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Sommelier Answers Wine Questions From Twitter

Sommelier André Hueston Mack answers the internet's burning questions about wine. Why do people swirl the wine glass before drinking it? What's the difference between sparkling wine and champagne? What are the different types of wine grapes? What does it mean when they say a wine is dry? André answers all these questions and much more! Director: Lisandro Perez-Rey Director of Photography: Francis Bernal Editor: Louville Moore Expert: André Hueston Mack Line Producer: Joseph Buscemi Associate Producer: Brandon White Production Manager: Peter Brunette Production Coordinator: Kevin Balash Camera Operator: Constantine Economides Audio: Brett Van Deusen Production Assistant: Ryan Coppola Post Production Supervisor: Alexa Deutsch Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant Supervising Editor: Doug Larsen Assistant Editor: Justin Symonds Additional Editor: Paul Tael

Released on 04/25/2023


Hey, I'm Sommelier Andre Hueston Mack.

Let's answer some questions from Twitter.

This is wine support.

[energetic drum music]

@agentBrownEyez asked,

why do people swirl the wine glass around

before they taste it?

You see a lot of people doing this.

I know it kind of looks pretentious,

but there's a reason why people do this.

Basically what we're doing here is aerating the wine.

The wine has been in its vessel, the bottle,

and it's been in there.

You know, a year or two,

you wanna open it up and you wanna let the wine breathe.

We expose the wine to oxygen,

it starts to like break down the tannins in the wine,

and make the wine a little bit more softer and approachable.

@winederlusting asked,

sparkling wine versus Champagne.

What's the difference?.

Sparkling wine can be made from anywhere in the world.

So technically speaking, Champagne is sparkling wine.

Old world style wines are named after a place.

Champagne is a place located in France,

and anything made in Champagne can be called Champagne.

Any sparkling wine

made outside of the region of Champagne in France

can be only be called sparkling wine.

It's generally speaking,

when you're talking about a sparkling wine,

this is probably made with what we like to call

the injection method.

So COT is injected into a still wine,

that produces the bubbles in it.

And you're talking about Prosecco.

This is Champagne.

How the bubbles get in the bottle,

are a little bit differently.

There's a secondary fermentation,

that happens inside the bottle.

Yeast and sugar are added and the byproduct that is CO2,

that's the gas in the bubbles that you get in it.

Champagne can only be made

through the secondary fermentation

that happens in the bottle.

@Bocavin1 asked,

what are the different types of wine grapes?

There's probably about 11 of them,

but the ones most commonly used in making wine,

is called Vitis Vinifera.

So you have the species,

and then from there you go into the grape varietals.

You most commonly know something like Chardonnay, Riesling

Saigon blanc or whites, right.

Reds, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah.

So grapes that are used in making wine,

are very different than grapes that we consume,

you know, in our homes or we have in the refrigerator.

The ones that we consume are really big, juicy,

and those aren't really great for making wine

with this particular species.

The grape varietals we're talking about,

they're very smaller clusters, tightly bound.

You know, they have a little bit more impact,

on the wine that they're making

because of the skin to pulp ratio.

So they're smaller, that means there's more skin

to the pulp that's in the inside of the grape.

Those grapes are much better for making wine,

than say the the larger and more juicier ones,

@cutiewithcrohns asked,

Wait, what does dry wine mean?

How can it be dry if it's wet?

In wine terminology, dry means that the wine is not sweet.

You know, you hear people talk about tannins,

you hear people talk about body, acid, fruit,

and that's just like the fruitiness of the wine,

body is just you know, how it sits on your pallet.

If it's full body, then it sits pretty heavy on your pallet,

and it kind of has like a long, you know,

a longer aftertaste.

Light body wines tend to like, you know,

kind of dance on the pallet a little bit,

but not as long or lingering.

And if you're talking about tannin,

oak imparts tannin, from the wood.

So it's this drying feeling,

that you get in the insides of your cheek.

Very much like, you can experience that

drinking like, black tea, right?

When we talk about wine that's aged for, you know,

10, 20, 30 years, a lot of those wines have tannin.

Tannin is a longevity.

@flight_wine_bar asked,

why store wine on its side?

And when you're storing wine over long periods of time,

it's important to have the liquid inside the wine bottle,

be in contact with the cork.

This keeps the cork moist,

so it doesn't dry out over time,

and become brittle and allow oxygen

to come in to the bottle and destroy it.

But if you store it like this,

you see that there's the gap here.

But if you store it on its side,

now you see the cork is in full contact with the wine here.

@Jeanwandimi asked,

how do you read wine labels when shopping/ordering?

We talk about old world wines,

which are generally from Europe,

and then we talk about new world wines,

which is North America, South America and Australia.

