“Don’t hold it by the bulb, hon,” my mom said.

It’s one of the first pieces of advice I remember receiving as a wine-drinking novice.

“Your hand—it warms the wine.”

This was one of the first among many wine faux pas I would make along the way. The education of drinking wine is one gained almost exclusively through experience, and all the missteps are invaluable lessons learned in how to enjoy wine with effortless sophistication and casual confidence.

Despite the value of experience, I’ll spare you a few embarrassing moments with tips on navigating around these generally accepted wine-drinking rules (and exceptions where applicable).

Pouring: How Much?

This one’s easy. If you’re using relatively standard glasses, pour to where the bowl just starts to narrow after it’s widest point.

Holding a Glass

There are schools of thought here, but if we defer to the purists: yes, there’s a right and wrong way.

Holding by the stem almost entirely prevents heat transfer from your hand to the wine. Holding by the bowl…well…it’s simply more comfortable sometimes, and if your hands are always cold like mine, it may not occur to you that it’ll make much of a difference.

My advice? Gauge your social setting. If everyone knows their wine etiquette, rock that stem. If you’re enjoying a glass on the couch, hold it with your toes if that suits you.

Cork Breakage

There are folks who will dispose of a bottle of wine if cork falls into the bottle during the opening process. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around this one, but proponents claim that an easily broken cork could be indicative of wine that has gone bad, been stored improperly or is too old to drink.

Their case is not without merits, but generally, you could just go the Italian route and pour yourself the first glass to minimize the chances that a guest will get any cork or sediment resting on top.

Of course, always give the wine an obligatory taste test to make sure it has not, in fact, gone bad.

Keep these tips in your back pocket if you find yourself amongst the hoi polloi. I guarantee they’ll come in handy.

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