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Wine 101: How To Trick People Into Thinking You're an Expert

Posted by Alexandra C. | Monday March 31, 201411 comments

True story: My friend and I were in New York City and we went to a very expensive, fancy restaurant. The type of place where a man with a little broom comes around to wipe the crumbs off your table between every course. It was kind of a #treatyoself situation. We sat down and took a look at the wine list (cause that's what you do at fancy places) and everything seemed like gibberish. It may have well been in French or German. Well, actually it was all in French and German and that just added to the confusion. When the sommelier came around to ask if we had any questions, we put on our very best 'fancy gentleman' faces and said 'yes, we'll take the riesling' as if we had a clue what that was.

In actuality, we just chose the second least expensive wine on the list as to appear not too cheap and hopefully gave off a vibe that we actually knew what the heck a riesling was. 

Now that I am a little older, I thought it was time I learned a thing or two about wine. As to avoid another embarrassing fancy restaurant situation. So, I took that same friend and we ventured out to iYellow Wine Club. We decided to take a class on rose wines, since my palette resembles that of a five year old's. 

The intro class gives you the perfect five steps to wine tasting that will fool anyone into thinking you're a total pro. I'm about to drop some serious wisdom on you. Next time you're out, follow these steps and impress everyone at your table. 


1. Sight 

Look at your wine glass. What's the colour like? Is it darker, lighter? Comment on the shade using words from Ralph Lauren's paint line. 

2. Swirl 

Tip your glass to the side and swirl the wine around, almost so that it spills out but DO NOT spill it (never spill wine). Tip your glass back up. This is called painting the glass. Now, watch as the wine falls from the edge down, those streaks are the legs. The legs show how high in sugar the wine is and therefore, how alcoholic it is. Long, thick legs = More sugar = made in warmer climate. 

3. Smell 

Sniff your wine. What does it smell like? Don't be afraid to throw random things out there. Smell rain? Smell metal? That's actually totally a thing. It's called minerality. It means the wine was produced in a rainy climate and the grape soaked up that scent. 

4. Sip 

You're supposed to sip when wine tasting. However, I prefer to gulp. How does the wine taste to you? It is sweeter or drier? What are the after tastes?

5. Savour  

Never drink on an empty stomach. I learned that the hard way. Savour your wine by pairing with cheeses. Sommelier, Taylor Thompson suggests pairing a sparkling wine with a soft brie. We also tried a heavily garlic aioli with chips. 

Are you a wine fan? 
More by Alexandra C.
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on September 24, 2016  ccranna  313 said:

I live on Vancouver Island and have gone on several wine tours both on the island and on the mainland (Fraser Valley). It amazes me all the local wineries in the area and how each of them have their own unique wines. This summer I visited Enrico Winery located in Mill Bay, British Columbia and sampled many of their fine wines. My favourite being the Ortega 2013, which won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in 2015. Most recently my daughter and I discovered Backyard Vineyards in Langley and thoroughly enjoyed the wine sampling complimented with a plate of hors d'oeuvres. One day we will get to the Okanagan where some of the best BC wines are made!

on February 14, 2016  MsDebz001  4,875 said:

I love wine

on April 22, 2014  DZilinski  407 said:

Any suggestions for an everyday table wine for dinner at home?

on April 01, 2014  imfeehily  8,865 said:

Love Icewine.

on March 31, 2014  flower  4,433 said:


on March 31, 2014  rachified  290 said:

@fredamans - What's your favourite bubbly? I'm looking for a good go-to bottle!

on March 31, 2014  fredamans  12,225 said:

I'm a wine drinker but hardly snobby enough to know what's what.... LOL... this will help. :-) I just drink what I like usually, which is champagne. :-)

on March 31, 2014  TashaCat  6,762 said:

Sorry just have to say this... the way wines are named drives me mental. There's no international standard. In uber-snobby France, they name them for the regions they come from like Chateauneuf de Pape, Cotes de Rhones, Champagne and these are trademarked so no-one else can use them. Unless you know wine, you are unlikely to know what grapes are used to make that 'typical' wine of the area. Some names (like ripasso - in Italy, or en lis in many regions) refer to a method in the winemaking. Then in Canada and Australia it's easier - because the wines are named for the types of grape varieties used - riesling, pinot noir, cab sauv, sauv blanc... so no matter where those are from at least you know that if you like that style you'll be pretty safe. Do they purposely try to complicate stuff?

on March 31, 2014  rachified  290 said:

This is so helpful! I'm teaching myself to get more into wine now that I actually enjoy the taste of it but I'm still so envious of the people that can blurt out such poetic commentary, such as it's "floral notes." This will definitely help me to fake it til I make it.

on March 31, 2014  TashaCat  6,762 said:

I like (not love) wine. I'm crazy for real Canadian icewine, tawny ports, and lol yes rieslings (preferably off-dry). I go wine tasting at wineries every year and do know a little - but wine snobs really bore me. To be honest, the info on legs above is not entirely correct - style, age, sugars, etc are components to legs but climate is not really a huge determinant.

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