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How to order the right wine when dining out

By Len Maseko | Mar 05, 2016 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

When dining out at a restaurant with friends, the question about which wine will be suitable for different meals ordered by everyone arises almost invariably, and sometimes after a bit of bickering some middle ground is found for the benefit of everyone.

Often the party defers to the friend who is more knowledgeable on the topic or the most vocal to keep peace, yet everyone should enjoy their food with whatever wine they deem suitable.

Fortunately, there are few things to consider before ordering - like whether everyone will be ordering the same kind of meal or one which includes white or red meat, or even a vegetarian dish for that matter.

If the restaurant has a wine steward, all the better for everyone as he or she will offer appropriate advice.

Since the rule of white meat to white wine and red wine to red meat is generally followed, though not strictly cast in stone, wine connoisseurs always recommend that diners comprising a group should avoid choosing extreme styles of wines so as to maintain a balance.

Rather select two bottles, one red and other white, both dry and medium-bodied or even a rose instead of extremely dry white or full-bodied red wine which might overwhelm the food and spoil one's dining experience. If there is no agreement, the best option is to allow everyone to order their own choice of wine by the glass.

But in the case of everyone agreeing to the final choice, the wine steward must be sure to bring the bottle of wine unopened, and for one member of the party to inspect whether it is indeed the right order. It is quite in order as well for the steward to present - as a matter of routine - the cork to the diners to inspect before pouring.

This is to ensure that the wine is not spoiled, hence the importance of inspecting the cork.

But how do you tell that the wine good?

Enjoy Wine author Dave Hughes says a cork is "a handy indicator" of the wine's condition, although the practice of showing the diner the cork is rarely followed today.

"If the cork appears crumbly or mouldy, this means that it could have lent a corky flavour to the wine. If the wine has stained the cork along its entire length, there's a possibility that the bottle has been stored in poor conditions and that heat has caused the wine to expand and be forced out past the cork," Hughes says.

Wine-tasting taboos

As a sense of smell plays an important role when tasting wine, strong smells can affect the way the wine tastes. When tasting wine, men should avoid things like after-shave, cologne, and women should not wear perfume or lipstick when going to tastings. Avoid brushing one's teeth with toothpaste too close to a tasting as this coats the taste-buds, spoiling the tasting experience.

Sparkling wine is known to go flat quickly when sipped by an imbiber wearing lipstick, Hughes says.

Also, it helps to eat an apple to sharpen the palate before a tasting.

Events of the week

- The FNB regional wine show opens at Hemingways in East London tonight and ends tomorrow.

- The wineries of Paarl celebrate their 2016 harvest with a string of festivities at various farms on Saturday.

Speak like a pro

TAWNY is a term used to describe a wine that has changed from red to brownish colour during maturation. It is also used to describe a type of port


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