Think Like a Wine Connoisseur

Menu – check, décor – check, entertainment – check, wine – well?? It can be intimidating preparing the wine portion of a dinner party when there is always at least one self-proclaimed wine expert in the mix.

To ensure your next dinner party success (on the wine front at least) the team of sommeliers at Somm Hospitality Enterprises in Stellenbosch, shared some essential wine tips with Come Dine With Me South Africa fans, to get you started and thinking like a connoisseur.   The most important tip from sommelier Joakim Blackadder of Somm, “the first rule of wine is there are no rules, it’s all about the enjoyment.”

  1. Great wine deserves great glassware. Generally the thinner the glassware the better the tactile experience of the wine.  Go for medium sized glassware, tulip shaped and preferably stemless if you think things might get rowdy. Ensure your glassware is free from dishwasher residue and air out if they have a musty cupboard smell, all of which can affect the taste of the wine.
  2. More is better. Not necessarily in quantity but in range – there are so many different varieties of wine to choose from be brave and experiment.
  3. Serve it blind – the wine that is! Invest in some bottle socks or decant the wine. Relying on taste alone offers your guests an opportunity to enjoy the selection without reservation.
  4. Don’t buy expensive wine. At least not in their first year. Great wine needs time to integrate, soften and open up. If you’re looking to splurge buy back vintages directly from wine farms or buy your favourites today and cellar it.
  5. All wines can benefit from a little time to breath. Lighter whites can be served straight from the bottle or, if the smell is slightly musty, let it stand in a decanter for approximately 15 minutes before serving. Richer, more full bodied whites, can benefit from up to an hour or two decanting while a young, tannic, expensive red, can be decanted up to three or four hours before serving.
  6. Serve at the correct temperature. If a wine is too warm or too cold, it loses its flavour balance making it substantially less enjoyable. Average room temperature is warmer than an ideal serving temperature.  Ideally lighter whites can be served at fridge temperature, the fuller and wooded whites a little bit warmer around 10 degrees while the lighter reds are flavourful when served slightly chilled at 16 degrees and the full-bodied reds are at their best at 18 degrees.

Serving Suggestions:

  • If you serve multiple wines, try to avoid continuing with a wine that is lighter than its predecessor.
  • Lighter, unwooded and fruitier whites such as sauvignon blanc and some versions of chenin blanc works well with fresher and lighter dishes, such as salads.
  • Lighter reds with lower tannin, such as crunchy cinsault and elegant pinot noir can be paired with a broad variety of food from tuna to milder red meat, and especially spicy dishes, such as a curry.
  • Full-bodied reds with tannin, such as cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and many blends, are mostly geared towards heartier dishes such as red meat, game and stews. These wines often overpower delicate foods but can be enjoyed with milder cheeses.
  • Dessert time – consider including a South African sweet wine to the menu. Noble Late Harvest wines often have a beautiful balance between sweetness and acidity. Ensure your dessert is not substantially sweeter than the wine.

Source: Come Dine With Me South Africa. Image: Pixabay

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