So old world wines,

are generally named after the place that they're grown.

Sancerre is Sauvignon Blanc

from the Sancerre region of France.

It doesn't say Sauvignon Blanc anywhere on this bottle.

New world wines are generally, lead forward with,

what's actually in the bottle.

They lead with the grape varietal.

So, this here, it says Cabernet Sauvignon.

Then it talks about where it's from, from Napa.

And what's interesting, in California,

you only have to have 75%,

to actually put the grape on the label.

Each region has its own governing body,

that lays out the rules,

for what can be happen, in said wine region.

This bottle of wine,

contains at least 75% of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Legally you can add different grape varietals,

you know, to complete the a hundred percent blend.

@Mo163_ asked,

are we ever going to discuss

how wack Chardonnay is as a wine,

and that it is the most inferior from white wines?

Some of the most prized white wines in the world,

happen to be Chardonnay.

It's all about your taste.

You're an expert in your own taste.

Me as a Sommelier, I'm just a tour guide, right?

And I think there's been, the blowback over the years,

there was a movement called abc,

anything but Chardonnay.

And I think that really pertained to, you know,

kind of, the new world styles of Chardonnay

you know, adulterate it with, you know, wood,

so they come off very vanilla-y,

a cinnamon, very toasty and slightly kind of ripe.

So a little bit of sweetness in them.

So if you think about, you know, Montrachet,

which is a very small vineyard,

located in Burgundy, in France,

those wines sell for thousands of dollars,

and are probably some of the most sought after,

and rare wines in the world.

So it's just a matter of taste and opinion.

I do like Chardonnay.

Up next, @opheliamuses asked,

there are so many different types of wine glasses.

Who decided which ones correspond to the wine type and how?

There's lots of different glasses, right?

For different types of wine that you're gonna enjoy.

And I have a few here, to kind of, show you.

Traditionally speaking, when you look at a flute,

this is something festive.

It's trying to capture the bubbles,

showcase the bubbles here, what we call the mousse.

You know, this is a hybrid, right?

So the idea, it's kind of sleek, almost like a flute.

Another fun way to be able to enjoy sparkling wine.

So this is your white wine glass.

The idea behind the white wine is,

it's gonna be a smaller glass, right?

You don't need as much air to surface ratio,

and it's gonna be a little bit more tapered in.

You want to kind of be able to capture the aroma.

So, a white wine glass,

tends to be a little bit smaller than a red wine.

When you think about a red wine glass,

it kind of acts as a mini decanter,

that gives you a little bit more surface to air ratio.

You can swirl the glass,

and then be able to able to enjoy it.

Port is what you considered a fortified wine.

It's wine that's been made,

and then you add alcohol to it to fortify the wine.

It is served in a smaller squatter glass, smaller glass,

because most people wouldn't consume a full glass of this.

Generally can be up to like 17%, 19% alcohol.

@WestVanCork asked,

can you send a bottle of wine back,

after you already started to drink it?

Ideally you're in a restaurant setting,

you can always send it back, right?

Whether or not they take it off their check,

is something different.

When you actually taste the wine,

you're tasting the wine to see if it's sound,

not if it's good.

Generally people send a bottle of wine back,

you know, if it's defective, right?

You know, if it's turned to vinegar,

or what you generally see, you know,

a wine affected by cork taint,

cork taint affects you know,

one bottle in a 12 bottle case.

Generally people don't send back a bottle of wine,

because it doesn't taste to their liking.

@Mayaayana asked,

why are wine labels/descriptions so pretentious,

and what does a wine being approachable mean?

I'm not trying to date it.

When you hear something like, approachable, balanced

well when a wine is balanced means that like,

if the wine is overly fruity, right,

then that wine is out of balance.

If the wine is too acidic, that wine is out of balance.

The idea of wine, and when it's drinking great,

and it's at its peak,

is when all of those things are seamless.

A wine being approachable, meaning,

that wine takes a long time for it to be ready to drink.

When you say approachable wine,

it just means that it's very easy to drink,

and not as complicated.

I actually don't use any type of wine descriptions.

I use emojis.

@arsonick14 asked,

why does the wine bottle have to have a cork?.

Wine, which is steeped in tradition,

we still continue to use cork.

You know it's bark from a tree, mainly in Portugal.

So you know, that's limited resources.

So, what you start to see is, synthetic corks,

composite corks, glass stoppers.

And you'll also see, you know, the screw cap.

Does a screw cap actually mean the bottle of wine is cheap?

And I would say no and yes,

this is the way I like to think about it.

Screw cap wines, are generally wines,

that are meant to be drank younger and consumed younger.

A screw cap is all about twisting the top off,

and getting the party started.

I think for people who are making premium wines,

and wines that traditionally age over time,

cork is the preferred method.

