This week, my top three tips for getting more enjoyment out of wine.
One of the first things rookie wine writers feel obliged to do is to point out that the e9 bottle you are drinking only contains 37 cents worth of wine. I wish they wouldn’t. Nothing’s more certain to sunder the harmonious marriage of Chilean Chardonnay and Bombay Pantry take-away than the revelation that the wine exudes a bouquet of packing cases, airplane fuel and the taxman’s greasy suit. Still, spending a few euro more does get you a nicer gargle. I’m often approached by ladies who say “My husband likes wine. What can I give him that will enhance his enjoyment?” They mention a sum, invariably not enough to build a cellar so I end up intoning “Lever corkscrew, decanter, thermometer…” What a cop out! Absolutely the best advice would be “Money. Give him a fiver a week, help him drink better.”
Get some decent glasses. First, try putting 6 odds-and-sods in a row, pour the same amount of wine into each glass and sample. I guarantee you’ll be amazed, sometimes you wouldn’t believe it’s all the same wine. Afterwards, the temptation to head for Mitchell’s and buy six of every Riedel grape-specific glass will be nigh irresistible. In reality all you need, unless you are going to get very, very anoraky, is a set of stem glasses you can fill a third of the way up with wine and still leave twice that amount of head space for the bouquet to come whuffing up. Bowl shape? Imagine a big egg with the top cut off. Nice thin glass, no horrible rolled rims. Buy Riedel if you must – their Vinum Chianti glass at around e20 a throw is a great all-rounder – but there are perfectly adequate glasses to be found in Dunnes or Roches.
Adopting Tip Number 3 won’t cost a cent unless you’d care to make a donation to the Ernie Whalley Fund for Penniless Wine Scribes. Golfers talk about the ‘inner game’ by which they mean adopting the psychological karma that will enable them to swing smoothly from the lst tee and progress to the 18th, coping along the way with bad shots and bad luck. Likewise the confident wine drinker will have shucked off prejudices; be well able to assimilate new experiences; be capable of coping with wine snobs, aggressive bluffers and the odd corked bottle. Get the ‘inner game’ sorted and you’ll feel more comfortable with a glass of wine in company.