- World Of Wine
- Season 1
- Episode 12
Sommelier Answers Wine Questions From the Internet
Released on 05/19/2022
Like, that used to be true a long time ago.
It's not true anymore.
Like, about a cool wine label generally meant
that the wine was [bleeps].
Now, there's cool wine labels on cool wines.
I'm Sommelier Andre Houston Mack, and today,
I'm gonna be answering
some of the most commonly asked wine questions.
I think a lot of people are intimidated,
or don't want to ask the sommelier questions.
There's no stupid question.
If you really think about it, it's their job.
All right, so we have tons of questions loaded up here,
and I'm just gonna jump right in.
Is it okay to send back a bottle of wine in a restaurant?
This is an interesting question.
Yes and no.
You can send back a bottle of wine if it's bad.
That's the reason why they pour you a little taste.
You're supposed to check the quality of the wine
to see if it's sound, to see if it's not corked.
It's not to see if you like it.
And so that's where the confusion lies.
If there's something wrong with the wine,
definitely send it back.
The best thing to do is like call the sommelier
back over and ask them to taste it.
That's kind of the professional thing.
You say, Hey, I think this is a little off,
something like that, and let them taste it.
And at that point, they can decide.
That's generally the rule.
If you're sending it back because you just don't like it,
that's a little something different
and that's not a reason to really send it back.
Okay, next question.
Why are there indentations at the bottom of a wine bottle?
So it's actually called a punt.
This is the bottom of the bottle.
There's a big indentation in the back here.
And there's lots of different folklore.
People talk about, Oh, you're supposed to pour from it.
You can stick your thumb in it.
Or this supposed to collect the sediment in the bottom.
And it does some of those things,
but intentionally, it was actually done
so the bottle could actually sit flat,
and this was done by bottle makers.
So if there was any type of imperfection in the bottle,
it bow this way or this way, it wouldn't sit flat.
It would wobble when he put it on the table.
This was one way of making it stable.
All right, we're moving on to the next question.
What's with the slurping that wine pros do when tasting?
The slurping is just a kind of fancier way to aerate
and draw air into your mouth over the wine.
Wine is a living, breathing thing, and oxygen is the enemy.
So oxygen starts to attack the wine
and starts to break it down,
thus, softening the wine up.
It kind of takes off the sharp edges.
And then you get a better appreciation for the wine.
All right, Why do sommelier spit out wine
after they've tried it?
So we don't get drunk, duh.
In order to evaluate a wine, you don't have to digest it.
So you don't have to swallow it.
You can get a sense of what it is
by swishing it around in your mouth and spitting it out.
And you might thinking,
how do we get away with spitting on the restaurant floor?
Well, we use these little things here.
You're discreetly spitting in the spittoon,
and that way, no one can see it.
But it is considered a professional thing that you do.
They can't have you walking
around the restaurant floor being drunk.
Which wines should you chill and why?
Generally, when I read this question,
I apply it to red wine.
I think we all kind of assume that all white wines
should be chilled and cold, and that is true.
In America, I think we kind of have a crisis.
We serve a lot of our white wines too cold,
and a lot of our red wines too warm.
So if you read all the classic wine texts,
red wines should be served at room temperature.
But when they actually wrote those books,
the room temperature was 65 degrees.
When you introduce heat or produce warm red wine,
it accentuates the alcohol.
So you can really taste the alcohol,
and it doesn't really make for a great pleasant
wine drinking experience.
When you chill white wines
and serve white wines way too cold,
you kind of mask the flavor.
So I have this 20/20 rule.
It's very simple.
You wanna take your white wines outta the refrigerator
20 minutes before you want to drink them.
And you actually want to take your red wines
and put them in the refrigerator 20 minutes
before you'd like to drink them.
The flavors are a lot brighter.
It doesn't come with the weight of alcohol,
and it tends to be less full body in some ways.
Why do some wines give me a headache?
I get this all the time.
I think people associate it with cheap wine,
or a lot of people talk about sulfites.
This wine doesn't have any sulfites.
You know, I don't have headaches.
Every single wine has sulfites.
Sulfites are a byproduct of fermentation.
There's sulfites in bread, things,
and a lot of people are allergic to them.
But what you're really allergic to,
and what probably really gives you a headache
is actually the histamines.
Histamines are found in wine,
and people react to them.
So it's not sulfites.
Histamines in general exist in your body.
They're kind of like the, I guess the bouncer at the club.
Things enter your body.
Your body thinks that they're protecting you,
and so they start to push them out.
That's why you have a runny nose.
You start to sneeze, you'll start to itch.
But the idea of it is that if you incorporated more water,
maybe take some aspirin, and maybe not drink as much.
You should be fine, but I'm not a doctor.
So consult your doctor.
What is the proper way to hold a wine glass?
Proper way to hold a wine glass is by the stem.
There's a couple of reasons for that.
