Mike Cohen, the College’s resident sommelier who is developing a VR wine appreciation course for students and alumni, offers a six-pack of wine-buying tips.
1. Download an app such as Pocket Wine or Hello Vino. “When most people buy wine, it’s usually to pair it with food, and these apps can help,” says Cohen, who teaches three different beverage courses.
2. Find a good local wine shop where the proprietor will get to know you and your tastes. “They’re going to ask you what kind of foods you like. What kind of spices, flavors and aromas do you like in wine? Then they can start to get a feel for what you want. Once you get a shop that understands your palate, they keep track of all your purchases so they can recommend similar vintages to try.”
3. Don’t shop by price. “Everybody has a budget in mind, but it’s important to be open minded. People are as turned off by a low price as they are by a high price. There are a lot of good wines for $5 if you know what you’re looking for, but most people don’t, which is why it helps to find a good wine shop.”
4. Don’t buy a white wine more than three years old. “They’re meant to be drunk within three years of production because of the way they’re structured.”
5. Examine the neck of the bottle closely. “The fill should be almost to the cork. If it’s down by the shoulder where the bottle begins to round out, that’s a sign of leakage. You should also be able to spin the foil cap. That means that there’s been no leakage through the cork. Wine has residual sugar that will make the cap stick when it dries out.”
6. Skip the vacuum stopper if you don’t finish the bottle. “Just cork it and put it in the refrigerator. When you take all the oxygen out, the wine begins to deteriorate. White wines will last two or three days in the refrigerator, while reds stay good for up to two weeks. By the way, box wine will soon be the rage. The box doesn’t expose the liquid to any light, and the liner and funnel don’t expose it to any air. A box wine will last 6 to 12 weeks in the refrigerator.”