Winos will be raising their glasses for National Drink Wine Day on February 18. From food pairings to avoiding a headache, here’s how to prepare.
Now’s your chance to salute the beverage intertwined with human history (we can thank the Phoenicians for spreading it around the world). While there’s nothing wrong with just popping the cork out of your favorite bottle to commemorate this vino-lovers’ holiday, partaking in some pre-festivities planning can only make it more fun. Here are six ways to prepare for National Drink Wine Day.
1. Find Your Wine Match
It may come as a surprise that your taste in coffee, chocolate, milk, fruit and beer can dictate what type of wine is your best fit. The team at My Wine Tribe has developed a quiz based on the aforementioned and more to help you discover what type of wine will satisfy your taste buds most. You may think you already know, but National Drink Wine Day is a perfect excuse for a new wine adventure, so go ahead — be bold and take the quiz.
2. Exercise Your Wine Palate
Seasoned wine drinkers know the importance of a strong wine palate, consisting of your taste buds, tongue, interior of your mouth, and sense of smell. By paying close attention to how each reacts while drinking wine, you’re developing a wine palate that, as time goes on and you return to a favorite wine or try something new, makes sensory memories stick. Viogner, a white wine, for example, may create a memorable oily texture on your tongue. To develop your palate, you’ll want to drink slowly so your senses have time to experience the flavor and discover the wine’s notes. And don’t forget about your eyes and nose. Looking at and smelling a wine before you drink it will help you perceive the different-tasting notes, be they woodsy, expressive, melony, heady, floral or buttery, and discover the association with color to its viscosity.
3. Keep a Wine Diary
When you find something you like, you want to remember it, right? That’s why you need a personal wine journal to keep track of what you’ve tasted and how your senses reacted to it. That way, when National Drink Wine Day comes around, you’ll know what to stock up on. Want to avoid carrying a notebook to dinner? Get a wine companion app — Delectable, Hello Vino and Vivino are great options for both Android and iOS users. The apps also provide wine ratings, reviews and tasting notes through label recognition, as well as suggestions for food pairings.
4. Get the Perfect Stemware
I have zero issues with anyone drinking wine out of a mug, or even directly from the bottle. But, since National Drink Wine Day is a holiday, fancying things up won’t hurt. So many wineglasses are available for purchase, and choosing the right one can feel like a chore. Thankfully, Wine Folly has simplified things with a handy infographic that breaks down what type of wineglass suits your drink of choice.
5. Prepare the Best Snacks to Serve with Wine
Depending on what type of wine(s) you’re going to have on National Drink Wine Day, you’ll need snack pairings. Wine nibblers don’t have to be complicated, and with the following choices, you can’t go wrong.
Chocolate. With red or white wine, plain dark chocolate is a great choice. And if you like your wine dry, grab a richer truffle chocolate. For the more adventurous, prepare almonds covered in dark chocolate and sea salt or bark bites with your choice of toppings, such as goji berries, dried cherries, hemp seeds or shredded coconut.
Berries. February may not be the best time of year to purchase strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries, but they’ll go great with all types of wine. (Good Housekeeping has a great recipe for berries in red wine.) And you can even opt for the frozen variety — just defrost a bit and drop the berry into your wineglass for a sweet accompaniment.
Cheese. Wine and cheese are a quintessential pair. Bleu cheese goes great with port, while the bubbles in prosecco will cut through the saltiness of Parmesan (try baking it on fresh bread with olive oil). Party-favorite fondue matches well with dessert wine Sauternes. An aged Gouda can hold its own against cabernet sauvignon, while Gruyère pairs well with the fruit and nut flavors found in chardonnay. Merlot lovers will enjoy a good Monterey Jack, and for the pinot noir drinkers, Brie is the best choice (go wild and bake it with figs and walnuts). And those who enjoy the tanginess of goat cheese will want a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Bruschetta. Italian wine lovers know: the high acidity makes you salivate. And of course, Italian food is what you’ll crave. Bruschetta makes a great choice because of its bite-size capabilities, and the acidity of its fresh tomatoes works well with white wine.
Hummus. Red-wine drinkers will want to grab a cracker or pita bread and enjoy hummus with a dash of olive oil and paprika.
Nuts. Leave the peanuts in the pantry for when beer is on the menu. For National Drink Wine Day, you’ll want to snack on other types of nuts, like pistachios and cashews (add cinnamon if you’re enjoying an extra-sweet wine).
Wasabi peas. Who doesn’t want an extra kick while drinking wine? Wasabi peas also open your palate, which will help bring out flavors you didn’t expect in a wine.
Fresh-baked bread. It doesn’t get any simpler than pieces of fresh-baked Italian or French bread and butter to accompany any dry wine, be it white or red. Seasoned olive oil works great, too, if you want to avoid butter fingers.
6. Avoid a Headache on National Drink Wine Day
Drinking wine is great, until the headache sets it. A wine headache has commonly been blamed on sulfites, but experts think two other substances are the real culprits: tyramine and tannins. Speaking with the Chicago Tribune, headache specialist Dr. Frederick G. Freitag said the naturally occurring amino acid tyramine can affect blood pressure and thus trigger migraine headaches in people who can’t break it down. And the phenolic compounds related to tannins, when absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolized, open blood vessels (vasorelaxation), which is a first step to developing a headache.
So how can you avoid the dreaded wine headache without giving up your favorite grape-derived beverage? Drinking coffee beforehand can help. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, putting a stop to vasorelaxation. And adding a bit of honey to your cup of joe can also help, since its fructose can metabolize the alcohol faster. You’ll also want to practice the popular alcohol-and-water trade-off. For every glass of wine, drink a glass of water (or two). By staying hydrated, you can avoid getting a headache on National Drink Wine Day.
What’s the best way to enjoy National Drink Wine Day? The choice is yours. And, yes, you can do it in your pajamas on the couch with a glass that’s not considered proper, filled to the brim, and pair it with Funyuns — no judgment here! Just have a great time.