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Wine Pairings 101

Wine Pairings 101

September 07, 2016 — Selim Yasmine
How to Impress Your Date by Tasting Wine Like a Pro

How to Impress Your Date by Tasting Wine Like a Pro

So you’ve gone the extra mile to invite her to the hottest new restaurant with an unbelievably tempting menu. You confidently order your three-course meal and the sommelier hands you the wine list and asks you that all important question, “What would you like to drink with that, Sir?”

You can’t possibly freeze! God forbid she thinks you are a novice at this. So you confidently work your way down the list, pick a suitable (and well-priced option –somewhere close to the upper range of the popular choices is always a safe bet). Before long, you’re offered to taste the wine. Now what?

Don’t sweat. Follow these three steps and you’ll even impress the sommelier (and hopefully your date!)

1. Observe – hold the glass by the stem and give the glass a smooth tilt. (You’re doing this to check for clarity and color, in case she asks.) Cloudiness in a glass is indicative of undesired fermentation, so keep an eye out for that. Admire the color of your wine – a young red would be a nice purple-ruby color and veer more towards brown in a mature wine, while white wines go from a slightly green rim to further along the gold color scheme.

2. Smell – give the glass a good 10-second swirl to let the wine release its natural aromas. Don’t dramatically over-swirl – you definitely don’t want to blow your cover! Lean in for a quick sniff with the tip of your nose slightly surfing the top of the glass. A few descriptive words would also come in handy, so be on top of your wine-vocab game.

3. Taste – sip and move the wine around in your mouth (without looking too awkward) to appreciate the wine thoroughly. Tasting the wine is a three-phase process and so that first feel is actually an “attack” phase where you’ll be tasting tannins, alcohol, and acidity. You’ll then taste the flavors of the wine during the “evolution” phase (this is when you taste the fruitiness, earthiness, and so on of the wine), and why you’ll need to keep that sip of wine in your mouth. Now that you’ve gotten to the finish, you’ll be able to detect the “heaviness” of the wine (was it light, medium, or full-bodied?) and its flavor impression (was it fruity? Or oaky?)

Nod appreciatively and gesture to the sommelier to pour out a glass for the lady.

Done! Now you can sit back and enjoy an evening of fine wine, good company and great conversation. Just make sure you are a gentleman and top up her glass before your own!

September 06, 2016 — Selim Yasmine
The Quick Wine Poll: 6 Questions On Wine You Want Answered

The Quick Wine Poll: 6 Questions On Wine You Want Answered

We asked you to tell us what wine-related question you needed an answer to right now. Here are the top 6 questions. Keep them coming!

What does ‘terroir’ even mean?

Terroir is a French word for terrain (coming from the word terre meaning land). It refers to a number of elements that nurture the grapes from which the wine comes from. These elements include the climate, soil and sun exposure, among others. The terroir is one of the major factors considered when differentiating between wines of different regions (and let’s face it, using the word “terroir” just makes you sound like you know what you are talking about).

I’m hosting a party for my coworkers, what wine should I serve?

It’s always good to start with a good red and white wine (feel free to add rosé to the mix). When it comes to quantity, it’s safe to assume that every person is likely to have 3 drinks. A bottle generally serves 6-8 drinks based on how generously you pour – so you can do the math. There are a few other considerations to keep in mind when buying wine for a party. The rule of thumb is to go for wines that generally don’t overwhelm the food, and are lower in alcohol (possibly below 13.5%). You can also match wine to foods you’ll be serving on the day by using our search engine.

Why should I decant my wine?

Decanting wine helps on two fronts: separating sediment, and opening the flavor through aeration. The idea is to have the wine sit for a while to allow any solid particles that have formed in the wine to fall to the bottom, making for a clearer, sediment-free elixir you can enjoy. Contact with air also allows stronger tasting wines to mellow out and tones down tannins, making room for the flavors of the wine to shine.

Are the aromas and flavors added to wine?

