Let’s face it, picking wine is hard!
This is especially true when you are bombarded with wine name and wine terminology that you will find that’s it is not only confusing and rather frustrating.
Doesn’t help either that Old world wine labels does not even contain grape name eg Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz. All you get is Bordeaux, Barolo, Chianti or Rioja.
For Old world wines (which means country like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany) named their wines based on their location as they believe the main contribution factor in making good wines is terroir (a term coiled on the harmony between soil, topography and climate). There are exception like Spain and Germany which you would still be able to get the grape name like Tempranillo and Riesling but majority it is still a lot of wines jargon.
As we pour through suggestion on the Internet on how to pick the wines, we realized that the wines selection online does not reflect the real selection available in Malaysia. This situation is pretty much like searching interior designs on pinterest and realized that most of the design is not available in Malaysia no matter how much you like to have it!
So far, the closest we have is Vivino but entry in Vivino is by individual and you pray hard that your wine selection is being reviewed in Vivino but most of the time, it is not. Bear in mind, the review in Vivino are by individuals and their review on the wines would never be you as everyone taste wine differently.
The good news is, in respond to the lack of reliable source to help pick out wines, About Wine has put together an infographic to assist you in this difficult situation.
Please feel free to share it out with friends especially to those poor lost soul who stand in front of the wine racks starring.
Have you ever walk into a wine shop and stared blankly at the vast wine labels?
How about feeling overwhelm by the different prices and different label designs?
How many of you ended up buying the same brand of wines again and again because you have picked not so nice wines before, hence it is better to stick back to what you have tasted?
A lot of times I bet when you face with the situation above, you would look for Uncle “G” aka Google for answers. However, in my experience, Uncle “G” answers may not apply so well to your situation because
- Most of the answers you managed to get are tailor made for the American or UK consumers
- It can get very technical e.g. you are bombarded with a list of grape/ wine name / region and by the time you are done, you are more confused than ever
- It gives Interesting suggestion on how to pick wines like for example, get a case?? What if I don’t like the wine?
- It would ask you to look at wine rating information like how many points and how many medals the wine have won but this may not work well either.
First of all, you need to understand how a wine is being rated. Wines are being rated by wine critics and each of them have different taste preference hence there is a high chance that you may not like the wine even though rating may be high.
At the end of the day, it gets even complicated that each wine shop has different selections and the wine labels are updated frequently and not to mention new wine labels coming out every year so how to pick wine like a pro then?
Like how you pick dishes in a restaurant, I can bet that the possibility of you, ordering a Malaysian dish from a Western theme restaurant is pretty low isn’t it, even though the Malaysian cuisine is listed on the menu. Why? Because it is not their signature dishes.
That is exactly how it is with wine, each country like a restaurant produces various type of selection but indefinitely there are those selection that is great that it became their signature grape or wine. By picking this signature wines, you have eliminated the chances of picking a lousy wines almost instantly.
So instead of pouring through endless webpages for the signature wines of each country, About Wine is proud to present the New World Wine Selection infographics.
P/S- At the end of the day, wine is something that you can master only by tasting, so be open, be adventurous and drink more to explore!
At some point of being a wine enthusiasts, you would indefinitely come in possession of a decanter or two. Let’s face it, decanters are beautiful and with them, wines just come alive and taste do good but when it comes to cleaning them, it can really leave you scratching your head.
There are various ways of cleaning a decanter but of all the method, personally I don’t prefer the method of using dishwashing liquid as we are never certain on whether any residues of the dishwashing liquid is still there after significant rinsing. Therefore, my recommended method of cleaning involved utilizing materials which you can easily find around home and does not involved chemicals.
Using crush ice and warm water is one of my preferred method. This method is highly effective as the crushed ice will easily agitate the inside of the decanter and scrub any stains away. Once the ice has melted, all you need to do is just simply pour the melted ice away.
Here are the steps to clean using crush ice and warm water
- Rinse the decanter with clean warm water to remove any liquid
- Top up the Decanter with warm water and leave to steep
- Place a handful of crushed ice into the decanter accompanied with half a cup of water
- Swirl the solution round slowly in a circular motion and repeat until the stains start lifting
- Repeat rinsing with warm water till clean
I would proceed to use this method instead if it involved some old stain in the decanter. We would use vinegar and salt. The vinegar would be a good solution to stubborn old stain.
