Wine Basics for the Unrefined Palette


I’ll admit it, I am a beer drinker – a crappy, cheap, domestic beer drinker at that. But every now and again, I do enjoy a glass of wine. If you’re anything like me, the world of wine can be a little intimidating and overwhelming, so here are a few basics to get you oriented.

Where is the best place to buy wine?

You can buy wine at nearly any grocery store, liquor store or convenience store, but the best places to go if you’re not an expert are local wine shops and larger spirits specialty stores like Binny’s. These stores usually offer regular tastings, often free, so you can learn more about different types of wine and try them before you buy a bottle. The staff at these stores are also more knowledgeable and are great about asking you the right questions and finding the right bottle for you.

How much should I spend on a bottle of wine?

It’s generally accepted that older wines taste better (though not always true) so they typically cost more, but younger wines are just fine and more affordable. Some of my favorite bottles cost just about $10 per bottle. Some stores also offer case discounts which make it easier to stock up on your favorite wine.

How should I store this wine?

In order to preserve your wine’s aroma and flavor, storing the bottles at a temperature of 55 degrees is ideal. Beyond 75 degrees and wine will begin to oxidize. A humidity level of 60-70% is ideal for keeping corks from drying out. Too much humidity invites mold. Store bottles horizontally so that the corks don’t dry out and be sure to keep them away from sunlight.

If conditions in your home are not ideal for storing wine, or if you find yourself accumulating a large collection, consider renting a climate controlled storage unit made specifically for wine. Offsite wine storage facilities are especially handy for resisting the temptation to open those bottles of fine wine too early.

Am I ready to open this bottle now?

Just before serving a bottle, make sure it has reached its ideal serving temperature. Champagnes and sparkling wines should be chilled to 43-47F degrees. White wines should be 46-57F degrees. Light reds should be at about 55F degrees. And deeper reds should be served at 59-66F. Rules about drinking reds with red meat and whites with fish and poultry no longer apply, but try to choose wines that complement and balance well with your meal.

The Lock Up has several climate-controlled wine storage units around the country. Find one of these wine cellars near you.

What other wine buying, storage and serving tips can you offer? Share them here…


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