8 Tricks to Make You Sound Like a Wine Expert

Reviewed by California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) Karen Frazier
Couple at restaurant

You're at a restaurant, and the time has come to order the wine. You can either start sweating bullets and consider hightailing it for the mountains as it dawns on you that you know absolutely nada about wine, or go from zero to hero by faking your way through your next dinner date with a few, very effective tricks that will make you sound like a total expert.

1. Know the Lingo

There is nothing like the sound of tumbleweed when choosing a wine, but thankfully a little lingo goes a long way - and will also stop you from looking as dumb as a box of hammers. Try brushing up on some wine descriptions that match those you like to drink and sneak them in as though you were born to do this. Love a Chardonnay? Try throwing buttery and creamy in there. Got a thing about Shiraz? Try dropping in words like fruity and jammy. If it's Bordeaux that rocks your world, then give the words earthy and spicy a whirl.

https://cf.ltkcdn.net/wine/files/100-Wine_Terminology.pdf
Download a glossary of wine terms

At a party, you can either stand there chewing on your forearms in despair, or make like a pro, confidently open a bottle, pour a drop, and proclaim that the wine is either big (if it has an expansive quality to it), or tight (if you decide it needs to be aired out before drinking). The trick is to know a little about the wines you love without going overboard and looking like a total crackpot faker.

2. Give Your Glass the Right Love

How you hold your wine glass can either make you look like a pro or scream Mickey Mouse operation! If you want to look like a supercharged baller, always hold the wine glass by the stem and never by the goblet - or hang your head in shame forever more. This keeps the wine at the temperature it is supposed to be for longer, which keeps it wine-licious for longer. And put that pinky finger away! It's the mother of telltale signs, outing wine novices everywhere, and looks about as graceful as a pig on ice.

This wine is perfect

3. Know the Five S's of Wine Tasting

After a greasy tangle of a long hard day, it's tempting to gulp your wine like you've been stuck in the Sahara Desert for a year straight. But if you want to look like a wine expert rather than a truckload of chihuahuas, you need to play it cool and take your time. This is when the five S's of wine tasting come into play - namely: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor.

Live by this mantra whenever a bottle of wine is presented to you in order to avoid looking like a schoolboy with a wet patch on his pants. Bonus - you'll instantly be bumped up a few echelons on the expert front. If you're only ordering a glass, exert your would-be-expert prowess by asking to taste the wine before ordering.

4. Ask the Sommelier

Does trying to decipher a wine list feel like a bushfire burning thorough your brain? You could stay nine deep in a valley of wine hell, or you could fake it by - shock horror - actually asking the expert! Although the thought of turning to the sommelier might leave you crippled with angst, know this: they are actually your secret weapon in looking like a wine aficionado!

In the wine cellar

This strategy takes minimal effort because you just have to vaguely know what sort of wine you like, e.g. full bodied, fruity, etc., and what price you are willing to pay. The sommelier will do the rest of the leg work by making a few recommendations for you. You can then bask in the glory of looking like a fellow expert by agreeing to one of their recommendations. *Hip bump*

5. If in Doubt... Decant!

Hosting a dinner party and want to avoid looking like a burbling wine ignoramus? Then you need some props. Specifically, those of the wine kind. If you're drinking red, decant the wine into a wine decanter to first let it breathe. Not only does this make it look like you know exactly what you're doing when in fact you haven't got a clue, but it also makes you look like the hostess with the mostest. And holy moly, decanting can even make the cheapest of wines taste better, so you'll be doing everyone a favor!

Red wine

6. Brush Up on Some Wine Trivia

There's nothing like rolling out some pointless trivia to fool unsuspecting company into believing you're an expert in anything, and this follows for wine too. As you casually pour the wine, try slipping in one or two of the following statements with a little "did you know..." to leave them paralyzed with wonder at your dizzying wine know-how.

Drinking red wine
  • Red wine gets its color because the grape skins are left to ferment with the juice. To make white wine, the skins are removed before fermentation.
  • The French didn't invent wine, the oldest known wine making was in Iran, back in the Neolithic period.
  • The Vatican has the highest consumption of wine per capita in the world, surpassing Napa Valley, France, and Italy.

7. Look Like a Pro in a Restaurant

The restaurant wine bottle ritual can be daunting, so it's easy to feel stressed when ordering a bottle. Fear not - it's actually easier than you might think.

  1. First, the server will show you the label. Look at it to make sure the bottle is what you ordered. If it is, nod. If it isn't, say something before he opens the bottle.
  2. Next comes the uncorking. This is where most restaurant patrons go awry by sniffing the cork when the server hands it to them. Repeat after me: Do. Not. Sniff. The. Cork. Instead, you can touch the wine end of the cork to make sure it's damp and look to make sure it's not crumbly; that's it. Alternatively, you can simply hand the cork back to the server. If you spot something weird, let your server know right away.
  3. It's time for the tasting portion! The server will pour a small amount into the glass. Hold it up to the light and take a look at the color. Take a sniff. Swirl, and take a second sniff. Now take a sip. You're looking for off flavors, aromas, and colors here. If you notice anything strange, alert your server. Otherwise, give another nod, and you're good to go. Wine ritual accomplished with no embarrassing faux pas.

8. Learn the Proper Pronunciation

If you plan to talk wine a lot, it's helpful to learn the appropriate pronunciation since many types of wines and grape varietals have sort of difficult to say names. Otherwise, you might wind up sounding like this guy:

When in doubt, ask. You can always point to a wine on a menu or in a wine shop and simply say, "I'm not quite sure how to pronounce this. Can you help?" Asking beats saying "Shootinoofiedoofiepoopie" the next time you wish to order this Rhône favorite. Then, remember it for next time so you sound like a real pro.

Fake It 'til You Make It

Feeling more like an expert? You know what they say... you've got to fake it 'til you make it. And until you do, this should have you winging your way through wine like a pro.

8 Tricks to Make You Sound Like a Wine Expert