I guess the biggest one is that you don't want your hands
to alter the temperature of the wine.
So you don't want to really hold the glass
like this or like this.
You see people hold it like.
This altering the temperature of the wine
can change the experience.
So if you have, let's say a red wine,
a Cabernet from Napa Valley and it's served too warm,
it accentuates the alcohol,
so you get more of that burning sensation in your mouth.
Does that mean that you have to throw out
your stemless glasses?
The wine world is full of all these rules,
but are just only meant to be guidelines.
If you don't care about heating the temperature up
of your wine, it doesn't matter.
If you don't have a stemless glass,
get a paper cup, get a rocks glass, get a Mason jar.
Ultimately, you wanna drink the wine
and you wanna be happy with it.
Doesn't matter if you have a stem on your glass.
Can you gimme some tips on how to pretend
to be a wine connoisseur?
I would never call myself a connoisseur.
That seems so pretentious,
and part of the problem with the whole industry.
You don't have to be a connoisseur to enjoy wine.
Matter of fact, you should run from that term.
You know, I get this question quite a bit.
And over the years, I've just kind of decided
that it's just someone who just wants to fit in.
And I wanna show you just a few little tricks
that will kind of make you look like an insider.
You order bottle of wine.
The waiter comes over, presents the bottle of wine to you.
They'll take the cork and they'll present it,
and they'll sit it next to you.
And I think this is a confusing moment for a lot of people
because they're like,
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do.
And if you've seen old television and stuff like that,
you see pick people pick it up and smell it,
which is one thing that I would say don't do.
Smelling it is not gonna really do anything for you.
You know, it's just gonna smell like cork.
And what you're really looking for when the cork
is presented to you,
wanna make sure that the wine was properly stored,
meaning on its side.
And so if the wine was stored on its side,
that means that the cork is in constant contact
with the wine and should be moist.
You also wanna see if it's brittle.
You wanna see if there's any cracks in it.
That might tell you that maybe it
wasn't stored properly as well.
Finally, you wanna make sure that the label
on the cork actually matches the bottle
of wine that you have.
Is it common for those not to match?
Not really, but I've been in instances where it has.
Counterfeit wine is kind of a big thing,
but you only really see it on the most expensive bottles.
What's the stuff floating at the bottom of a wine bottle.
Does that mean that the wine has gone bad?
So the stuff floating at the bottom of a bottle
is just really the byproduct of wine
and the wine-making process.
As a wine ages in the bottle, it starts to deteriorate.
Slowly over time, the pigment starts to fall out
of the wine and forms what we call a sediment.
It's not a bad thing.
You can drink it.
You generally see that in old bottles of wine.
There's a second answer to this question.
The idea nowadays is like, if you filter and fine a wine,
you're kind of stripping away some of the flavor
in the wine.
So nowadays, in some really cool stuff like this,
so you can see how it's like traveling
all throughout the bottle, kind of looks like sea monkeys.
But you just see all these little particles, it's cloudy.
The thought is is that this is traditionally how wine
was made before they introduced things like filtering
and fining a wine, and gives more flavor to this wine.
If it's at the bottom, you don't have to drink it.
It's not bad.
It can't harm you.
A lot of people like that.
And for some, this is a sign
of low intervention wine making.
Is non-alcoholic wine actually wine?
Is there non-alcoholic wine.
Yes, that does exist.
I think that camp is they make wine
and then they de-alcoholic.
But what's been interesting over the last couple of years
is just making substitutes for wine
that kind of have some of the qualities to it.
And I think that's really where it gets interesting.
For me, working in a fine dining restaurant,
what we always use is this, which is really interesting.
This is Pinot noir grape juice.
So it's varietal, correct grape juice.
And so this is really sweet.
Yeast eats sugar and they poop alcohol, right?
So that turns it into alcohol.
If you stop that fermentation,
then what you get is sweet juice.
And this is where it gets fun.
And I really geek out on stuff like this.
This does have grape juice in it, Gewurztraminer,
but there's peppercorn, there's oolong tea.
There's all kinds of different stuff in it.
This is like really fun way to make this proxy,
if you will.
These are flavors that you would find in wine,
and making these mixes or trying to mimic the taste
and flavor that you get in wine
and enjoy it in the same kind of way.
Should I pay attention to wine ratings,
and what do they mean?
Yes and no.
Wine ratings are interesting.
I get why people are attracted to them.
It takes a lot of the guesswork out.
Wine is complicated.
From the outside looking in, it's pretty pretentious.
All these things that we always talk about.
And the fact that like,
if you don't know something about it,
you don't want to get took.
And wine could be expensive.
For me, I'm always about power to the people.
That's the only true way that you get to know it.
You don't have a rating system for burgers,
or for like soda.
You taste it and if you like it, you like it.
You don't need anybody to tell you if it's good or not.
And then what happens?
You have something like this, where they have metals.
So they enter these wines into a competition.
