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A beginner’s guide to upping your wine game

If you are enthusiastic about wine and have been referring to yourself as a ‘wino’ – STOP right there! A ‘wino’ is actually someone who drinks excessive amount of cheap wine, with no regard for the quality of the drink!

What you want to be is actually called an ‘oenophile’, someone who appreciates wine, even as an amateur aficionado.

And while you don’t have to be the next master sommelier, just like improving your wine terminology, here are some easy tips to up your wine game!

Which wine with which meat?

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as ‘red meat – red wine’, and ‘white meat – white wine’, as with the infinite possibility of the varying spice combinations and how cooked your meat might be, pairing a wine to a specific dish is a masterful affair.

Good news is: it is generally safe to stick with the ‘red meat – red wine’ rule. As beef is a fatty, heavy protein, it can benefit from the balancing effect offered by the polyphenols or antioxidants of red wine, with the astringent quality of the wine assisting in the digestion of the meat, even somewhat limiting the cholesterol being ingested!

Serving chicken or turkey filets? Then a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay are no-fail choices. However not all poultry were created equal, as darker meat like duck would likely pair better with a red wine.

Fish or seafood is another tricky category, but white wines like Pinot Gris and the ever-versatile Sauvignon Blanc are widely recommended.

And don’t forget to dabble in some rosé from time to time, perfect for cheesy dishes or even to serve with a cheese board appetiser.

Room temperature or chilled?

It is widely believed that wine ought to be served at room temperature. However, if we consider the fact that countries where wine is produced have a colder average year-round temperature than Malaysia, perhaps some temperature adjustments need to be made!

According to Malaysian wine retailer Lavo Wine, as average room temperature can get up to 21 degrees Celsius, you should consider chilling your red wine to about 14 degrees Celsius before serving. Be sure not to chill your wine in the coldest parts of your fridge, or even for too long, as even just half an hour before serving should be good enough to improve your wine tasting experience.

Bonus tip: It might not be necessary to store your wine in the fridge immediately after buying it, but you still ought to care for the bottles before popping their corks. Store your wine in a cool, dark spot in your home, and avoid direct sunlight and heat from appliances (such as next to the oven or on top of the fridge).

Screw top or cork?

While it is a common misconception that corked wine bottles mean better quality wine, the truth is there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a screw top bottle! Screw tops, which are especially good for keeping white wines crisp, were actually conceptualised simply to make wine easier to transport and store for re-serving. For example, when serving guests in the comfort of home, feel free uncork a bottle for serving. But if going on a picnic lunch, then a screw top bottle is clearly more practical.

You might even find your favourite wine brands in screw top or even box varieties, so don’t snub your nose at them, for all good wine is wine worth drinking!

Want good quality wine delivered to your doorstep? Check out one of Malaysia’s largest wine suppliers’ wine list on the GemSpot app under Beverage Delivery.

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