There are some wine faux pas which are quite frankly unforgivable. Pronouncing the ‘T’ in Merlot, for example, or knocking back a rich red without taking even the briefest moment to appreciate its taste. Others, however, are less obvious, but should still be avoided if you really want to uphold proper etiquette. Are you guilty of any of these?
1. Being a sloppy pourer
Of course, there’s a considerable difference between a bottle of supermarket Pinot Noir and a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, but all winemakers are nonetheless fiercely proud of their creations, and a bottle’s label is a representation of that pride. Letting wine drip all over it is generally viewed as rather disrespectful, so give the bottle a little twist after pouring to avoid stray dribbles. Never lean the bottle against the rim of the glass, either – let the wine fall through the air.
2. Making a mess of the foil cap
The knife on traditional bottle openers is there for a reason. Avoid whipping off the entire foil capsule from the top of the bottle – instead, cut it neatly right below the lip of the bottle, so the wine doesn’t pass over the foil as it’s poured. And when it comes to removing the cork, try to do so as quietly and gracefully as possible.
3. Holding a glass by its bowl
Tempting as it may be to wrap your fingers around the bowl of a glass for added purchase while holding forth in a heated conversation, don’t. Wines are generally served at a temperature suited for their style, and holding it by the bowl will only warm it beyond its ideal level, not to mention leave fingerprint smudges all over the glassware. Use the stem instead.
4. Overfilling your glass
There’s nothing wrong with pouring yourself a large serving, but to preserve flavour – and mitigate raised eyebrows – make sure the glass is no more than three-quarters full. This gives the wine enough room to open up, and allows you to get your nose in the glass to really appreciate its aromas. Avoid ostentatious swirling, though – you’ll lose much of the aroma and look rather silly in the process.
5. Drinking every last drop
High quality reds that have been left to age often develop what is called la lie de vin – a muddy sediment found at the bottom of the bottle. It’s good practice to leave around half an inch in the bottle, so as to avoid it ending up in a glass – it’s not toxic but it doesn’t taste particularly good.
6. Storing cork-sealed bottles vertically
One of the many advantages of screw cap bottles is that they can be stored standing up, but this is an absolute no-no if your wine is sealed by cork. Bottles with cork stoppers must always be stored on their side, ensuring the cork remains in contact with the wine. Otherwise, the cork can dry out, letting in air that will oxidise the wine and compromising its flavour.
7. Being stingy
Wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, so taking cheap wine to parties, hogging the good bottles and taking leftovers home from a host’s house are all very unseemly behaviours guaranteed to ensure you’re not invited back again!