They have industry professionals taste all these wine blind,
and they get metals on them.
To me, it doesn't really mean anything
because I don't place the value on that.
It could be submitted to anything.
You don't know what these wines were submitted against.
The Oscars say something about a movie,
the best way to always evaluate it is to go see it yourself.
And ultimately, that's the same thing with wine.
You taste the wine, you like it, or you don't.
You go see the movie, you like it, or you don't.
Is it bad to pick a wine based on just a cool label?
Like when I started, this was definitely the case.
Now, it's totally different.
You know, there's lots of great wine with cool labels on it.
As you started to get lots of younger people into wine,
they kind of dropped all the rules.
It's just not script and cursive
and eight prints of Chateau.
There's like really cool examples
with really great art and mixed wine fun.
I wanna pull out these two bottles here.
What's cool about these particular wines
is that their cool labels.
And the wine that's inside is great.
They're not your granddaddy's wine.
They don't have script or Chateaus.
It's no one's name on it, which is cool.
And it just makes wine fun,
and you know, it attracts a different demographic.
I bought a $20 wine to a restaurant
and the corkage fee was $30.
I could have opened the wine myself.
Why is a corkage fee even a thing.
You're in a restaurant with professionals.
They allowed you to bring in a wine
that you wanted to taste and enjoy it with your meal.
And their professional staff is gonna take care
of that bottle of wine.
Open it, present it, give you glasses.
Going to a restaurant is just not all about the food.
It's about the ambiance.
Corkage fees can range from, I guess, $30, $25, $15.
I've seen some up to $150.
And the higher corkage fees are to deter people
from bringing just everyday bottles of wine.
It's acceptable to bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant,
I just feel in my case, if it's special.
If it has some sentimental value to you
that your grandfather gave it to you,
or he bought the wine when you turned 21,
now you're turning 40,
but not if like you're staying at the resort
down the street and they had six bottles that they gave you
and you packed them all up and go to the restaurant.
That's not cool.
And that's why they implement these fees
to kind of deter people from doing that.
How can you tell if a wine is bad when you open it?
This is a little tricky.
If you open the bottle of wine,
and it smells like cork or wet newspaper,
then it's corked.
The best way to be able to tell is to taste it.
If you taste the wine and it tastes
like it's been cooked or reduced down,
that's a flaw in a wine, and you don't want to drink
that wine as well.
If it smells like egg, you don't wanna drink it.
You can drink corked wine.
It won't kill you.
You can drink a faulty wine.
It won't kill you.
It's just not the way that the wine was intended
to be consumed, but you can drink it.
Okay. Last question.
Why does aging wine make it better?
Well, to be honest with you, that's all subjective, right?
In my opinion, I think aging a wine
makes the wine taste better.
It transforms from like this caterpillar into a butterfly.
It's truly what I believe.
But I think for some people, they like to drink young wine.
That whole idea that it's rich and round,
and it's got oak and leather, people like that.
So we can look at like two examples here.
Here, you have a wine that was produced in 2017.
And here, you have Cabernet Sauvignon, same grape from 1967.
This over time, as it starts to age,
a lot of the tannins starts to fall out.
A lot of the color starts to fall out,
and then it starts to break down.
It becomes what we like to call balanced.
And when we talk about balance in a wine,
it's like that none of the parts overshadow the other parts.
So if I taste this wine and it's too fruity,
then that's considered not balanced.
And so like, as this wine starts to age,
a lot of the fruit will fall out,
and then you'll start to pick up
some of those secondary notes.
Soy sauce, underbrush, mushroom,
all of those kind of things
will start to happen in the wine.
And then you get like this marvelous thing
when everything's symbiotic.
And that's kind of really what you're looking for
as you age your wine.
But what's cool about all the wine
is that it doesn't matter.
It's about your taste and what you like.
The big takeaway today is just ask questions.
There's not a dumb question.
I think a lot of people in the wine business are curious.
It attracts curious people.
And so by you asking questions means that you're curious,
and that you should be a part of it too.
If you wanna hold your wine like this,
you can hold it like that.
That's just not how I would hold it.
You see people hold it like this.
You can put your pinky out or not put your pinky out.
There's really no rule.
Starring: André Hueston Mack
Sommelier Tries 16 Celebrity Wines
Sommelier Explains Wine Label Red Flags
Sommelier Tries 20 Red Wines Under $15
Sommelier Tries 20 White Wines Under $15
Sommelier Tries 16 Boxed Wines
Sommelier Tastes the Same Wine at 5 Ages (1978-2016)
Sommelier Shops For Holiday Wines: Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve
Sommelier Breaks Down Every Wine Glass
Every Wine Tool a Sommelier Uses
Sommelier Tries 12 Sparkling Wines
Sommelier Pairs Fast Food And Wine
Sommelier Answers Wine Questions From the Internet
Sommelier Tries The Same Red Wine At 4 Prices ($18-$300)