Pro Tips for the Best LARP Ever!

– The Little Things for Full Immersion

“Honey, don’t forget. All 14 of my coworkers are coming over at 7 for the wine tasting. Go ahead and start opening and decanting the bottles. Oh and don’t forget to match the correct wine glasses with the wines we are serving.”

“Is that all?”

“Of course that’s not all. Make sure you cool the wines to the correct temperature and what ever you do don’t wear khakis and the red sweater.”

Great. I don’t even know what a decanter is, and all the glasses look the same to me. Temperature? Do I put some in the oven? And how do I open them? Will the beer cap thingy on my keychain work? I like my red sweater! Please help!

Don’t worry. Yes, I know it can seem like an unpleasant experience trying to impress others with your wine skills. Just take a deep breath. We are here to help. Just learn these basics and you will be ready to impress all those that venture into your home, even the in laws.

1. Opening A Bottle Of Wine

Ahhh, this is where it all starts. Get that thing open!
There are several types of wine openers on the market, so it’s best to figure out which one suits you. Most experienced wine drinkers prefer to use the waiter’s friend, which is the small portable corkscrew you see in restaurants. Portable, yes. Easy, not always. This corkscrew takes some practice to master. Other options include the butterfly (flimsy), the table top (large), the bunny ears (easy and effective), and electric (they will laugh at you.) When opening the wine, first attack the foil. If you have a foil cutter, simply slice around the top of the foil. Next, it’s time to insert the corkscrew. You want to place the point slightly off center, and normally rotate 7 times. To avoid breaking the cork, it’s best to turn the screw until there is about 1 turn left to make before becoming fully inserted. Eject the cork and walla, you got to the wine!

2. Decanting

You probably hear this a lot “Make sure you decant the wine before drinking it!” So what exactly does it mean to decant a wine? Basically, any wine (except for some older and rare wines) can and should be decanted. The process is simple. You pour the wine from the bottle to a glass pitcher or actual wine decanter. Then, let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes to breath before serving. There are wine aerator’s available if you don’t feel like waiting. These contraptions will decant the wine immediately so you can start serving. One misconception is that inexpensive wines, or those under $10, don’t need to be decanted. Not true! Actually, in many of these affordable wines, you will immediately detect a rotten egg or sulfuric smell, so decanting can vastly improve the overall taste and aroma of the wine.

3. Choosing the Glassware

The Cabernet Sauvignon goes in the little glass, Chardonnay in the big one? Wait, no, Cabernet Franc goes in the shot glass and Chenin Blanc you just drink out the bottle, right? Oh this is so confusing! How am I supposed to know which glass goes with which wine?

Calm down, it’s going to be ok. Yes, it’s true, wine can taste better or worse depending on what type of glass you are using. Of course, if your objective is to get drunk, then any vessel will work, such as a shoe or the toilet. However, if you are wanting to experience the optimal aromas and tastes of the wine, a proper glass is necessary. Studies have shown that the smaller bowl shape of wine glasses create a better atmosphere for the wine to breath properly, allowing all of the unique aromas and nuances of the wine to come full circle.

Yes, it is also true, different styles of wine perform better with particular glassware. White wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and even Pinot Grigio are better suited in a smaller bowl glass. The reasons are that it preserves the floral aromas and keeps the temperature cooler, both essential qualities of many white wines. Red wines are typically served in a larger bowled glass in order to give it a wider area to let the ethanol evaporate. Also, the larger bowl will make red wines taste smoother.

Like I said, don’t stress. You aren’t going to be graded or anything like that when you pour a wine into a glass at your party. My recommendation would be to start with your favorite wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon for example. Grab some glasses at the store that are best suited for Cabernet. As you begin to expand to other wines, go out and buy a set that’s suited for that particular wine. It will take some practice, but eventually you will know which wines taste better to you , and it will be like putting on your socks. Hopefully you already know how to do that.

