Never too young to join the wine club

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By Hilary Hagerman

There’s an epiphany students have sometime in their journey through university — the moment you realize you no longer want to drink just to get smashed.

Maybe it’s after one too many nights of chundering yourself to sleep, or waking up minus $100 with six hours unaccounted for. If you’re at the point of wanting to try just drinking socially, why not try wine?

Wine might seem a little out of your league, but it’s not reserved for 60- something investment bankers. With so many blends, there’s literally something out there for everyone.

There’s traditional aspects of a wine that make it good, said Tony Aspler, a leading Canadian authority on wine. “A good wine has to be true to its variety, and the fruit extracts, alcohol and acid have to be balanced.”

But no matter how well-made a wine is, it might not be right for you. “As we are all different, so are our palates,” said Edward Finstein, self-proclaimed Wine Doctor, award-winning author and international wine judge.

“It always comes down to personal taste,” said Finstein. “If you like a sweet wine or a dry wine you need to start there. It also depends on the mood that you’re in, the food that you’re eating with the wine, and the friends that you’re enjoying it with.”

To find your wine, Aspler suggests getting together with a group of friends, with everyone brining a bottle of wine in a paper bag. “Pass them around, taking a sip of each, and your palette will decide what you like,” he said. Then pull off the bag and voila.

Pairing wine with food can also be a challenge if you don’t know the basic rules. “Basically, wines with good acidity are good food matches, because you need acid to cleanse the palette. If you put a lightbodied wine with a heavy dish it’s going to be lost,” said Aspler.

Typically, pair red meat with a solid red wine, pair fish with a wine with good acidity, like a red burgundy, and pair spicy food with a sweet wine to counteract the spicyness — like a medium Riesling.

“When serving sweet wines with dessert, make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert,” adds Finstein.

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