Sharing Nuggets of Wine Truths, Tasting Axioms and Useful Corollaries

We are part of The Trust Project
Nick Antonaccio
Nick Antonaccio

In pondering a theme for this week’s column, I concluded this would be a good juncture to offer choice tidbits to help navigate the wide world of wine.
No travelogue, no tasting notes, no recounting of the latest wine fraud. No post-truth revelations or fake wine news headlines. Just the facts to help you make better wine choices and to better understand the underlying logic behind the art and science of wine.
So here are 10 random factoids, choice nuggets to elevate your game or to supplement your memory banks. Some of you will consider these to be revelatory; others may have a tell-me-something-I-don’t-already-know reaction.
1. Always clear your palate before you taste a wine. Previous foods in your mouth will influence your experience with a wine. You will not enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon if you just finished off a bag of salty chips.
2. Wine is best experienced when paired with food. Together in your mouth, a “new” flavor is created. Remember that regional wines evolved over the centuries as accompaniments to regional foods, not as stand-alone expressions of a grape. I have changed my opinion of a wine once it interplayed with the flavors and aromas of a food dish.
3. How many times has sparkling wine foamed out of the glass as you are pouring? Tricks: tilt the glass and pour down the side or pour a small amount first and let it settle, then fill the glass.
4. Aromas dominate your appreciation of a wine. Our physiology has five elements of taste and over 10,000 elements of aroma.
5. Corollary to number 4 above: swirling the wine in your glass releases the aromas and bouquet more quickly. Always swirl; it’s functional, not snobbery.
6. Sub corollary to number 4: Don’t fill your glass more than a third of the way. It allows the aromas to concentrate in the other two-thirds. Swirl a glass that has curved sides and rim. It funnels and therefore concentrates the aromas toward your nose as you sip the wine.
7. Don’t swallow too soon. Hold the wine in your mouth for a few seconds and “chew” it. This will allow the wine to coat the sensory areas of your tongue and mouth, enhancing your ability to appreciate the many nuances of the wine.
8. Red wine is healthier than white wine. The red grape skins that ferment with the juice contain compounds that are powerful antioxidants. One of these, resveratrol, has been proven to be a key to our overall health.
9. All grape juice is white (with one or two minor exceptions). Red wines derive their color from the grape skins, which are fermented with the juice and thereby impart the familiar color to the wine. Corollary: Red grapes can produce a white wine; just remove the skins before fermentation begins. A classic example is sparkling wine, which invariably is produced from some or all red grapes. Brut Champagne is part Chardonnay and part Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier; Blanc de Noir (White from Black) on the label signifies only red grapes were vinified in the production of the wine; Blanc de Blanc – you’ve got it – only Chardonnay was vinified. Rosé Champagne signifies that the skins of the red grapes used in production were allowed to sit with the fermenting juice for a very short period, just long enough to infuse a light red/pink color to the wine.
10. Need to chill a bottle of wine quickly? Don’t put it in the fridge or the freezer. Rather, place it in an ice bucket filled one-quarter with water and the remainder with ice. Fill as high as possible in order to surround the neck of the bottle. Add a hearty pinch of kosher salt, wait 10 minutes, open and pour.
Feel free to refer to these facts whenever you wish to impress friends with your wine knowledge, but most importantly to better understand the fundamental precepts and practical wisdom of wine appreciation.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 20 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at or on Twitter @sharingwine.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.