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How to look like a wine expert (when you really have no idea)


Do you want to appear like you have a clue about wine and impress your date this Valentine’s Day?

If done effectively, knowing some basics about wine can be very helpful in many social situations like dating, meeting the parents or even business events.

TAFE NSW Winemaker Jane Hoppe, and former Winemaker at Bimbadgen Estate Winery explains how to impress your date (and the sommelier) on February 14.

  1. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Order It

A sure-fire way to look like you haven’t got a clue is to butcher the name of a wine. For example, it’s not Cab-er-net, it’s Cab-er-neigh. Take the time to learn a handful of wine varieties and regions such as Bordeaux, Pinot, Franc, Sauvignon and Noir.

  1. Be ready for the initial pour

A common misconception is that the server asks you to taste the wine to decide if you like it. It is most definitely not.  The purpose is to check if the wine is corked, which means the cork is defective and has given the wine a mouldy smell or the cork has not sealed the wine properly, causing the wine to go bad (oxidize). Asking to try a wine that is a screw top isn’t a good look.

  1. Don’t ask for the server’s opinion.

Unless you can hold your own in a conversation about the levels of sweet, dry, fruity and what grapes came from where, don’t ask for the servers recommendation, get to know the varieties of wine which you like the taste of and choose one. You don’t want to get into a conversation that is above your head in front of your date.

  1. Swirl your wine in the glass

Swirling allows the wine to be exposed to oxygen whilst allowing some aromas to escape the glass. Don’t do this more than a couple of times; only a small amount of swirling makes any difference.

  1. Don’t smell the cork

This is a very old-fashioned idea that actually reaps no benefits. All it does is put the smell of cork into your senses.

Stick by these guidelines and you’ll have your date thinking you know a thing or two about wine. Otherwise, you’ll have a funny story to tell!

Wine produced by TAFE NSW students is available to buy at the TAFE NSW Hunter Valley Hotel Academy in Kurri Kurri. For information on all courses available at TAFE NSW, visit or call 131 601.