Whether enjoying a glass of wine at home with friends, at a vineyard tasting room or in a restaurant, there are a number of factors to be considered. While wine drinking doesn't have many "rules" per say, there are a few items which confound the general gazer/passer by. By considering the following, however, you and the people you are with will have an enjoyable wine-with-dinner experience.
When you are dining at a home or a restaurant, the desired outcome for the evening is people and conversation Ė not wine. Sure wine can be on the menu. And it certainly can enhance both the food and an evening in general. There is, however, more to life than oaky flavors and top notes. Unless youíre participating in a wine club with these people at this particular dinner party, your expertise needs to be kept on the back burner.
For the self-proclaimed wine snob (or maybe thatís a term used behind your back), wine does add to an evening. But unless you are in Napa for a weekend or tasting at a winery, itís not necessary to swirl the wine for color and comment on its legs. Nor is it acceptable to stick your entire nose into the glass and inhale deeply. Sure the guy at the winery showed you the proper way to inhale the wine in order to track down all components of the bottle. Performing acts like this in pubic, among friends, however, elevates your knowledge from snobbery to total geekdom.
When couples dine out with a few friends itís a time for conversation. At this event you are not the wine connoisseur and you are not judging a wine. You are dining out with friends. We all get together to catch up on the happening in each otherís lives. We crave laughter, companionship and a friendly ear. Our hope is that dinner will be sumptuous, drinks will enhance our food and conversation will drizzle over the entire evening. So remember you are not contemplating purchasing a case of this particular wine. You arenít even bringing home a bottle for yourself. You are sitting at a table eating dinner. The wine is an accessory, not the main course.
Letís bring you back to the dinner table and reintroduce you to your surroundings. Finding out about the new puppy of the person next to you is acceptable. Laughing at a friendsí crazy day is encouraged. Commenting on how well the wine brings out the flavor of the lamb (or chicken or cheese, etc.) is fine. But pointing out how poorly the berries are in the wine and how it hurts the color or what the scent of the top notes are, borders on nerdiness. It causes you to sound like a wine nut wanna-be.
So suppress your desire to slosh the wine in your mouth on that initial taste and consider your companions. You are out to visit with your friends. When you all take off for that weekend in Wine Country then tout your expertise. Until then look around the table and smile. Enjoy the company of the people and donít fret the wine.