No, the flavors in a particular wine is the magic formula created through the process of fermentation. The breakdown of sugar in the grapes releases a number of elements which we taste and which resemble things that we’ve tasted before. It is quite normal for any two people to taste different things in the same wine, and that is partly due to previous exposure and your unique palate.

Why does wine make my mouth dry?

Not to be confused with the “dryness” used to describe wine, the feeling of having a dry mouth is caused by the concentration of tannins in wine. Tannins are organic substances found in the grape and grape skin that have a slightly astringent, bitter taste (just like in tea). In wine, tannins give complexity and add balance. That said, not all wines have the same concentration of tannins, and that is partly why they vary in effect – from waking up your palate to causing it to pucker up.

How long will my wine bottle last once opened?

Once opened, a wine bottle would last a day or two. The best way to preserve the wine is to refrigerate it and use a vacuum to pump out the air, since the more oxygen is kept to react with the wine, the quicker the wine turns. Rich, red wines may actually taste better after a day of airing as opposed to white wines, which tend to go flat the next day.

Have any more questions you’d like answered? Feel free to send them in to 209@209lebanesewine.com

September 02, 2016 — Selim Yasmine
How About Trying Something New?

How About Trying Something New?

Like coffee, developing a more nuanced palate for wine can take time. But that shouldn’t put you off straying away from the tried and tested route. After all, your next favorite wine could be just a glass away!

If you are more of a social wine drinker, start with wines that are considered less complex – generally wines made from single grape varieties or a blend of two grapes are easier to get to know better.

The starting point to the discovery of new wines is to understand what you like. Once you have a few favorites and have identified the kinds of wines you like (full bodied or easy to drink? Crisp or fruity? Oaky or spicy?) you can start experimenting.

Looking to develop your palate? Here are a few tips:

1. Develop a “nose”: Sniff, sniff, sniff! Try and identify smells you are familiar with. Lemon, peach, vanilla… even leather or toast. You’ll be surprised how many scents you can pick out once you start paying attention.

2. Aspirate: It’s good form to slurp your wine… ok, maybe only a little bit. Sip the wine while sucking in a little bit of air and let it roll around your mouth in order to release its inherent flavors. Just like the sniff test, you’ll soon be able to taste more flavors associated with other every day foods and materials.\

3. Jot it down: By noting the different textures and flavors, you will start developing your personal wine reference – a trick that makes all the difference in really getting to know what you like. 

    Given the great diversity of Lebanese wine, it is always the right time to start experiencing new flavors and aromas, and discovering new wine producing areas. From Lebanon’s more famous wineries to little boutique producers in the mountains, you can start appreciating the amazing variety of Lebanese wine in an authentic setting – almost all Lebanon’s wineries are an easy road trip from the big cities.

    Part of feeding your curiosity is to read up on some of the wines produced across the country. Some background information would definitely come in handy when tasting, but would also give you insights into a particular winery’s unique story. Stories of vintners and wineries explain vision, but also technique and character.

    Want to try something new at home? Search through our wines , play with our filters to tell us what you like and we’ll recommend the best choices for you. And have it delivered right to your door!

    Still unsure of what you’d like to try? Send us your questions and we will be more than happy to help.

    August 31, 2016 — Selim Yasmine
    How to Pick the Perfect Wine Glass

    How to Pick the Perfect Wine Glass

    Enjoying a good glass of wine is primarily about the sensory experience – being able to appreciate the feel, the aroma and the color all go a long way. Having the right glassware plays a big part in enhancing your enjoyment of a wine.
    August 25, 2016 — Selim Yasmine
    The Art of Decanting

    The Art of Decanting

    Decanting a wine – or the act of pouring a wine into a separate vessel before serving it – is a process that often raises a lot of questions. Which wines need to be decanted? How long before serving should you decant? Does decanting actually improve the taste of a wine or is it just a pompous, old-fashioned tradition?
    August 09, 2016 — Selim Yasmine