Four Beginner Wine Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, May 03, 2018

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The world of wine is vast; every wine enthusiast and wine professional that I have met speaks to continuous discovery and education. Still, there are 'mistakes' that novice and even some seasoned wine drinkers make. Here are a few:

Making preferences too quickly and sticking with them

I almost cringe when I hear wine drinkers make statements like “I don't drink reds”, “I don't drink whites”, “I don't drink Merlot”, “I don't drink wines from …”, many of these preferences usually coming from some negative wine experience a long time ago. Open your mind by attending as many wine-tasting events as possible in order to try and experience many different types and styles of wine before etching your wine preferences in stone. I have had too much fun in my years on the floor of our wine bar busting many bad wine habits. My most memorable was hearing a customer confessing that the Chilean Carmenere I served him was the best red wine he ever had; on arrival he loudly declared that he hated wines from Chile. He became a regular customer always in search of a wine adventure after that.

Serving Temperature

With the exception of wine-centric restaurants and bars, wine serving temperature is a challenge globally. Most red wines are served much too hot and many times white wines are served to cold. Most red wines taste best at temperatures between 58 degrees and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 20 degrees Celsius). The red wine bottle or wine glass should be slightly cool to the touch. The cooler side of that scale is for the lighter wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais. Most white wines do best between 44 degrees to 54 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees to 12 degrees Celsius). Serving any wine too cold will numb its flavours. Sparkling wines and Champagnes are to be served cold.

Keeping an open bottle for too long

Many wine drinkers are still unsure about how long an open bottle of wine will last before going bad. Hint:it's much shorter than most think. Oxygen is a wine's best friend and worst enemy at the same time; just enough will open up the wine's aroma and flavours and too much will begin to make the wine dull and oxidised. A good rule of thumb is one to three days for white wine and six to 10 days for red wine, as long as the bottle is resealed and kept refrigerated. Take the red out a few minutes before serving to allow to warm up a bit.

Imitating wine experts:

When dining out, after the bottle is opened, the cork ritual commences. Depending on how well I know the individual, I will jokingly ask what they are smelling. The more experienced drinkers will explain that they are checking the condition of the cork and smelling for cork taint while some will confess that they thought it was what supposed to be done. Another 'mistake' is long admiration and discussions about the 'legs' of the wine.

Unless you are a professional conducting a formal wine assessment or if you are educating wine stewards, there is little value with long analyses of the cork or the legs. Just pour, take a sniff, sip and enjoy.

Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

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