We asked an expert how to pretend you’re really into wine

You can’t get away with describing everything as ‘fruity’

According to the latest ONS nationwide survey on alcohol, wine is our favourite drink.

Plus, being into wine is a convenient way to suggest that you’re intelligent. It makes you seem several ranks more attractive than you actually are. Unfortunately, it also requires money and access to a “cellar”.

Alternatively, you could ask an expert how to blag it. We asked a few in order to crib up on what grapes are “going big”, the difference between a Pinot Grigio and a Pinot Noir, and how to develop the vocabulary to say something more meaningful than “this is a fruity little number”.

Red, white or rosé?

When you’re trying to make a good impression, you must select preeminence over preference, says Fergus Stewart, a private account manager at London wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd. “There’s a preconception that red is smarter than the other two,” he explains. You must pretend to like red, even if it makes you feel nauseous, then. 

However, prescience about trends is also a way to look like you know what you’re doing: you could try and “call” the next big wine.

“You definitely have to consider [rose]  a proper wine”, says Fergus. “Historically it was viewed as something you just quaffed on holiday but there’s some very serious wine makers making some very serious rosés now.” Say that.

Drop some grape varieties, but not too many

Don’t parrot a compendium of wine terms: our experts were unanimous when they agreed keeping it simple is best. “There are classic grape varieties everyone knows: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay [for example]. These will be a lot of people’s entries to mainstream wine,” says Fergus. “Don’t try to impress by mentioning loads of random stuff.”

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Budget wines are alright but don’t go too budget

This isn’t pre-drinking in halls. Miles MacInnes, sales and marketing director for specialist wine supplier Jascots, is scathing about Blossom Hill (“it’s really horrible and looks really bad”), though concedes “some Gallo wines are pretty good”. However, “they won’t impress anyone if you take them round to dinner”.

Wines you could mention

Miles insists the new trend this year is “back to the Old World”. Here are some things he recommends mentioning:

  • Italian regions like Marche and Alto Adige
  • That there are “really exciting” red wines being made in Garnacha in Spain (mention Montsant)
  • Talk about savoury flavours coming from the Loire Valley in France (especially Saumur-Champigny wines)

What else? “I would expect to see rosé from the South of France remaining very popular,” adds Fergus. “And you’re going to see people looking away from Sauvignon Blanc towards things like un-oaked Chardonnay. Pinot Noir remains very popular as well.”


Mix it up when you go to a dinner party

“This depends how well you know your host and what they’re into,” suggests Fergus. “I think a bottle of white and a bottle of red is always a good compromise for taking to a dinner party.”

Take wines that match each other. Sauvignon-based white is a good match for a Cabernet red, and Chardonnay pairs well with Pinot Noir.

It’s still important to match wine to food

Read the back of the wine label to find out how to pair it with what you’re having for dinner. If it’s a strong red, it will go well with dark meat or cheese. “Riesling is a great match in general for spicy or aromatic foods and Italian reds are very versatile for matching,” suggests Miles.

Or learn for free

One way to pull together a vast wine knowledge without actually paying for it is the go to specialist tasting sessions. They do them at Majestic wine stores (there’s one in Shoreditch) and Whole Foods holds them periodically.