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The ‘posturing’ of wine drinking: the techniques (I)

Christmas is coming and we will all sit round the table with friends, workmates and, of course, our family. Wine, that wonderful product, will be the subject of conversation at some point and in this post we invite you to discover a few basic notions so that you can participate with confidence. We are not encouraging you to ‘throw caution to the wind’ and try and look like an expert at a table where most of the people are your friends or close relations: “A liar is sooner caught than a cripple”, as such, firstly, it is advisable to be prudent. Secondly, but no less important, whatever you say about wine, you should do so with confidence. Here follows a little summary of the techniques and gestures that we should take on board in order to guarantee the right ‘pose’.

  1. The glass: the way you hold the glass is fundamental. We must do so delicately but also decisively. We hold it by the stem or by the foot, never by the bowl or using our whole hand, but by gripping it between our thumb and index or middle finger. If we have to serve the wine, we only pour a small amount, approximately a couple of fingers.
  2. The colour: it is not necessary to lift the glass above our heads to appreciate the hues of the wine at a dinner with friends. However, if there is a white tablecloth, you can take a moment to discretely tilt your glass against the white background, and even make a comment such as: “the wine is very consistent, there’s not a trace of oxidation” (oxidised white wines display a more yellowish colour and reds become more tile red) if appropriate.
  3. Swirling the wine: this a fundamental gesture which, you may have noticed, all wine lovers do in order to help the wine reveal its aromatic palette. It must be done carefully and, if you do not have the knack, we advise you to swirl the glass on a surface (the table) using oval-shaped movements both decisively and delicately at the same time (practice beforehand if necessary). After swirling, raise your glass to your nose and appreciate the aromas.
  4. Smelling: we have smelt the wine by introducing our nose right inside the glass. In the case of the vast majority of reds, we can detect aromas of red fruits, which are more intense (fruity) the younger the wine is. If we know that a reserva or a wine which has undergone a long ageing process has been opened, we will also detect woody aromas. ‘Complexity’ and good ‘blend of fruit and wood’ are short but adequate definitions to guarantee that you make the right impression.
  5. Sipping: when drinking, little by little and not swallowing the entire glass at once, of course, we must keep the liquid in our mouth and discretely move it around. If we want to ‘go for it’, we push the liquid to the tip of our tongue and, discretely, even though it makes a little noise, draw in some air a couple of times. This is what wine tasters do in order to intensify the flavours in their mouth. If you have embarked on such ‘posturing’ bear in mind that you cannot conclude this gesture with a simple “it’s delicious.” You should take a little risk and, without elaborating too much, use words such as “complex wine”, “balanced”, “fruity”, “delicious in the mouth”, “the wood is very well blended”, etc.

Bear in mind that we are talking about a product that is capable of generating numerous different sensations for many people. If you are cautious and show confidence, both in your gestures and in what you say, your fellow diners will probably think that you know about wine and that you are not annoying, because wine can be the subject of discussion and conversation, but unless you are surrounded by genuine wine lovers (if that is the case, you are better off listening), there are surely many other more important topics to talk about.

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