Ten Ways To Get More Out Of Wine

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Is the cabernet in your pantry a better fit for the new Death Cab for Cutie, or is some classic Sinatra a better bet? How about that pinot grigio in the fridge? Feist or the Beatles?

As if figuring out which wine was right for which setting, meal or occasion wasn’t a complicated enough process already, a new study just upped the ante.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Heriot Watt University in Scotland, subjects were more likely to enjoy certain wines depending on the music they listened to as they sipped.

The researchers found, for example, that cabernet sauvignon was far preferred by subjects when "powerful and heavy" music was played and that chardonnay rated higher when "zingy and refreshing" sounds were heard.

Interesting stuff to be sure, but don’t we have enough to contemplate when choosing a wine? Don’t sweat it. We’ve talked to the experts and come up with a list of surefire ways to get more out of each bottle (and help in finding the right one) no matter what the circumstances.

10. Find Your Own Wine Guy

“My very best tip is this: Get to know very well a retailer, not a store but a person,” says Tom Wark, of Wark Communications, a public relations and marketing firm for wineries, who also blogs about his favorite topic at the blog. “Know their name and how many kids they have. Become their friend.”

This is one all the experts agreed on. A relationship with a knowledgeable retailer is the best way to ensure that every sip you drink will be to your liking. With time, this person will get to know your tastes and be able to recommend new wines.

“They are the guys who are tasting wines every day and whose entire job is matching wines to a customer’s taste,” Wark says. “If you find the right guy, they’re better than any data base out there.”

So go out and find that human date base. And use it often.

9.  Drink In Good Company

“If you think music does great things for wine, try being in love,” says Alder Yarrow, the founder and editor of Vinography, a popular wine blog. “Romance or good conversation with friends will improve the experience.”

The point here is sharing the experience. A good meal with good company will do wonders for the enjoyment over simply having a glass alone.

8. Think Small

Next time you’re looking for a new bottle to bring home, try picking wines from small producers.

“Knowing the story behind the wine: who made it, where it came from, what the tasting notes are and the like is important to getting more out of it,” Yarrow says. “The small producers are usually people that are passionate about their products and will have good stories behind them.”

7. Get To Know Your Palate

Seems obvious, but especially for wine neophytes it can take a little time to find which wines work best for you. As you get to know your own tastes and which wines you respond to, like sweeter whites say, the better positioned you are to make informed decisions when you’re buying.

“The more wines you try, the more you’ll educate yourself” says Elizabeth Grubel, the director of wine buying at vinfolio.com, a San Francisco company that helps collectors find, buy and store their wines.

A handy tool to help you identify what aspects of a wine you prefer is U.C. Davis’ aroma wheel.

6. Take Notes

Keeping a log might seem a bit over the top, but it’s a great way to help you define what wines you like. And that way, next time in the store staring at a shelf brimming with a dizzying array of choices, you won’t have to scour your memory trying to remember what you bought a week ago.

“If you note down what you liked and when you had it, you can go back and get it when a similar desire arises again,” says Wark.

5. Give It Time

“People don’t age wines enough,” notes Yarrow. “Watching a good wine develop over time is one of the great pleasures of wine buying and drinking.”

Try buying a case of decent wine and open a bottle every six months or so. That way you’ll see firsthand how the wine’s flavor and tasting notes evolve over time.

4. Buy When You Travel

Next time you’re on vacation or on a trip, buy a bottle or two of the local wine and bring it home with you. At some point in the future, crack it open. Enjoy. Remember the trip.

“Wines are great tools for nostalgia and memory,” Yarrow says.

Another variation on this is buying a case on your wedding day (or other noteworthy occasion). Sharing a bottle on your anniversary will only enhance the drinking experience.

3. Store It Right

If you’re going to shell out for a good wine for that future special occasion, then be sure that you don’t destroy it the meantime. It’s the wine collector’s version of buying high and selling low.

You don’t need a wine cellar, a cool dry place like a closet will do fine. Just make sure that the closet doesn’t get warmed from the sun all day or a nearby radiator. For more serious collectors, professional wine storage is another option.

2. Watch The Thermostat

Most people drink red wine too warm and white wine too cold, the experts say. You’ll get more out of each if you don’t overdo it on either end. A red should be room temperature or a little cooler; a white should be crisp and cold but not ice cube.

1. Don’t Stress Out

Easy does it. Drinking wine should be fun remember? So don’t let yourself get too worked up over the endless recommendations, ratings prejudices about which wine goes with which meal and just buy, drink and enjoy. If you follow our tips, the whole process will get easier and you’ll be getting more out of each sip in no time.

Now, what should I play on the iPod (AAPL)?


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