If there’s one thing that can make you seem bare minimum classy, it’s knowing a bit about wine. The problem is that actually learning, and being genuinely knowledgeable about wine, is hard and most of us are lazy. So if you’re like us here at Margot and have the life mantra “fake it ’til you make it”, then here are some tips to sound like you know what you’re talking about – even though you really know jack all.
Don’t guess the type of wine
Don’t be tricked, this is your biggest potential downfall. Noting the “dry notes” of a Sauvignon Blanc when you’re actually drinking Moscato is going to out you very quickly. You need to avoid saying the name of a wine unless you’ve had a chance to read the bottle and verify the type yourself.
Personally, I can barely tell the difference between a Merlot and a Shiraz when handed it blind. The extent of my wine knowledge is whether or not it’s red.
Figure out what actually you like
The best thing to help you help yourself, is figuring out what kind of wine you actually like – because you can then stick to that type.
For example I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir, so I will literally always pick this when available. I will also tell people I only drink Pinot, but worst case have Merlot tucked away as my backup. This isn’t because I’m neccessarily a fussy bitch, although I definitely am, it’s because I can stand the cheap stuff of both types
Stating the kind of wine you’ll drink before choosing also implies that you drink enough wine to know what you want. This in turn implies you may actually know something about what you’re choosing, and have opinions on why this is the best choice.
The easiest way to figure out what you will and won’t drink is to go to a wine tasting. If you live close to vineyards, or Martinborough, a number do wine tastings for about $5. This means you can get drunk and make life choices about what you’ll drink in the future. If this isn’t a viable option then you can still do the same, but instead hit up your local supermarket and get a selection of $10 bottles – not necessarily all at once, but you do you.
Learn the lingo
Once you’ve picked what kind of wine you can stand most people tend to fall into a red wine or white wine category. This determines how to use the next step for tricking people. Depending on the kind you will need to actually learn some basic phrases, and use them carefully at appropriate times.
The catch all’s are your best friends. For red wine you’re going to want to “note the tannins”. You don’t need to know what they are, you just need to say it. For white wine you can “note the fruity undertones” if it tastes sweet, or comment on how dry it is if it’s dry.
Again you don’t have to know what you’re saying – all wine is made of grapes, grapes are fruit, all wine will have a fruity undertone if you need to defend this. Not all wines are created equal when it comes to fruit undertones though, so don’t name the type of fruit or how strong they are. Specific detail is your enemy.
Also – if they actually know about wine, let them do the talking
If you meet somebody who actually does know about wine then you have two ways you can play this. If you don’t need to impress them and they’re actually passionate about wine you should just shut your mouth and let them. People who are passionate about a subject are happy to go on and on, regardless of what the subject is. They’ll also figure you out far too quickly and you’ll just embarrass yourself.
On the other hand if they know a little about wine themselves, you can use key phrases to trick them into stating their own opinions which you can then agree with. The kind of wine isn’t important for this trick, you simply need to taste if it’s sweet, smooth or sharp. Sweet is self-explanatory and will only ever be a white wine. Smooth can be red or white, as can sharp, and if it doesn’t leave a tangy / dry / sharp aftertaste then you want to say smooth.
Simply say “That was more smooth / sharp / sweet than I was expecting, what notes are you getting” and then agree as appropriate.
Apply the $20 rule
This is the easiest of all the rules. $20 is a safe amount for wine. If you’re in a nice restaurant or bar then you’re going to want to go for the wine around $15 – $20 a glass if you want to seem like you know what you’re doing. Combine this with the wine type rule as above.
If you’re in a supermarket generally $20 for a bottle is a good rule of thumb, as most people seriously can’t tell the difference between a $20 bottle and a $40 bottle. If you’re supposed to be sharing with someone who definitely does know more about wine, then ask them for their ‘recommendation’ and just get exactly what they say.
Do all of this and you too can trick people into thinking you know about wine.