4. Wear A Fanny Pack

This is essential!! If you are having a wine tasting at your house or are going to a fancy wine tasting at a local restaurant, always, and I mean always, strap on that fanny pack. This is where you will keep your emergency corkscrew, and it’s also a great place to keep all the discarded corks. It’s imperative you ask for all the corks because they are great for arts and crafts. Yeah, you are going to look awkward and everyone is probably going to laugh at you or just ignore you all night.

Ok, nevermind. Forget the fanny pack. Let’s move on.

No seriously that was a joke…NO ONE outside a service dog or an 80’s wrestler should ever wear a fanny pack!

5. Temperature

Just like any other beverage, temperature is very important when it comes to drinking wine. You don’t want a wine to bee too cold or too warm, and it will depend on what type of wine you are drinking as to which way to go. Typically, red wines are best slightly below room temperature, somewhere in the 53-69 degrees Fahrenheit range. Lighter red wines will tend to be better at the lower end of that spectrum. White wines, on the other hand, are better at a cooler temperature, usually ranging from 44-57 degrees Fahrenheit. Champagne you ask? That depends on the quality. The more affordable sparkling wines are better at very cool temperatures ranging from 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit, while your more expensive Champagnes will just fall in the white wine range.

In general, if you drink more of the affordable wines, slightly chilling them will help to eliminate some of the sulfuric odors. Also, if you let a wine get too warm, specifically above 70 degrees, you will quickly start to smell the alcohol due to the increased ethanol evaporation.

6. Preserving The Wine

So, the tasting is over and everyone has gone home. You look over at your dining room table to see 11 opened bottles, each with wine still in them! No, you don’t have to have a chug party to get rid of it all before crashing on the balcony. Every wine will have different lasting durations once opened, but it is imperative that you follow a few simple steps to get the most out of them.

First and foremost, no wine will make it all night if it’s still open! This is not called super decanting. It’s called ruining the wine. So, make sure you use a wine stopper of some sort to seal it. Next, most wines will store better in cooler temperatures such as the fridge. This slows down the deterioration of the wine and will keep it fresh longer. Also, keep wine away from direct sunlight and any other source of heat. Don’t put it in the oven or cuddle with it under the covers, no matter how good and enjoyable it was.

7. Names

This is very important.

When at a wine tasting, whether at home or out on the town, make sure that you give everyone in attendance a unique nickname. The snobbier the better. Biff is always a crowd favorite.

Maybe try Mr. Biffers.

Anything with berry in it works well, such as Mrs. Castleberry or Johnny Strawberry…or double down and add a berry and a worth like Deebelberryworth…Mr. Deebelberryworth.  Be creative.

8. Pouring The Wine

Sounds easy, right?

Just bite the cork off and turn the bottle upside down over a glass.

Seriously, you better not bite the cork off.

I already told you earlier how to open it. Pouring is easy but be careful. A bottle of wine typically contains a little more than 25 ounces, or 4 to 5 glasses per bottle. If there are 5 of you staring at the bottle, please don’t pour 2 large 12 ounce glasses into a beer mug. Just share it, ok?

Also it’s not like beer pouring it at a funny angle doesn’t change the body or flavor but it does look wicked cool like when Tom Brady gets a new haircut.

9. Holding The Glass

A wine glass is not a beer bottle, so don’t hold it like one. Yes, they are top heavy, so instinct would tell you to hold the bowl of the glass. Not only is this socially unacceptable, it will also heat up your wine. Just grab the stem and hold it. You then raise the glass to your mouth and drink it. See, that was easy!

10. Seating

When hosting a wine party, it is important to make everyone sit in certain areas depending on what type of wine they are trying. The significance of this is nothing, but it sounds like fun. Just tell them that certain wines go better with different room angles and seat textures.

Cabernet on the couch, Chardonnay on the floor, Pinot on a stool. Trust me, everyone will be talking about your weird wine party for months!

As you can see, hosting a wine party or attending one doesn’t need to be stressful. Simply following these basic ground rules will make everything go smoothly. Oh, and before I forget, please tell Mr. Biffers I said hello!

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