Your intrepid liquor reporter was out on one of those newfangled Internet dates recently, when the strangest thing happened.
Now, we weren’t in one of those hoity-toity wine snob bars that your humble narrator has been known to frequent on occasion, but I think any establishment short of a tailgate party would have been shocked by the outrageous behaviour of my date.
Brace yourself, gentle reader, for what I am about to tell you may shock and repulse you. My date ordered a glass of cheap red wine and mixed it with Diet Coke. Oh the horror!
Perhaps sensing my thinly veiled air of contempt, my date felt compelled to explain that the 50/50 mix of red wine and Diet Coke is actually a legitimate beverage, and that she acquired a taste for it during a year of study abroad in Spain many years ago.
It turns out that this particular concoction is known in Spain as a Kalimotxo (pronounce the tx like ch), and has been popular in several European countries since the 1970s.
Your humble narrator was already familiar with another Spanish tipple known as Tinto de Verano (that’s Summer Wine for you Anglos), which is a mix of red wine and a local carbonated lemonade called gaseosa. This basically turned red wine into a red wine spritzer for those hot Spanish summers, and was enjoyed with lots of ice to keep it cold.
The Kalimotxo concoction of red wine and Diet Coke was a new one on me, and seemed entirely too lowbrow for a wine snob of my obvious culture and good breeding, so I did not agree to a second date with the misguided young lass who adulterated her wine with fizzy sugar water.
The remaining portion of the date mostly consisted of your humble narrator sternly lecturing the young lady on proper methods of wine consumption, which may indeed have contributed to the lack of carnality at the end of the evening.
To help you, the faithful reader, avoid similar embarrassing situations in the future, let’s go over some of the basics of ordering and tasting wine. These handy tips are useful at home, in classy drinking establishments, and even out on those Internet dates that your humble narrator seems to be having no luck with lately.
To begin with, let’s talk about holding the glass. Don’t be a bowl grabber! Your wineglass has a stem that is there for a reason. Holding the stem keeps your greasy fingerprints off the glass, and prevents the body heat in your hand from heating up the wine too quickly.
While we are on the subject of glasses, remember that different wines call for different glasses.
Red wines are most flavorful and aromatic, and need a large glass with a wide bowl, and preferably a tulip-like taper towards the top to concentrate the aromas. The large bowl allows lots of oxygen to be imparted while swirling the wine, which releases the rich flavenoids and esters from the wine for maximum enjoyment. Only fill your red wine glass about 1/3 full, leaving the rest of the glass available for swirling.
White wines can take a glass with a narrower opening, as the more delicate citrusy aromas need to be trapped to prevent them from dissipating. This is the type of glass you can fill halfway full.
Champagnes and other sparkling wines go best in a tall and skinny flute glass, so the giddy dance of the bubbles up the side of the glass can be enjoyed by all those watching. This is a glass you can fill 3/4 of the way full, as too much swirling will dissipate the bubbles.
Now that you have the wine poured and swirled about a few times, dip your nose into the glass and take a whiff. Much of the flavor on your palate is intranasal, so the volatile aromas coming off the wine contribute greatly to the taste.
Finally, take a sip and swish around it all around in your mouth to ensure the wine hits all the hits all the different taste buds on your tongue.
After swallowing, the wine will have a finish that remains in the mouth while the taste buds are still saturated. White wines tend to disappear quickly, while a lush red wine will have a finish that lingers like an attentive mistress.
So, now that you know how to do it, get out there and enjoy some wine!