How to Wine: But First…

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is sitting at a friend of mine’s house while we drink wine and talk about how to change the world or at least up the game. I think I always leave feeling empowered to do great things. And that’s the wine talking.

Last time we had this dinner/wine/infant fest(that’s people, in your late 20’s slash early 30’s, all of your friends seem to have babies), I started thinking about the wines we drank and how I wished we had opened the second bottle before the first. What does it matter, you ask? We drank the bigger wine first and made the second kind of subdued. Then I thought to myself, “Hey! Maybe some people want to know more about the order you should taste(or drink) wine!” And that’s brought us together today.

Believe it or not, there is a method to our wine-ness. The very basic rule of thumb is lightest to heaviest. We’re talking density here, not color. Most of the time you’d want to drink white wines before reds. Unless it’s sweet. Sugar will destroy your palate and add a sweetness to EVERYTHING else you taste. Sometimes it can make a rustic, earthy wine seem much fruitier than it is. Then, after you finish that wine, you’ll still have no idea what it really tastes like.

So here we are at fun dinner at a friends house and we’ve got 4 wines. A nice Cali Pinot Noir, a bold Cabernet, a crisp Pinot Grigio and a jammy Zinfandel blend. What to do, what to do?


Uhhh…. Wait, what?

Start with your Pinot Grigio. Typically they zesty and fresh with a light body. Easy drinking and gets you loosened up for some serious wino-ing. Next should be the Pinot Noir. These are the delicate flowers of the wine world. (Well, unless you’re drinking the super big ones like the Belle Glos Pinots) These tend to be lighter, fruiter reds with a very smooth finish.

Now here’s the real dilemma : Cabernet first or Zinfandel blend. They are both bigger wines than the first two. But which is the biggest? Go Cabernet first. Usually they have an elegant style with big red fruits and a slightly dry finish. Most of the time it’s a toss up on the depth of a wine unless you’ve had it before. You’re not going to ruin anything if you’re wrong. I promise. Go with your gut. Or whichever label is the most brutal.

Finish up with the Zin blend. They are famous for rich, jammy fruit and usually have a grape like Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, or even Merlot or Cab to bulk it up so that it has a huge mouth feel.

Other good rules:

If you buy and really nice, more expensive wine you’ve been eyeing, drink that first or second. As you drink more, the alcohol takes effect and your palate gets worn out. You won’t be able to taste everything that it’s showing you.

Having a bigger red at the end? Go ahead and open it up early so it can breath a bit. Oxygen can really open up a wine that’s not quite ready yet. That means more bigger fruit, complexity, and depth. I mean who has years to wait on wine to be ready, I’m ready now dammit!

Truly, you should always drink what ever wine you want, what ever way you want, when you want. Keep an open mind though, you never know what you’ll find.

As always if you have any questions, shoot me an email at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for new posts.


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