When starting out to drink
wines, you will soon discover that there is a great difference
of opinion amongst wine drinkers in what each has a preference
for. Do not be intimidated if you are a newcomer because there
are no set rules dictating popularity. Many people start out
drinking sweeter styles of wine before graduating to the dryer
types, and true wine lovers understand this. They will generally
encourage new wine drinkers to simply experience the pleasure
of tasting wines whatever their personal likes and dislikes
are. Therefore, one should never feel embarrassed at not "knowing"
how to drink wine, which is an all too commonly heard statement
here in Hong Kong. The most important thing to realize
here is that if you like a wine, then you should drink and
enjoy it, without being concerned in the least about others
opinions. With the passage of time and further wine
tasting, most people will experience a change of preferences
as their palate matures and adapts to different styles, as
wine drinking is very much a fun journey of experimentation
with different wines, from different regions and different
countries from all over the world. This is the great attraction
in wine drinking.
There are many very general
rules of thumb to go by when starting out with wine drinking,
which while not in any way necessary, do give you a good head
wines before fuller styles. This can quite often mean,
whites before reds. Because white wines can be more
delicate than red wines, this allows your palate to
appreciate the white wine before it is overwhelmed by
the “bigger” red flavours
||Young wines before older ones.
||Dry wines before sweet.
People get too worried by trying
to match wines with food, and, in general, you can enjoy any
wine with almost any food. Here are some hard to dispute generalizations
about the subject.
wines are suited to salads, fish and poultry. In other
words, white fleshed foods.
wines are a good accompaniment to vegetables and red
lighter wines with simple unspiced foods, which allows
the light food flavours to express themselves. Chenin
Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Pinot Noir, Grenache
and Burgundy styles.
weightier wines with heavier, more highly spiced dishes
which won’t overpower the food flavours but seek
to compliment them. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot,
Chardonnay and Semillon.
Here are some specific examples.
Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Pinot Noir. Generally
lighter styles of wines.
|Pasta and Pizza
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chianti, Shiraz,
Merlot. Depending on the style of dish it is possible
to match any wine with these dishes.
Oaked Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz.
|Fish and Chicken
Unwooded Chardonnay, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot
Noir, Merlot. Smoked foods require powerful wines.
|Pate and Cheeses
Foie Gras and Reisling go well together, as do Blue
Cheese and Sauterne. Good farmhouse cheddar is suited
to all wines. Stilton and Roquefort are difficult ,
because they are so powerful and salty, so Port is suitable
because it is very sweet and strong.
style wines are suited to desserts which are generally
sweet dishes themselves. People would be familiar with
“Icewines” and sweet “sticky whites”,
of which “botrytis affected” Reislings are
the best example, have come right back into popularity
recently. The balance between “acid and sweet”
is very suited to dessert. Chocolate based desserts
are suited to Port.
If you find
yourself in the situation of having to order wines at a classy
restaurant, the first thing not to do is stress. Be up front
if you want and admit you are not an expert. Ask your guests/friends
what their preferences in wine are i.e. red or white, preferred
region/country and start from there. Choose a grape variety
suited to the dish and you don’t have to go to the most
expensive to necessarily find the best. Expect the wine waiter
to ask you to sample a small glass of your selection to approve
the wine (the test is to ensure the wine is not “corked”
or “off”, which will result in a peculiar smell
and taste emanating from the wine. Don’t worry too much
about this because the chances of this being the case are
extremely small, as most outlets would have previously identified
these wines. A bigger risk is a wine that is “over the
hill” or past its best. Again, a reputable outlet will
not have such a wine on it’s list). From there on in,
simply relax and enjoy the wine and food, the company of your
friends and one of the best pastimes in the world.