@Ozeeexx asked,

WTF is organic wine

Question mark, question mark.

Upside down question mark.

Upside down question mark.

[Andre laughs]

Organic is the way in which the grapes are being grown,

not using any pesticides, you can go one step further,

with the use of biodynamic,

was created back in like I think 1912 by an Austrian doctor.

You know, it follows the cycles of the moon, right?

But I think it's more a conscious effort,

to taking care of the planet.

Overall, it's bigger than just if it tastes better, right?

I think that the practices and the things that you do,

kind of really help preserve the earth,

and the longevity of our time here.

Next question, @thisismere asked,

So how does one turn grape juice into wine?

Like how does the whole fermentation process work?


So this process is fairly simple.

It could be complicated in some ways,

you know, it's a different process for white and red.

But overall the process is,

grapes come in, they're harvested,

they're crushed,

in some places they do what they call foot treading,

where you're actually stomping the grape with your feet.

A lot of times it's just put in a vessel,

and then the weight from the grapes on the top,

actually crush the weights on the bottom.

And then you're doing what's called punch down,

as the grapes are like, being crushed.

The skins and the pits and all that,

kind of, rise to the top, right, and create a cap, right?

And what you want to do,

is kind of keep immersing the cap down into the wine.

So it can pick up color,

and all the nuances that the grapes have.

To start fermentation, yeast is added.

So yeasts are these little cells that are introduced,

and they actually eat up all the sugars,

and what's kind of different, is then they expel alcohol,

and then after that it's bottled, right?

There's a few steps in between bottling, filtration,

clarifying the wine, and then it goes into bottle.

@Baronhawk asked,

what do you mean

gulping isn't the proper way to taste red wine.

So gulping,

insinuates that you're not really even tasting.

Wine, in order to appreciate it,

I like to think that like, you shouldn't gulp it,

but to each his own.

We poured wine, generally speaking for a taste,

you just wanna pour it to the widest part in the glass.

I'm gonna go ahead and swirl it.

Generally I like to swirl it before,

so I'm aerating it, let it open up.

I put my nose like right here in the glass.

So I inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth.

80% of taste is actually through smell,

so I'm really opening up my olfactory senses.

[wine swishing]

You heard that noise?

I'm kind of swishing the wine in my mouth.

This is all just aerating, just bringing air over the wine,

that kind of helps with, you know, taste.

Normally what I do is push the wine

through the front part of my teeth,

that you know affects my gums in a certain way,

and that tells me something about the wine.

If the sides of my tongue start to tingle,

that means the wine is high in acid.

There's not a drying out of the inside of my mouth.

So this wine tends to have a low tanin.

So I'm trying to confirm

the things that I smelled on the nose, on the palate.

So there is raspberry.

I do taste the tint of strawberry, hint of cranberry.

There's a minerality in the wine, you know, good acid,

and then when you swallow,

you're generally trying to see

how long you can taste it afterwards,

and that's what they call the finish.

@Quickvit asked,

is it only my wife

who thinks the wine fridge is necessary?

If you get to a point,

that you would like a wine fridge,

there is a purpose to them.

They keep the wine at a steady temperature is what you need.

You want it at the correct temperature,

but you also want it to be steady,

no vast kind of changes in temperature.

So if you pulled the white wine out of a wine fridge,

that's normally at 55 degrees,

you probably want to put it in the refrigerator

for a few minutes,

you probably want to put it on ice.

Red wine's served to you warm,

just really accentuates the alcohol,

so you get more of that burning sensation in your mouth,

of alcohol.

You want to serve your red wines,

around 65 to 72 degrees, something like that.

@MarcoMariani_IT asked,

how does soil influence wine quality?

The French, they talk about terroir,

it's a sense of place, right?

It is mother nature but it's also the soil, right?

You know, you look at something like classic like, Chablis,

which is chardonnay from France,

from the region of Chablis,

and that's actually grown on like a limestone,

really kind of chalky soil.

That really kind of, is the hallmark and signature,

when you're drinking Chablis, right.

It's that chalkiness, the flintiness that you get,

that's imparted in the wine.

Some of the best soil to use, is a Lomi soil, right?

It's very kind of crumbly and porous.

The idea when you think about a grapevine,

is that it's roots.

It's roots need to kind of struggle,

and that produces some of the kind of the best fruit.

And the only way to do that,

is the roots to kind of dig deeper for water.

When you look at your grape clusters,

you want them to be slightly tight,

but you want them to have shoulders.

That perfect fruit, and the way that it's grown,

has a lot to do with the soil.

@dirtywineglass asked,

hey wine Twitter,

question for you,

how do you decide whether or not to decant a wine?

What do you use as your guideline?

Vintage? Varietal? Producer?

Let's go ahead and decant.

