No one wants a meal or a night out (or night in!) to be marred by a less-than-ideal wine experience, whether it is down to a pairing that just wasn't quite right or a bottle that didn't seem to live up to expectations. Sommeliers are on hand to give you advice and help you to choose the very best wine, and you can always check out Vino Del Vida for more information, but there are some tips and tricks that they might just want to keep close to their chest.
Here are 7 Things Your Wine Sommelier Won't Tell You:
1. Just because a wine has a screw top doesn't mean it's not good
Once upon a time, a screw-top wine was seen as inferior - a second cousin to the cork top, if you like. Thankfully, those times have long gone, and it is time to abandon that stereotype - although you will find some sommeliers still believe it.
One of the benefits of the screw cap is that there is no chance of corkage or cork disease. Many long-standing wine producers are now turning to the screwcap, particularly those in Germany and Australia. There have even been occasional reputable French winemakers dipping their toes into the world of the screw cap, for example, the famous Château Margaux in Bordeaux. For fifteen years, some of the greatest wines of the castle have been kept in the cellars in a screw cap ready to see what the outcome is.
2. You don’t have to go to a wine shop to source the very best bottles
Of course, it is in a sommelier's best interests to tell you to visit a specialist wine store to pick a wine - it's their livelihood after all! However, what if we told you that you could pick up a pretty decent bottle from the local supermarket? Okay, so you probably won't benefit from expertise while you are filling your trolley with wine alongside chips and cookies, but it saves you traveling to somewhere different to pick one up, especially if you already know what you want.
3. You don't have to avoid white wine in the winter
White wine for summer, red for winter, right? WRONG! While it is generally thought that white is too light and crisp to enjoy in the colder months, it couldn't be any further from the truth. Next time the mercury drops and you are craving hearty, warming food, ditch the red and try an oaky Chardonnay or a rich Pinot Gris. They can certainly hold their own!
4. You don't have to stick to the 'drink red with meat and white with fish' rule.
To be honest, when it comes to wine, you are free to make up your own rules, but generally speaking, it is thought that red is for meat, white is fish. It does not have to be that way, however. Meaty fish dishes, such as salmon or tuna, are perfect with a light red, and there are plenty of whites which will stand up to a meat dish, particularly pork or chicken. You could even try pairing a good piece of steak with a white Burgundy or dry, aged Riesling.
5. You can be upfront about not enjoying a wine
If you are out at a restaurant, it is always advisable to try wines to make sure you will like it. This is much easier when it is available by the glass but is much more tricky when only available by the bottle. Don't be afraid to ask the waiter or sommelier which wine they recommend, and if you choose to go with their recommendation and don't like it, don't be afraid to tell them. A good sommelier will appreciate the honesty and take your feedback on board.
6. You don't have to spend a lot to get good advice
While it can be lovely to go out and blow a fortune on food and wine, for some people it is an occasional treat or something they have to do on a very tight budget. A good sommelier should respect your budget and never look down on you because of what you are spending. Tell them your budget at the beginning - there is a wine to suit pretty much every budget, no matter how big or small.
7. Your own tastes matter
Wine can be a snobbish field. There are lots of rules and guidelines to think about, and that's for a good reason - to help you pick the very best wine for the situation. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with throwing the rule book out of the window entirely and choosing a wine wholly based on your preferences - after all; you are the one who is going to drink it!