What could be viewed as a seemingly minor point, but I personally like to be able to appreciate the color of a wine before tasting it! The color of a wine can give away a lot of clues to its age, possible grape, and other keys elements such as fining or filtration. If the room is too dark, you are left, well, left in the dark as to all these elements! Check out this article which illustrates how red or blue lighting will lead tasters to rate a wine higher than green or white.
Another point that may seem kind of pedantic (I’ve been wanting to use that word for a while now), but the serving temperature of wines is critical to their perception.
Scientific studies have shown that at different temperatures, sweetness and bitterness are perceived differently. So a Chardonnay might taste flabby and sweet when served at room temperature, and when it’s ice-cold it might taste of next-to-nothing at all. On a side-note, that’s a good little trick if you’re serving guests an inexpensive white wine, but don’t necessarily want them to know how little you spent. Chill the arse out of it! 9 times out of 10 they’ll be none the wiser.
Working in a hotel many moons ago, I had a regular weekly guest who would demand his Champagne glass to be put in the freezer 15 minutes before he was served his bottle of Piper-Heidsieck. At the time I didn’t think much of it. Now, I realize that he had no idea what he was doing. The customer is always right though, I guess…
#8 Competing odors
“Mmm, I’m getting a hint of nectarine, grapefruit, some grassy notes..…and Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein!”
On more than one occasion (at wine tastings I’ve attended), I’ve found myself stood next to someone who must have just stepped out of a bath filled with Eau de Toilette! Don’t be that guy/girl!
There’s no doubt about it: when you have a heavy cold, you simply can’t enjoy wine in the same way. If you are going to drink wine when sick, don’t even bother reaching for a moderately expensive bottle, keep it cheap!
On another side note, in my younger years I used to suffer from very severe mono about ever 3-4 months. I was prescribed plenty of different medications, but as I got older the only thing that I found to get rid of the fever was to get completely and unequivocally drunk! True story. Maybe it was the large volume of fluids getting the fever out of my body, but I personally like to believe that alcohol cures all!
I more than anyone understand that a restaurant has to make money, and wine is one of the largest margin items for a business, but there is no excuse for ridiculously high markups in a restaurant.
When writing a wine list, I personally like to offer the customer a reward in choosing a higher-end and more obscure wine, by way of a lower markup. Now saying this, there’s a difference between a high-price and a high-markup; and I’ll let you into a little secret most restaurants don’t want you to know. As a rule of thumb, the price you pay for a glass of wine covers (at a minimum) the cost of the price the restaurant is paying for the bottle. How outrageous is that!?!?!
But hold on a moment before you start writing your local Congressman! Fast food chains purchase Coca-Cola post-mix syrup at around $4-5 a gallon. A medium Coke which sells for $1.30+ contains about 9 cents worth of syrup. Now THAT’S a markup!
Part two continued tomorrow….