So you have a bottle of wine here and this is a decanter.

You would decant a young wine,

a youthful wine, to let it aerate and to breathe,

and a second reason you would decant, is an older wine.

When you decant an older wine,

what you're doing is removing the sediment from the bottle,

and that allows you to have

a better drinking experience, so to speak.

And now you want to decant,

so we're just gonna take the bottle,

we're gonna rest it into my thumb,

and then we're gonna start to pour.

I think with more younger wines,

you can probably be a little bit more aggressive

in pouring it in the bottle.

Put older vintage wines,

you probably want to go like, slow and steady.

You wanna stop, right when the sediment

is trapped in the neck.

@ounoit918 asked,

do I really have to have a degree to be a sommelier?

What if I just have good taste

and like to tell people what to drink?.

A sommelier is really,

in charge of anything liquid within the restaurant.

In order to be a sommelier.

That's really a title,

that's anointed to you by a restaurant.

Although you get hired to be a sommelier,

there are organizations,

that you can kind of go through the ranks,

and reach some of the highest titles.

One being master sommelier,

another one being a master of wine.

So I think the master sommelier exam,

takes a minimum of five years to pass.

I got into wine by watching old episodes of Frazier,

and from there I caught, what we like to call the wine bug.

@SixDos asked,

are you supposed to have white wine with fish?.

The general consensus is white wine with fish,

a red wine with meat.

But these are some of the old guidelines

that still exist within the industry.

Most of the local winemakers and towns,

and people that made wine,

they made wine that went with the local food.

So a lot of times,

when I'm looking at pairings, I start regionally.

I look at where's this dish traditionally from?

What are the ingredients with it,

and what do the locals drink with it?

The idea of wine is to help reset your palate back to zero.

You can do it with a contrast method.

So that's like having, you know,

a pasta dish with a very creamy sauce,

and you know, using a buttery rich kind of, chardonnay.

So you're matching like with like.

Another way to do it,

is to take that same creamy dish,

and you wanna do a contrast.

You're gonna do something a little bit more higher in acid,

and lean to help cut through the richness of the sauce.

Lots of different ways to kind of combat it and look at it.

And it's more of like taste, than it is a science.

@JeffBoulton asked,

What is a cool climate wine region?

How does this impact the taste

and the quality of the wines?

So I guess the easiest way to kind of break this down,

is think about hot and cold.

If we think about cold regions, cooler regions,

we can talk about like champagne in Europe.

You know the idea that like,

it actually snows in champagne.

The difficulty with growing grapes in the cold region,

is that you can't really get the grapes to ripen.

So ripe grapes means that they have sugar.

So if they have sugar in them,

this is how you start the fermentation process

by adding yeast.

Cooler climates kind of suffer,

but in those years

that you can actually get the grapes to ripen enough,

cooler climates are the best,

you get lower alcohol, you get more nuance in the wine,

and you get kind of these great acidity.

You know, acid is an amplifier, right?

The reason why you put salt on food, lemon on seafood,

is really, to kind of crank up the flavors of the dish.

And if you look at hot weather,

it's kind of the opposite, right?

You don't want the grapes that get sunburnt, right?

The idea of having too much sugar in a wine,

can affect the wine also.

So wines that tend to have more alcohol,

tend to come from warmer regions, right?

And sit really heavy on your palate.

@TheMeatShack asked,

why does rose wine exist?

Rose is a category of wine,

much like white wine and red wine.

And within that,

there's many different grapes that can be used.

White wine grapes to make white, so to speak,

and red wine grapes to make red.

Rose is made from red grapes,

with a slight skin contact,

that gives it this pale kind of color.

A lot of red wine bleeds clear juice.

How it picks up its color, is the contact to the skins.

The longer that it's on the skins,

the longer maceration process,

and you get deeper color.

And rose, it's just a slight contact with the skins,

that produced this little bit of,

kind of, pale color that you see here.

@RobinBurcell asked,

what else is in this wine besides grapes?


Sugar can be added to wine, right?

It's called chaptalization.

So it's illegal in several countries, in several regions.

Like, you know, think about Burgundy in particular.

Sulfur is a byproduct of fermentation.

So almost every single wine has sulfur in it.

People use sulfur to sprinkle on grapes.

And like, sometimes you can overdo that.

And I believe it's somehow it's been linked

to actually people getting headaches from sulfur.

You know, byproduct of fermentation is histamines.

And I think that's generally what people are allergic to.

There's actually more sulfur in a slice of bread,

than there is in a bottle of wine.

But generally speaking,

what you have in the wine is about 95% water.

So those are all the questions for today.

That was really fun and interesting.

I could do that forever.

But I just wanted to say,

thank you so much for watching wine support.

[cymbals crash]

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