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Bluff your way through a wine dinner

By Debra Meiburg MW

By Debra Meiburg MW

If mutely listening to a table of wine lovers dissect a wine is as painful as a dental visit (sorry, Dr. Cheung), bluff your way through a wine dinner with this kit of secret tools.

Launch your wine bluff by dividing the red wines of the world into two classes: light-bodied and full-bodied. Dark, purple-coloured wines, such as shiraz, are full-bodied, whereas lightly pigmented ruby-coloured wines, such as pinot noir, are always light-bodied.

To determine whether you are drinking a light- or full-bodied red wine, gently angle your wine glass over your wristwatch. If you can read the time on your watch-face, (aha!) you are drinking a light-bodied wine. The best bluffing adjectives to use with light-bodied wines are strictly feminine. In that case, tip your glass forward a touch, peer at the colour and enthuse, “elegant colour” or “lovely colour” to your dinner companions.

If you cannot read your watch-face through the wine glass, then you are drinking a full-bodied red wine. This is your ticket to praise the wine in masculine adjectives. As any single girl knows, the words “dense” and “masculine” often go hand-in-hand, so start the bluff by commenting on the wine’s dense colour. You might declare admiringly, “ooh, dense colour” or “deep, handsome colour.”

When it comes to aroma, bluff your way through the inevitable glass swirling ordeal with this tip: dark wines smell like dark fruits; light wines smell like light fruits. Shortly after determining that you are drinking a light wine, proclaim, “lovely red fruit.” Heady with success, you might want to elaborate by proffering specific red-coloured fruit aromas, such as raspberry, strawberry or cherry. Play it safe, though: stick to red fruits. A few moments later, swallow a sip of the wine and, remembering to use feminine adjectives, declare it to be “sensual, seductive, silky.”

With full-bodied wines, start the aromatics ball rolling by declaring, “intense dark fruits.” Sniff the glass thoughtfully and then confidently announce any purple-coloured fruit aroma, such as blackberries, black currants or plums. After swallowing, if your mouth feels a touch dry and rough, this is your key to proclaim, “firm tannins.” By now, your table companions are so sufficiently impressed by your expert wine tasting skills that you can relax and nod wisely for the rest of the meal.

When drinking white wine, if the colour is very pale, almost the colour of water, then describe the wine exactly as you would describe a can of Sprite soda: lively, fresh, lemony and, yes, sprightly. The lighter the colour, the more likely the wine will smell of citrus fruit, especially lemons. Deeply coloured white wines are best compared to other yellow fruits, such as apples, pears, mangoes and pineapple.

Wine styles served will vary according to the menu and tastes of the host, but typically white wines are served first, followed by light-bodied and then full-bodied red wines. If the above secret tools are beyond your bluffing talents, then take a leaf out of famed wine writer Clive Coates’ book: simply nod sagely and pronounce, “very fine wine indeed.”

Comments 3 Comments for “Bluff your way through a wine dinner”
  1. Stuart Bailey on 02.12.10 at 12:07

    Thanks Debra,

    I’ll definetely be be trying some of these out, if anyone calls my bluff, I’ll tell them, that what Debra Meiburg (MW) said 😉

    Kung Hei Fat Choi!

  2. Marc R Kauffman CSW on 03.02.10 at 04:10

    Why bluff when you can actually learn!
    One of the biggest problems for consumers is that they are afraid to admit they just don’t know much about wine. Unfortunately the wine industry itself is mostly responsible for making wine more complicated than it needs to be. Drink what you like…that’s the best guidance.

  3. Debra Meiburg on 03.25.10 at 03:30

    Hi Marc, Thanks for reading and commenting! In Hong Kong we have many, many wine dinners, where easily a dozen glasses are served in an evening, and I have seen so many spouses looking ill at ease and wondering how to participate in the table conversation. The ‘bluffing’ ideas are actually all true and the article is just a tongue in cheek way to give people some easy tips to play. Debra

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