I know…it seems like it’s complicated. I know this because I’ve been to the grocery store, and I stood in the wine aisle next to a man having a near-panic attack over trying to find a good wine. He was on his cell phone, and the woman he was talking with suggested a particular brand. He searched desperately, and at this point I felt so badly for him that when I saw the brand, I pointed it out to him. He gave me a much more grateful smile that was required, and went on his way, taking his anxiety with him. Winehobo is here to help you avoid that whole situation, and to show you how easy it is to enjoy wine.
First, let’s get you started with some basic tools. This first tool is a corkscrew.
This corkscrew is my favorite. It looks used because, well…it is. Used. A lot. It has three important parts. These are probably NOT the scientific names for the parts, but that’s okay:
- The knife. This is what is used (at least by me) to cut the foil that is usually covering the cork. It makes it a little easier to remove the cork. It’s not necessary, so if your corkscrew doesn’t have the knife, it’s still okay. But if you do have a knife on your corkscrew, unfold the knife all the way, put the teeth side toward the foil near the top of the bottle, put your thumb on the back, not-sharp, smooth side of the knife and run it around the foil all the way around the bottle. I turn the bottle with my other hand to make it easier. Take the foil off, and fold the knife back into the apparatus.
- The corkscrew. Yep, that’s the really important bit. If you don’t have the knife, just jab the corkscrew through the foil. This is the fun part-put the tip of the corkscrew on top of the cork, press, and turn. When it’s screwed in all the way…
- The Pry Bar. See that funky-looking bottle opener/lever thing on the end opposite the knife? We’re going to work with that now. You’ll notice the entire apparatus rocks back and forth when the corkscrew is screwed into a cork. This is a good thing…tilt the apparatus so that the the pry bar is balanced on the lip of the wine bottle. My corkscrew (and many others) have little “feet,” if you will, to assist with this purpose. Then…
- PULL! Using the leverage provided by the little feet on the end of the pry bar, and knowing that the corkscrew is embedded in the cork, put your non-dominant hand over the feet to stabilize them, and pull up with your dominant hand. You’ll feel how to make it work at this point.
You did it! Great! Now that the bottle is open, you’ll want to actually enjoy the wine. You’ll need some tools for that. The first one is this:
Yep. You’ll need a glass. Now, here, at least for me, it’s always been easy to get derailed by this question: Which glass should I use? There are flutes, goblets, snifters, wine glasses, stemless wine glasses, hock wine glasses…and on and on. Heck, there are even breathable wine glasses. And…oh, dang. Did I really forget to move that red Solo cup when I took this picture for my blog?
Nope. I didn’t. If you want to enjoy wine, you can do so in any and all of these glasses, and frankly also in juice glasses, and any other glass (or cup) you might have. The point isn’t to get worked up about whether you’re serving in the “correct” glass. If you pour the wine into some sort of glass, drink the wine, and enjoy it, then…well, you’ve succeeded in enjoying wine.
But, before we go too much further, I want to show you the final two tools I wanted to talk about today:
The orange thing on top is, simply, a stopper. If you don’t finish the bottle of wine, you can (and I have, many, many times) just stick the cork back in the bottle. It generally works best if you do stick it in upside down. But, these are an inexpensive way to keep your wine fresher than just leaving it open on the counter, and in case your cork breaks during the removal process. It’s certainly not necessary to have a stopper. But you can, if you like.
And the silver thing on the bottom is a wine aerator. This is used with red wines, and you stick it in the top of the bottle where the wine comes out, and pour the wine through it. Why? Well, it helps to smooth out some of the harshness that can be in red wine. We’ll get into words like dry, sweet, tannins, and a lot of other descriptive words in later posts. But, if you’re trying a wine, and you think it tastes kind of harsh, try an aerator. It can’t hurt, and it might help you to taste things you wouldn’t normally taste while you’re trying to deal with what we’ll call “harshness,” for now anyway. But you absolutely do not NEED one.
Do you know what makes a wine good? If you like it, it’s good. That’s the big secret. There are books, and ratings, and scores, and all kinds of information out there. But really, if it tastes good to you, it IS good. So hit your favorite grocery store, pick a bottle, and start experimenting. If you have found a particular wine you like, let me know in the comments. I’ll be making some recommendations about wines, places to drink wine, any new tools I find, and who knows what else, in the coming posts.