Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five Secrets to Serving Wine with Style!

Networking, Women and Wine is a group created to help all women see the power they have in themselves. Wine tasting brings us together because the metaphor of wine describes us so well. As we women we display a unique a blend of traits, and we are all individual.

Perhaps you're ready to have a holiday party this season. Networking, Women and wine can help. We don't want the process of serving wine to be intimidating. These tips will give you the edge you desire!

1) The right glass: Now I’m not advocating you go out to the mall and buy 10 Riedel glasses, but the right glass does make a difference, and it’s not just presentation. Here’s why. When a wine is opened, oxygen begins its work of breaking down the structure of the wine and enhancing the aromas and flavors. This living breathing thing called wine begins to interact and the dance begins!

One of the most satisfying ways to understand wine is through your nose. Since we all taste via the sense of smell, making the most of this important step will put you on your way to being a wine aficionado. The wine needs space to release these aromas, and a glass which is large enough to allow those aromas to intensify is best. First, smell the wine without swirling. You will get one aroma. Now swirl, releasing the molecules and mixing the wine with air. Another sniff and you’ll get something completely different. Now no sissy sniffs. It’s time to get your face in there and breathe deeply. One trick is to put your hand over the glass as you swirl, and then move your palm aside just enough to allow your nose in. It’s fun!

2) The right temperature: Most of us Americans like our beverages cold. Milk, for example, is wonderful when it’s spiked with ice cubes and placed in a frosted glass. When served with cookies, only you can describe the ecstasy. But don’t confuse cold with serving wine.

If you’ve ever bought a bottle of wine, especially white, and then opened it at home and found it to taste flat and lifeless, it’s not the wine’s fault or the vendor. If you’ve had it in the fridge right before opening, it’s your fault. Just as you would never eat a frozen cake, wine is something that must be at the right temperature to release all of its flavors. Now you won’t get tarred and feathered if you’re one of those folks who adds ice to your wine, (shudder!) but give it a try at the right temp and see the difference it can make.

Here’s the EASIEST way to serve wine correctly. Take the white wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving. And put the red wine in 20 minutes before serving. You’ll chill the red down just enough and warm the white up just perfectly. Ideal serving temperatures will be posted on our blog.

(Tip, you can store opened red and white wines in the fridge to make them last up to three days. Keep them sealed airtight!)

3) Tasting the wine thoroughly: Another fun element of wine tasting is how much noise you can make and still be invited back to the party. As we’ve mentioned, the tongue doesn’t do all the tasting, it’s the nose that gives us most of our enjoyment.

Here’s how to do it. Take in a good amount of wine in your mouth. Let it sit on the tongue, all over your mouth. Let it sit there for 5 to 10 seconds. Swallow and breathe in. See how much more complex wine can be? Now try taking in a sip of wine, and then try and breathe air into your mouth while the wine is there, using your mouth and nose to inhale. Swallow and then enjoy the explosion again!

From we quote: “Smell and taste are the chemical senses because their receptors are stimulated by chemical molecules, rather than by energy from light, pressure, or sound. As little as one molecule in a million may be detected by the nose, but it takes a minimum of one part per thousand to stimulate the tongue. As sensitive and accurate as this organ is, relatively few people ever realize its potential for sensory enjoyment by learning how it works and the language of smells. Professional food and wine tasters and perfumers use analogies to common experience to describe aromas. Experts are those that practice and use their sense of smell most frequently.”

4) Pairing and sharing: There are really no rules that you can break in the world of wine. Many tell us to simply buy and drink the wine we like, and pair with abandon. They’re trying to sell you wine, I’m trying to elevate your experience. With that in mind, some rules, when followed, will allow you a much more significant experience with your wine. Before you go back to drinking only your cold Rieslings and Chardonnays, consider the logic we’re going to share.

Many people talk about the fact that they only like sweet wines. Reds are too intrusive and odd. But when you discover the tasting, smelling and texture of wine, your mouth begins to convince you otherwise. Wine can bring out the tastes of food, cleanse your palate and make you glad you have a nose! Wine is meant to be consumed with food. In many countries the thought of sitting with just a glass of wine would seem as silly as eating a meal without a plate. They’re meant to go together.

Wine is comprised of chemicals that are described in many ways. Two of the most significant are the acidic level and the tannic level in wines. Tannins are the sharp, dry feeling on your tongue, like when you eat a ripe banana and your tongue feels like sandpaper. Acidic levels are the tartness. Learning to blend, mostly the acidic level, with the flavors and the textures of your food is key to enjoying both in the right way.

Okay, this is getting complicated. Let’s simplify. You can begin to determine the right pairings by thinking ‘like goes with like.’ Lush foods with lush wines. Fruity and spicy food with fruity and spicy wines. Peppery foods with peppery wines. Earthy wines with earthy foods. These basics can get you started. There are literally hundreds of Internet resources for helping you pair food and wine. But please, by all means pair!!!

5) Ask everyone about their experience!: True, if you’re swallowing and someone starts talking to you, it could cause a mess if you try and reply. But I am a firm believer in making the wine a center of the conversation. First, it’s a good ice-breaker with new people. Wine is so personal, and it’s a good way to get people to move towards a more emotional experience.

Describing the flavors is fun and entertaining and everyone learns something.
If you have a group of novice and/or experienced wine drinkers, or even a combination, you can still follow these suggestions. In fact, have a mini wine tasting session, exploring the flavors and aromas as described above. You’ll find that your guests leave with a new appreciation for wine and for their own ability to enjoy it!

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