Here are the steps to clean using vinegar and salt
- Rinse the decanter with clean water to remove any excess liquid sitting at the bottom
- Fill the decanter with lukewarm water and leave to soak
- Pour roughly 1.5cm – 2cm of salt into the decanter accompanied by twice as much white wine vinegar.
- Place your hand over the top of the decanter and shake well.
- The solution should be changing colour as the stains are lifted and depending on how tough the stains are you may need to repeat this step
- Rinse with lots of warm water to ensure the vinegar smells goes away
For those with are more incline to audio and visual, please to find below a video on how to clean a decanter.
Although a majority of wines comes in screw caps now but there are a handful of wines which are bottled using the traditional corks. There are of course many types of wine opener including the popular rabbit ear and the wing corkscrew but if you would like to open a bottle professionally like a sommelier, there is only one type of corkscrew which is the sommelier opener or known also as the waiter’s friend.
The major reason why it is called a waiter’s friend is because it is reliable and can be carried around the restaurant easily in the pocket. Some said that it can get quite difficult to master but trust me it is definitely worth it.
Each sommelier opener has a retractable knife, a fulcrum, a handle and a worm. The retractable knife is first use to remove the foil from the tip of the bottle. This can be done by holding the bottle still and turn it so that the knife can rotate around the bottle.
Once the foil is removed, the cork is exposed then follow the below steps
- Insert the worm and rotate the worm all the way through about six and a half times twist
- Position the top lever of the fulcrum to begin the cork extraction until halfway out
- Use the bottom lever of the fulcrum to remove the cork completely from the bottle
- Remove the cork extracted from the worm
Attached here below is a link for a video on how to use a sommelier’s knife by wine educator Marnie Old for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
If you are like me who drinks wines on a regular basis, it is good to invest in a sturdy waiter’s knife as it definitely can last.
During one of my wine tasting event, I was asked by one of my wine members of this one peculiar question which caught my attention. As a matter of fact this question had been asked a few times by many other wine members which I felt people don’t really know the difference.
This is because aerating doesn’t necessarily have to happen via decanting and wine drinkers don’t necessarily decant in order to aerate. Confused right?
To me, there are a few factors to consider on whether to use a decanter or an aerator
- The type of wines
Wines that benefit from aeration or decanting includes young tannic wines such as cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and zinfandel. Doing either decanting or aerating will open up the wines when oxygen is able to mix with the wines as this soften and smooth out the flavour of the wines. Using a handheld aerator such as Magic Wine Aerator or Magic Wine Decanter is ideal to get the job done.
Wines that are above 15 years old will generally have natural occurred sediments and decanting the wines is a way to remove the sediments. Hence, a decanter is more appropriate to be use for older wines. It is also found that aeration is a harsh way to aerate wines which at some point, it is not suitable for delicate and old wines. In addition, go for a 1.5 L decanter like the MITRE 1.5 L decanter with 20.5 cm diameter which optimized the air to wine ratio
- The intended group/ guest
During my many wine tasting event, there are wine tasting groups with patience and there are those who are excited to get their hands on the wines asap. Hence, for when I have the luxury of time, I would usually uses the decanter while during “exciting” time, I would opt to just use the aerator. While, there are groups where they appreciate the usage of decanter not only that is make the wines taste delicious but it certainly looks pretty and classy when presented.
- Cleaning and Mobility
Let’s face it, cleaning decanter can get tedious hence I’m not a big fan of cleaning the decanter as opposed to cleaning the aerator. Decanter need time to be dried but aerator can be easily clean and dried super-fast. For mobility and ease of storage, my preference is definitely to go for an aerator and the LOVIN Mini Red Wine Aerator is small enough to fit into your pocket!
- The ease of use
I find both aerator and decanter easy to use as both rely on the same principle and all you need to do is just to pour wine into or through it.
Like wines, it is boil down to individual preference on whether to use a decanter or an aerator. My recommendation would certainly be to have both so whether you are dealing with young or vintage wines, you are well prepared.