Should you be swirling your wine before consumption?

by Aug 31, 2021Eccentric Somelier0 comments

DEAR READER,

Through all the melodrama of the past few weeks, I’ve neglected to educate the newcomers about the art of winetasting. So, I dug deep into my inbox for this query:
Sommelier Ferdinand,

I went to a ball last night and wasn’t aware of the proper pre-drink swirling of the wine glass. What’s the point of swirling a glass? Doesn’t wine stain clothes? It seems risky. I’ll do it next time, but I simply can’t wrap my head around the practice. -Jordan

First of all, Jordan, I’m sorry that you embarrassed yourself at this social function. Don’t take it personally; consider yourself another failure of the public education system. For years, I’ve been telling instructors they should teach proper winetasting in secondary school. But they’ve ignored me, and here you are, at this ripe old age (I assume), looking for guidance. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Bear with me and keep in mind that I’m the one with the experience.

We drink wine for the taste, not the intoxication. If you disagree with this basic premise, close this window immediately and take up beer-drinking. Because we want the taste of wine, we have to do some pre-sip work to bring it out. And that’s the reason we swirl our glasses and stick our noses inside.

Wine rests for months or years before being consumed by sophisticated folk like ourselves. But, unlike a Coca Cola or Estathé, wine needs oxygen to open up. So, we grab the glass’ base and give it a few swirls. I enjoyed making a show of my swirls when I was younger, but nowadays, a subtle flick of the wrist will do. You’ll find your own style, Jordan; what’s important is that you’re giving the hidden aromas oxygen to bind to, thereby releasing the tasteful notes within. There’s no need to swirl for more than five or ten seconds—anything more could diminish the taste.

Now that the wine has been prepped to maximize flavor, you must prep yourself… with the sniff. Be warned: the sniff separates the wine-drinkers from the children; you can see this for yourself at any dining establishment. Here’s how it works: our bodies don’t use solely our tongues to taste. The olfactory sense is linked to our noses, as well. And so, we use both our noses and mouths to taste wine’s natural flavors, which, if you’ve properly swirled your glass, will be waiting for you.

Don’t be self-conscious, either! Drop your nose in the glass and take a firm sniff. In fact—“sniff” isn’t the right word: take a wholesome whiff of the wine, and make an effort to relish the moment. Take in the taste, and it’ll make your taste buds more-than-excited for you to take a delicious sip.

Once you’ve swirled and whiffed, Jordan—your reward will be waiting for you. Right there in your hand. Enjoy!
-Sommelier Ferdinand. 18.8.21

Explore More from Our Blog

Ever heard of a wine cocktail?

DEAR READER, I hope some of you learned from the reader letter last week [hyperlink to Week Ten post] and checked your attics! You never know how much wine sits above you, waiting to be uncorked and decanted—on someone else’s dime! Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, I have a...

What on earth is a ‘Wine Decanter’?

DEAR READER, It’s come to my attention that many of you are ill-informed, misinformed, and frankly, uninformed about how wine is to be consumed. Were I only a wine enthusiast, it would be wholly dispiriting. But—wine is my profession, and I’m obligated to recognize...

“What’s My Next Question?” – Benjamin Kaplan

What’s My Next Question? On a random day like today 11 years ago, a legendary Harvard Law professor and lawyer, Benjamin Kaplan, died at 99 years of age. A rich, marked life that left an impact long after his last breathe. Apart from influencing the likes of Ruth...

Wine that Makes You Look Up

Wines that Make You Look Up Can you imagine having a device that magnifies your view and never thinking to look up, never pointing it toward the sky? Until August 25, 1609, nobody had. Enter Galileo Galilee, the man who changed the way we see and interpret all that is...

Sommelier Ferdinand answers “What’s the point of drinking wine from a hundred years ago?”.

DEAR READER, I’ve heard what you’ve all had to say, and I’ve decided to reach out to Jerry, once again, to bury the hatchet. Who’s to say if he would be open to making amends… but I made the effort, on behalf of all you insightful readers! I’ll keep you all updated on...

BOXED WINE AND AN ANGRY RECIPIENT – A FOLLOW UP

DEAR READER, Something unprecedented has happened. My assistant has received an additional letter from Jerry. Remember him—from last week [READ HERE] Well, our beloved wine purist wrote back after reading yesterweek’s column: Sommelier Ferdinand, I don’t care about...

Transcending Time through Wine

On August 11, 1888, The Scientific American published its 658th issue, replete with exciting findings. From “A Study on Whirlwinds,” to “The Distillation of Peppermint" and thoughts on the human conscious, this popular science magazine had already been around since...

Boxed Wine and an angry recipient.

What an experience, to receive all your criticisms. That would shake any normal individual. But I’ve spent years having my judgments under a microscope, so I’ve learned to shut my doors to it. You are all welcome to try—but I won’t be changing any time soon! Speaking...

Sommelier Ferdinand answers “What it takes to become a Sommelier”.

DEAR READER, As the grapes grow richer, so do the bottler and buyer! Wine is an investment, my dear readers. Never forget the long game! Now, for some advice you folks have solicited: Sommelier Ferdinand, I want to be a sommelier, like yourself. I have the respect for...

Harry Potter and the Magical Creation of Seña 2007

On July 21, 2007, J.K. Rowling released her seventh and final book of a most memorable series. In just 24 hours, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold more than 11 million copies! On that same day, in a land more fascinating than Hogwarts, Seña 2007 was getting...

This week Sommelier Ferdinand answers the difficult question “Which do you prefer: Red or White?

DEAR READER, Some wrote in after last week, wishing me happiness…? Sending me love…? What do you all think, I’m still in love with Matilde? Save your pity for someone who needs it, I beg you! Anyway: Sommelier Ferdinand, Which do you prefer: Red, or white? -Clarise...

What do former First Lady of the United States, Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and our Émeri Cuvée wine have in common?

On July 28, an icon was born. A lady with poise, mystery and bravery. A lady so well known, yet little understood. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie O. As the First Lady and alive, or just a memory in 2021, Jackie stood out. Great Châteaus are a lot like that too,...