Good news: you don’t have to be a pinkies-up sommelier to drink wine you’ll love. And if you’re anything like us, the encyclopedia-like info overload of growing regions and tasting notes can leave you scratching your head in conundrum. (What does “notes of leather” even mean!?) When all that really matters is uncorking the perfect bottles for your life’s best moments—like Sunday pizza—a few fundamentals can go a long way.
While Winc’s wine club takes out some of the major question marks, with personalized wine delivery and small-lot goodness, we know you have more questions. Well, ask away! We’ll help you dig up the answers right here. Below, a word from the experts on five of your most common inquiries.
1. Do I really need a wine cooler?
There’s a reason wine caves have been around, basically unchanged, for centuries: they’re dark, cool, and let wine bottles sit on their sides without interruption. It’s a wine’s perfect environment. While not totally necessary if you have a cooler (sub 70-degree) storage area, a wine cooler can be a really good idea. Red wine stores best in 50°F - 65°F temperatures, and anything higher than 70°F runs the risk of premature aging, or your wine getting “cooked.” — Sang Park, Wine Educator and Sommelier
2. Blends have been everywhere lately! Are single-varietal wines better than blends?
Blends are some of the most delicious and interesting wines out there. Similar to giving a painter more colors to work with, different grape varietals gives a winemaker more flexibility to create flavors and layers. For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon’s strength and tannin can be softened with a little Merlot, for an elegance that won’t knock you off your feet. Syrah can add a touch of smokey, peppery complexity. And while we love innovative New World blends, Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley have been blending with wonderful results for centuries, too. — Brooke Matthias, Associate Wine Director at Winc and Certified Wine Professional
3. What’s the deal with decanting?
There are two main reasons to decant a good red wine: If it’s too “tight” decanting lets it breath and opens up the flavors. And if it’s an aged wine, decanting removes unwanted residue. There’s nothing fancy about using a decanter, but here’s a few tricks: Before using, wipe the decanter with a microfiber towel to remove dust. When ready to pour, decant red wine about 30 minutes before serving. And after using, clean the decanter with warm water, without soap, to avoid soapy residue. Voilà! — Katie Owen, Advanced Sommelier with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust
Need a recommendation on where to pick one up? Head to CB2 for great quality decanters that won’t break the bank.
4. White wine often seems to be either too sweet, or too tart. What’s a good middle ground?
Moscato can be very sweet, while Pinot Grigio can taste too tart for someone who isn’t a fan of acidity. To strike a good sugar-acid balance, try on off-dry Riesling, Gewürztraminer, or a good Chardonnay. They’re less acidic without being cloyingly sweet. From the Winc portfolio, we’d recommend the 2016 Selected Works Chardonnay; it’s textured, tropical, with a tad of creaminess. The 2016 Honey Beast White Blend is another perfect middle ground, with lush stone fruit, honey, and vanilla. — Katie Owen
5. My friends run the gamut from wine lovers to total wine newbies. How do I make everyone happy?
Ah, the age-old dinner party question! We love serving something progressive and unique with friends, like the 2016 Funk Zone Red Blend—it has the individuality and quality to impress your a wine snob (it’s made in a classic French style), without being ostentatious or too heavy in the glass. Even a beer-drinker would appreciate Funk Zone’s fresh purity and fun. And while you’re opening a modern-style blend, it’s great to have a classic too, like a Bordeaux blend. These French beauties scream age-old excellence, but are usually medium-bodied and totally pleasant.