True story: We recently made the acquaintance of the creator of a local website dedicated to all things male. After we inquired about the topics typically featured on the site, the author responded with something along the order of "You know...guy stuff. Bars, sports, beer, things like that." Intrigued, we pressed further. "Ever write about wine?" we inquired. The tart reply: "Well, no. I couldn't post anything like that. Guys don't really want to read about wine." Um, really?
We hope to hell that's not true. In fact, we're sure it isn't. What it may be, however, is a certain reluctance on the part of some men to admit out loud that they, on occasion, actually want to learn about and -- dare we say it -- drink wine. Hey, we're not saying that the average Joe wants to start memorizing vintage charts and spouting off trivia about the terroir in Alsace. But is he interested in having enough basic wine knowledge not to look like an idiot at a business dinner -- or worse, a date? Absolutely. To those gentlemen, this post is for you: the five essential kernels of wine wisdom every man should know.
5. How to open a bottle of wine A proper man should be able to open a bottle of wine with an actual corkscrew, not one of those ridiculous Rabbit gizmos. Because what are you gonna do if that thing ever breaks? Break the bottle open over your head? We thought not. Opening a wine bottle the old-fashioned way is not that hard. It does, however, require a decent-quality corkscrew, which is to say, not one that you got for free somewhere. A waiter's corkscrew (you can scoop one up for about ten bucks) works great and has something called a double-hitch, which makes breaking a longer cork as you try to pull it out damn near impossible. Use the serrated blade to cut the foil capsule, placing the bottle on the table or counter for support as you spin it around. Once the foil's off, use your index finger to plant the tip of the corkscrew in the center of the cork. Now turn and press the corkscrew firmly downward until the worm (yeah, that's what it's called) is fully inserted and the hitch -- that little lever thingee -- is resting against the lip of the bottle. Hold on to the neck of the bottle with one hand and just lift the handle of the corkscrew with the other until the cork is removed. (Note: If this still seems intimidating, you can find all kinds of wine bottle-opening videos on YouTube.)
4. How to open a bottle of sparkling wine. Let's be clear: The only time it's ever appropriate to crack open a bottle of bubbly and spray everyone within a six-foot radius with its contents is inside the Super Bowl winning team's locker room. And even then it looks kinda ridiculous. So don't be that guy, all right? Do this instead. Locate that little tab that's poking out of the side of the foil, near the top of the bottle. That's what you pull to get the foil started. After removing all of the foil, it's time to take the wire cage off. While you're doing that, remember to keep your hand covering the cork, because that thing can fly out at any point after the foil's off. With the cage on the counter, you're in the home stretch. Drape a dish towel over the cork and get a good, firm grip on it, then turn the bottle clockwise until you start to hear a hiss. The cork should remain in your hand and never, ever fly across the room; your goal is to avoid that loud, obnoxious pop at all costs. Keep it classy.
3. Knowledge of at least two go-to wines Every man should have at least a passing knowledge of no fewer than two (different) wines. Ideally you'd have a go-to white as well as a red, but if you're partial to one particular varietal, then just go deep with that one. The idea is to be comfortable with a handful of wines so that you can comfortably order one in a restaurant or purchase a bottle as a gift without breaking into a cold sweat. Huge bonus points if you've got a dessert wine and/or a rosé in your bag of tricks. Trust us: Chicks will go crazy for you.
2. Awareness that men actually drink rosé Speaking of rosé...have we mentioned that nowadays, all over the world, men drink lots and lots of rosé? Without reservation. With abandon. And so can you. But if you're not quite over that whole "guys don't drink pink wine" thing yet, consider a gradual progression, guided by an exploration of rosés based on the red-wine varietals you already know and love. Craving a hearty glass of cabernet? Ask your wine purveyor to point you toward a cab-based rosé. More of a pinot man? Same thing. Considering how crazy hot it's been lately, we guarantee that you'll find a rosé infinitely more refreshing to drink than your standby red.
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Let's say you're at dinner. Maybe you're with a client; it could just as easily be a family gathering, or the best of all scenarios: a date. And then it happens: The wine list lands in front of you with a thud. Don't sweat it; just remember the following and you'll be in good shape. A) Fifty dollars is generally going to get you a highly drinkable bottle of wine. B) Start with whites and then move on to reds (as the courses progress). C) Remember the old adage "what grows together, goes together" and order the wine that hails from the same part of the world as wherever the majority of the restaurant's (or your guests) dishes come from. D) If all else fails, look for (and order) a Côtes du Rhone (that's pronounced "coat doo rone") for its consistent crowd-pleasing drinkability or, if you're feeling flossy, a bottle of Champagne (bubbly goes with damn near everything). E) And finally, be man enough to pass the list to a lady if she knows her wine.