As much as we like finding out about new wine varietals and off-the-beaten-path biodynamic producers, we often find that wine writing is a bit of a snooze. Which is too bad because we think wine is pretty great. We love a bottle of rosé on a hot summer afternoon (or even in the dead of winter), and we find that steak au poivre just tastes better with a glass of Bordeaux.
We tapped Charles Smith, a rock band tour manager turned award-winning winemaker from Washington State, to share some words of wine wisdom. He’s known for his mission to make wine more accessible, and lives by a motto we can get behind.
1. It's just wine — drink it.
Drinking wine should be as simple as this. I don't get a pint of beer and spend the next 15 minutes thinking about the nuances.
2. The name should tell you about what's in the bottle.
I have a wine called ViNO. It's a casual name, and the wine is the same. It's infinitely pleasant.
3. The word dry doesn't mean what you think it means.
The word dry refers to the absence of sugar. It doesn't mean that the wine is not full of flavor or even fruity.
4. You don't have to spend more than $20.
Just because you spend more doesn't mean you're going to love it more. There's so much good value between $12 and $20. That's really the sweet spot.
5. You don't have to know a lot.
The reason why people work in wine stores is that they really love wine. If you're not afraid to tell them what you like, in whatever verbage you have, you'll be able to find that $15 bottle that just kicks ass.
6. Your wine doesn't like the middle seat either.
If you're at a pizza joint, a tumbler will do, but ideally your wine wants a decent glass with a little bit of room to stretch out. Who wants to sit in the middle seat? Related: Your Prosecco and sparkling wine will also taste better in a wine glass.
7. Your closet makes a decent wine cellar.
What wine really wants is a dark place with no dramatic temperature shifts and no vibration. In most cases, your closet — or even a north-facing wall that doesn't get direct sun — works just fine.
8. Don't store your wine in your refrigerator.
Your wine doesn't want to be freezing its ass off at 35°F. If you have a bottle of Champagne you're saving for a special occasion, keep it in your "cellar" next to your boots, and put it in the fridge an hour before you're ready to drink it.
9. Match your cuisine to your wine.
If I'm in a pizzeria, I'm going to drink a Chianti. If I'm going to eat a steak, I'm going to drink an Argentinian wine. The cuisine of a country probably goes really well with its wine.
10. There aren't a lot of rules.
At the end of the day, remember this: Wine is for everyone. It should be easy and enjoyable.