Some things they just don’t teach you in books. But then life is all about making mistakes and learning from them, although admittedly some mistakes are easier to admit to than others. So here is some wine related wisdom acquired the hard way.
1) If you put a bottle of wine in the freezer for too long the wine will push the cork out and explode out of the neck, freezing in a glorious wine fountain. Do not be tempted to suck the wine ‘popsicle’ thinking that it might taste good, it doesn’t. It tastes like pure alcohol. And no, I don’t know what would happen with a screw cap, I wasn’t silly enough to try again!
May I suggest if you need to quickly chill down a bottle, you instead wrap it in wet kitchen roll and put it in the freezer for a short while, it will chill down much quicker. Oh, and set a timer.
2) Ice cubes in your wine glass on a hot day? Big no-no! As they melt they dilute your wine resulting in a particularly insipid, watery final sip. This practice is highly frowned upon, particularly by the winemaker. Instead use frozen grapes which keep the wine cool and don’t melt. On a hot day pour much smaller glasses and top up regularly so the wine doesn't have time to heat up in the glass
3) If you are tasting wine from the barrel, particularly when there is limited wine and it is expensive ie Burgundy, they will often have 2 spittoons – one to spit into, and one to pour the left over wine from your glass into. Spittoon 1 gets thrown away, spittoon 2 is returned to the barrel. Listen very carefully when they say which is which, it is very embarrassing to have to admit you have spat in the wrong one.
4) When opening wine with a wax seal don’t try and chip away at the wax as it will go everywhere and take forever, just plunge the corkscrew straight through the top and open normally, the wax comes away as a clean disc saving a lot of clearing up.
5) Do not be tempted to sit in giant ice buckets. They are very difficult to get out of and ‘friends’ will want to take photos rather than pull you out. *and no, I'm not uploading that picture!*
6) When judging wines blind, always be polite in your criticism. Declaring a wine is ‘so faulty it could walk out of the bottle on its own’ and then finding out it is your own wine is not a good look
7) This final one was a friend, not me, but was too good not to include….When you are handed the cork by the sommelier in a restaurant, do not let your logic dictate ‘I taste wine, therefore he wants me to taste the cork’ before giving it an appreciative suck. The cork is there to smell, to check for cork taint which smells like wet cardboard or dank cellars. Smell it don’t suck it and you will look eminently more normal in the eyes of your clients.