While good food and wine pairing is always to be encouraged, even the best wine can be reduced to ruin on one’s tongue under certain conditions. Here are six things to avoid before sipping on what would be a delicious glass of vino:
1. Breath mints. We all want to have fresh breath, especially on dates, but sucking on or chewing a handful of strong peppermints will unfavorably color any wine you taste for about 10-20 minutes afterward. The same goes for brushing your teeth before a meal.
2. Hot chili peppers. These are found in many salads, but even a mild chili pepper makes all the wine you drink afterward taste dull and even a bit diluted.
3. Drinks from the bar. Cocktails work quickly to dull your perception of a wine’s subtleties. 3-star chef Fernand Point even warned that, “After one cocktail, or worse yet, two, the palate can no more distinguish a bottle of Mouton Rothschild from a bottle of ink!”
4. Vinegar. Again, it’s a popular salad topping (think “oil and vinegar”) but its high acidity blocks the tongue’s ability to taste the subtle flavors hidden in many high-quality wines.
5. Asparagus. Sometimes this great veggie can turn a sip of wine into a V8 commercial.
6. Eggs. Yes, hard-boiled, they often appear in salads. (Sounds as if I’m dissuading you from having a healthy dinner!) But egg yolks can leave a thin coating on your tongue that also insulates you from experiencing a wine’s more delicate flavors.
The above "wine blockers" are often why, at a dinner where everyone’s dish differs, some people--all with the same taste in wine--really enjoy the table’s bottle of wine while others don’t. Food, mints, and cocktails have more say in wine perception than most people think! So the next time you order a bottle at your favorite restaurant, try skipping the pre-dinner mints, drinks, salad additives, and asparagus. The wine you try next might just be one of the best you’ve had with a meal!