Five of the Most Common Mistakes Wine Drinkers Make

As the wine lifestyle continues to gain traction around the world, more and more enthusiasts are looking for ways to become more informed about their favorite tipples. They seek to shrug off any semblance of wine ignorance by studying the nuances of each varietal or blend, and loading up on impressive lingo that can be dropped in the company of other wine experts. But wine ignorance goes beyond not knowing your Champagne from your Chardonnay. It also has to do with how you handle your wine.

From storage to first sip, many wine drinkers make subtle slipups that may seem inconsequential at first, but can actually have a lasting effect on the quality of the tipple. To help guarantee that you’re getting the best wine experience out of your bottle, Singapore Wine Vault gives you the top five mistakes that wine drinkers make.

1. Serving wine at the wrong temperature

Serve your white wine, chilled, and your red wine, room temperature, right? Not exactly. That could work if you lived in a drafty European castle with a massive and perennially cool wine cellar.

But for most people who live in regular houses or apartments sans wine cellars, red and white wines are usually stored in the fridge or the kitchen cabinet.

That’s fine, you can actually get your wine to the right serving temperature with a little help from your fridge or ice bucket. Ideally, full-bodied reds like Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon should be served at 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Fruity and light-bodied reds like Chianti, Chinon, and Rioja, along with most white wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, White Burgundy, and Spatlese, are best served at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. While vintage Champagne, ice wines, and Asti Spumanti are perfect at 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, why the obsession with the right serving temperature? Well, if you serve wine at the wrong temperature, you run the risk of throwing its flavors and aromas off kilter. Serving red wine in temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit will cause its aromas and alcohol to take center stage. The wine’s fruit flavors diminish, and you’re left with a beverage that burns.  By popping your red wine in the fridge (30-45 minutes), or in an ice bucket (10 minutes) before serving, you can coax out its fruit flavors for a more balanced wine. Serving your white wine too cold, on the other hand, ‘numbs’ it, and leaves it practically tasteless. This is why it’s highly recommended that you let chilled white wine sit in room temperature for a few minutes before serving. This would help uncoil any tight or ‘numbed’ flavors.

2. Not decanting or aerating wine

Simply put, decanting wine is the process of transferring the tipple from bottle to decanter before serving the beverage to your guests. This is usually done to aged, full-bodied wines with high tannin content—think Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and their respective blends. Doing so will help reduce the sediments in your wine, cutting back on the tipple’s astringency in the process.

Aside from filtering the sediments in the wine, decanting also helps aerate the beverage. As you pour the wine into your decanter, oxygen is introduced to the tipple, helping open up the wine’s flavors and aromas. Let the wine sit in your glass for another 15-20 minutes, and what you’ll have is a smoother and tastier drinking experience.

Now, you can actually decant practically any type wine. High-end white wines benefit from a touch of decanting as their fruit flavors open up. While some Champagne drinkers like to decant the tipple to help soften its effervescence.

3. Poor wine storage

Walk into your local liquor store and you’ll see rows and rows of bottles standing on shelves, illuminated by the harsh glare of overhead lights. Resist the urge to follow suit. There’s a reason why respectable restaurants house their finest tipples in wine fridges and wine cellars. This is because proper wine storage is a must, if you’re planning on aging or keeping wine in bulk.

Now, you can opt to build an underground wine cellar, invest in a few wine fridges, or install floor-to-ceiling wine racks in the coolest room of your home. The important thing is that you keep your bottles in a place that has the right humidity and temperature levels at all times. Keep in mind that the ideal temperature for wine storage is at 55-58 degrees Fahrenheit. While the required humidity level is between 55-75 percent. Keep your bottles away from harsh light—whether natural or artificial—and your wines should continue aging beautifully.

Failure to meet these temperature requirements can lead to the numbing, (when over-chilled), or the oxidation and baking, (when stored at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher), of wines. While the lack of humidity in the room can cause cork breakage. Too much humidity, on the other hand, will spoil your choice tipples. So, keep your liquid investments properly stored—your taste buds and your wallet will thank you for it.

4. Picking wine without taking food into consideration

Here’s the simple truth to wine and food pairings: your choice of wine can make or break your entire dining experience. Many wine drinkers make the mistake of choosing their favorite wine without consulting the menu. Oftentimes, they end up with clashing flavors. What would have been a great meal, becomes a gustatory disaster. We say, take your food into consideration before picking your wine. Are you having a large slab of steak, or a piece of baked cream dory? Are you having salad for lunch, or a bowl of ramen?

Traditionally, red wine is paired with red meat, white wine with white meat or fish, and rosé with hors d’oeuvres and canapés. Of course, that’s not always a hard and fast rule. Taste matters. It’s a known fact that high-acidity wines go well with sweet or fatty food, and tannic wines taste wonderful when paired with a sweet dish. Rosés are also proving to be the key wine for most Asian cuisines. So, go with your gut, and we mean this quite literally.

5. Drinking wine with the wrong glassware or straight from the bottle

Okay, so not many people guzzle wine straight from the bottle when in a restaurant, but many wine drinkers actually own up to this wine crime, claiming they’ve done this when alone or in the comforts of their home. While it’s true that people can’t stop you from drinking your wine from the bottle or out of a paper cup, we will tell you that you’re missing out on some serious flavors and aromas. The right wine glassware can redefine your drinking experience.

Notice how restaurants serve red wine in large, rounded, and stemmed glasses? When you sip wine from this type of glass, your nose goes into the mouth of the glassware, giving you full access to the wine’s bouquet or aroma. While Champagne flutes are naturally tall and narrow to preserve the tipple’s carbonation and flavors.

So, the next time you’re having wine, take the time to enjoy it the ‘right’ way. We guarantee that it’ll make your wine experience extra-special.