Whether you’re a seasoned wine drinker or are new to the grape game, there’s only one way to drink wine: like an expert. Matt Uva, a sommelier for Quantum Leap Winery near downtown Orlando, which is Florida’s only sustainable winery, shared with us how to do just that.
Q: What mistakes do new wine makers make?
A: The first one is really buying wine based on the label. There’s almost a rule of thumb that the cuter the label is, the worse the wine is. … There are brands out there that you can buy and over the course of the year that you’re drinking it, sometimes it’s from California, sometimes it’s from Washington, sometimes it’s from Spain, sometimes it’s from Chile. It doesn’t matter what they’re buying. They’re putting anything in the bottle, but they have you hooked because it’s a cute name. What you need to be looking at is where the wine is from. So on the bottle, there is a designation of place — in the business we call it an appellation — and that place will do as much for the flavor of the wine as the grape will.
Q: What is the ideal temperature to drink wine?
A: Here at the winery, our reds will come out at 55 or 56 degrees, so that is a slight chill. To replicate that if you don’t have a fancy wine refrigerator, basically, when you’re about to start cooking, throw your red wine in the refrigerator. Have a glass first, of course; you’re cooking. When you’re ready for dinner, a half an hour to 45 minutes later, that wine should be pretty close to the right temperature. Our whites we do about 10 degrees lower than that. Traditionally, Americans drink their whites too cold. So ideally you could take it out of the refrigerator as you start to cook, drink it at dinner, and it would be closer to the right temperature.
Q: What should you look for when choosing wine?
A: First, right off the bat is to look for the alcohol content. You have natural sugars in the grape. Yeast will convert them into alcohol, so with most wines, ideally, the higher the alcohol content, the dryer the wine. The other is, as you find a style [you like] don’t keep buying the same brand. If you find, “Oh, I really like pinot noir,” start playing around with regions and then see if you can narrow in on regions you like better than others. Then look for different producers, and you’ll find that different producers have their own kind of signature style. Then, when you’ve tried the different producers, find one that you really like, see what else they make, and try those wines as well. It’ll get you outside the same grape all the time.