You’re at a holiday party or dinner, and the conversation has turned to wine. The person you’re talking to loves it. You want to keep the conversation going, but you have nothing more than a basic understanding about the subject. What do you do?
Of course, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your acquaintance, neighbor, distant family member, colleague, etc. But don’t panic when the wine is passed around the table. Here are a few simple steps to make it seem like you know what you’re talking about.
Act Composed and Confident
If you want to appear knowledgeable about the wine in front of you, you need to play a convincing act. Confidence is the key to this entire conversation. Avoid fidgeting or glancing frantically for the exit.
Understand the Basics
- Aroma — what smell the wine has, like raspberry or lavender
- Acidity — how tart the wine is
- Body — what texture the wine has in your mouth
- Dry — a wine that doesn’t taste sweet
- Vintage — what year the grapes were grown
Several of the above definitions, like “acidity” and “body,” are characteristics that describe how the wine tastes. If you want to go more in depth with your opinion of your wine, you can read Wine Folly’s list of common wine descriptions here.
If Necessary, Let Others Carry the Conversation
As you’re talking with the guests around you, figure out how much they know about wine. If they seem much more knowledgeable, ask questions that will let them direct the conversation. Add your own commentary onto someone else’s opinion to appear like you know what you’re talking about.
There’s no harm in borrowing information about the wine in front of you, either. If you happen to bring a bottle of wine (like those from Virginia wineries) to the party, pull phrases from the descriptions listed on the vineyard’s website. You could also pick an award-winning wine and discuss what made it so acclaimed.
Swirling your wine glass is major act in your sommelier charade. In order to do it like the professionals, hold the wine glass by the stem, smell the wine, then swirl it gently for a few seconds to identify the aromas.
Don’t Overdo It
If you’re not careful, people may start to suspect that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Stick to the basics. Don’t try to order a wine you can’t pronounce (like Shiraz, Gewürztraminer, or Sémillon), don’t reveal all of your interesting wine facts at once, and don’t name every single grape you can think of.
Thinking of Starting Your Own Winery?
Virginia’s countryside has plenty of vineyards available for sale. If you’re interested in producing your own wine and expanding your knowledge of the subject, we can help. Call us at 703.966.9480 and we can help you find the right property.