Whether you’re eating carne asada or arroz con pollo tonight, you’ll probably pair your meal with a little vino, right? According to a recent study, Latinos are drinking 50 percent more wine than we did in 2005. That’s a lot of bottles! So in an effort to familiarize ourselves with the finer nuances of wine, we quizzed Ecuadorian sommelier Jorge Arias, owner of The Wine Hut in New York City, about all things vinous, from how to tell if a glass of wine is good, to the best wine-producing region in Latin America, to his pick for the yummiest wine for Summer 2011. Salud!
What's your biggest pet peeve about people when they order wine?
When you suggest customers try a nice, moderately priced wine, yet they think that you are just pushing the product for your own convenience. Most sommeliers always try their very best to pair reasonably priced wines with the food, so that customers can enjoy this unique experience.
What questions should you ask a sommelier before ordering a bottle in a restaurant?
They should ask for wine pairing suggestions with their meal. They could also ask for the characteristics or background of a particular wine.
What characteristics should we pay attention to when tasting wine?
Color, texture, but most importantly length, which is also called finish; the longer the taste lasts, the better the wine.
How can you tell if a glass of wine great?
A glass of wine is great when you taste it and you sense the place it comes from—that’s what I call wine with personality.
Do those age-old rules of pairing white wine with fish still stand?
While this old general rule remains for some people, others have broken the rules. I have seen a lot of open-minded people who prefer to explore different pairings.
Is it true that you can use cheap wine with sangria?
It’s true since after you mix the wine you can’t really appreciate its special characteristics.
How long does an uncorked bottle of wine usually last?
Two to three days but it all depends how you keep it. You can use a pump to take out the oxygen and it will last a little longer, five to six days.
What South American wine is hot right now?
Malbec, without a doubt!
Does South America provide the best value for your buck?
Definitely, especially now that people are more careful on how they’re spending their money.
What's the best wine region in South America?
I believe Maipo Valley in Chile stands out as the best. This region makes world-class wines that can compete side by side with any other wine from around the world. Due to its soil, climate and altitude, Maipo Valley produces wines with great balance, especially their Cabernet Sauvignon.
What's a great summer wine?
I strongly recommend Torrontes, a great aromatic white wine only produced in Argentina.