine?" and the question surprised me a little.  Embedded within this question is the idea that somehow it's not OK to love blended wine, so I asked: what's wrong with blended wine?

You do the math
I learned - in no uncertain terms - that the majority of these wine lovers, even at the beginning of their wine educations, had picked up the notion.that blended wines are cheaper, lower quality, just generally not as good as wines that are made from one grape.  Truth is, some of the planet's most famous, most expensive, most sought-after wines - Bordeaux, Chianti, Rioja, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and more - are blended wines, and have been for a long time.

The short answer is that it is OK - more than OK, really - to love blended wines.  Your taste is never wrong, and whatever wine you love, that's exactly what you're supposed to be doing.