In the Bar/ Restaurant Waiter Takes Order From a Diverse Group

Answers to Questions You May Be Afraid to Ask about Wine

Although it is one of life’s many pleasures, wine can also be intimidating. As you continue to learn more about (and enjoy more) wine, you may come across some questions that you are afraid to ask. We have your answers.

Do I always have to have white wine with fish and red wine with steak?

As a general rule of thumb, you can pair white wine with fish and red wine with heavier meats, such as steak. But don’t forget that fish, steak, red wine, and white wine all come in many different forms and offer many opportunities for “breaking the rules.” Consider, for example, salmon. This more meaty and full-flavored fish pairs beautifully with Pinot Noir (especially when the salmon is grilled, since the char adds to the weightiness of the dish). And consider steak in a more delicate form, tartare: the dijon, capers, and anchovies that are often included in a steak tartare recipe pair beautifully with non-fruity, spicy white wines.

Need some more assistance? Read our “Guide to Pairing Seafood with Red Wine” article for some more tips.

Can I have wine with chocolate?

Sure. You can pair whatever you’d like with whatever you want! But remember that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) actually has tannins, and these tannins can sometimes clash with the tannins in red wines. As a general rule, try to enjoy a wine that has less tannins and more sugar than the wine: a fortified wine such as port or a Banyuls will complement chocolate and chocolate-based desserts.

Is there really a special glass for all wines?

There are many multi-purpose glasses that work well with most varietals. While at a wine tasting, feel free to ask about the glasses that the winery or wine merchant has chosen, and what they feel this particular glass offers. They will be happy to explain their choice and guide you when it comes to wine glass purchasing.

When do I have to decant or aerate?

Remember first that decanting and aerating are two different things: decanting is pouring the wine into a decanter in order to separate the wine from the sediment, and aerating is incorporating air into the wine in order to bring out the wine’s flavors and aromas. (We should also note that the process of aeration occurs during decanting.)

Most wines will benefit from aerating: open an older bottle of wine (more than a few years old) about an hour before dinner to allow it to breathe. Decanting is for wines (both white and red) that are roughly 15 years or older; decant about 30 minutes before serving.

Do all wines need aging?

Not all wines are made for aging (although the majority of wines offered by Quigley Fine Wines are selected because they have exceptional aging potential). A wine’s aging ability is based on its grapes, winemaking practices, and the vintage (some age better than others).

What’s a crowd-pleasing wine for parties?

It can be difficult to select a wine that will appeal to a group of people. However, consider the word “appeal”: what makes a wine appealing in the first place? Try selecting a lesser-known varietal or region: this will spark conversation, and even the wine nerds of the group will be eager to try it. Another “appealing” aspect of wine is its story: select a wine that has an interesting story related to its winemaker or its history. You can share this story while you share your wine.

When all else fails, bring sparkling wine! Sparkling wine is always a crowd-pleaser.