Do you speak wine? Stefan Tscheppe, General Manager of the Princely Winery, talks about how to become a wine connoisseur and which mistakes can be easily avoided.
Stefan Tscheppe laughs a lot in conversation. Wine is his life, so he is only too happy to talk about how to choose the right wine, and what distinguishes it from the wrong wine. Wine should be “celebrated”, it must be treated as more than “just a drink,” he explains. “You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to serve a special wine. Special wines make any occasion special.”
Tscheppe generally recommends storing six to twelve bottles of the same wine, because that way you can observe how a wine changes over the years. “That might seem like it goes without saying, but many people who are beginners when it comes to wine buy a bottle here and a bottle there.”
If you want to discover the complex world of wine and understand its expressive and detailed language, you have to invest time. There are “no shortcuts and no secrets”. How we perceive things in day-to-day life is very much focused on seeing and hearing, “Most people’s sense of smell tends to be somewhat untrained,” says Tscheppe. But a person’s sense of smell is particularly important when it comes to wine.
It takes about 200 tries to recognize a smell in smaller quantities. Even as children, we are able to recognize the smell of bananas, oranges and dark chocolate. Cinnamon, wet leather or tobacco, on the other hand, are not so easy. So what does the expert recommend? Going to a grocery store and consciously smelling the fruits and vegetables: “Learn to see with your nose,” he says.
If you want to choose a good bottle yourself, you need to have a certain level of knowledge about vintages, varieties and origin. If you don’t have time to study oenology, it’s best to go to a specialized shop for advice. “The world of wine is generally very complex; wine is a very communicative product,” says Tscheppe.
According to the expert, one of the most typical mistakes when dealing with wine is incorrect storage. The room should not be too warm, the temperature should not fluctuate constantly, the bottles should be stored either standing up or lying down, but not one and then the other. And wine that has been opened and is being kept in the refrigerator should be stored horizontally, because it does the contents no good if the bottle is upright in the refrigerator door and shaken each time it is opened. According to Tscheppe, this is also an argument for screw caps, because they make it easier to store a bottle horizontally in the refrigerator. And screw caps are not a sign of bad quality. “There are good and expensive wines that have a screw cap,” he says.
Once they have been purchased and stored correctly, all that’s left to do is to diligently practice smelling until, after 200 tries, you achieve success.
Images: Princely Winery