There comes a time in every young adult's life when one inevitably exchanges loud thumping nightclubs for quiet evenings with friends at home.
When that moment comes, it's likely that you’ll also be swapping your kiddy drinks for something more cultured — put away the vodka mixed with sweet carbonated drinks and bring out that bottle of wine you picked up while travelling in Europe.
As someone creeping towards the end of his twenties, I confess that I’m starting to experience the beginnings of this transition.
But while my body can no longer keep up with raving through the night, my appreciation of alcoholic beverages has yet to reach the required level of sophistication needed to really commit to the lifestyle switch.
Enter Cellarbration’s commercial director and wine and whisky enthusiast Jason Tan.
Tan manages the day-to-day operations of the one-stop alcohol beverage hub where he’s worked for about six years.
He shared with me that he is also looking to expand Cellarbration, through the company’s Franchise Programme which gives those looking to get into the alcohol sales industry a straightforward, low-risk path into the business — but more on that later.
Apart from working with alcoholic products every day, Tan also has a Level Two certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), an international wine institution, and is a qualified whiskey ambassador.
Knowing my interest in refining my tastes, Tan kindly offered to show me the ropes in the world of wine.
Wine is a personal experience
First, despite my preconceived notions of needing to be enlightened, Tan said that enjoying wine should ultimately come down to drinking what tastes good to you.
“It should be suited to your palate,” he said.
“If you like a S$20 bottle of wine, then that's completely fine. Just because there's an expensive first growth S$2,000 bottle of wine, it doesn’t mean that it suits you.”
In other words, don’t force yourself to drink something that tastes bad to you, or as Tan put it: “Get the wine that suits yourself.”
Understanding what’s on the label
What you may want to do though, is to start paying attention to the wine you’re drinking.
“When you look at a wine’s label, look out for which country it's from, and what is the wine’s varietal,” Tan explained.
These are the two basic elements that determine what a wine tastes like.
Varietals refer to the type of grape the wine is made from.
Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc — these are all wine grape varieties, each with its own distinct characteristics.
The next thing to note is the country and subsequently, the region in which the wine is made.
“A chardonnay wine from Australia is different from a chardonnay made in France,” said Tan.
“The way it's grown, the soil, the climate, all this has an effect on the taste.”
As a general rule, wines from countries with warmer climates tend to have more fruity notes and flavours, while those from colder climates typically come more acidic and grassy.
Actually drinking wine
Okay, now you’re at a quiet dinner party with some close friends and you’ve gotten out the bottle of wine you bought (from Cellarbration of course) and you want to drink it.
How do you go about doing so without looking like a neanderthal?
One of the things to note is that for serious wine enthusiasts, the glass you’re drinking from really matters.
The circumference of the glass’s rim and the shape of the bowl, for instance, are said to have an effect on the wine-drinking experience - not something beginners may want to worry too much about.
The first thing you want to do when drinking wine is to swirl it around in the glass — “Just to aerate it and get the flavours out,” said Tan.
Then next you’ll want to “nose” it which essentially involves sticking your nose deep into the wine glass and inhaling it as a way to assess its aromas.
Then comes the drinking — take a good sip of the wine but don’t swallow. Let it make its way around your mouth while you pay attention to the different flavours and notes it has.
Picking wines for different occasions
So far we’ve gone through what you’ll need to start a journey into the world of wines. But what if you had a special occasion — say tomorrow — and don’t yet know how to choose a wine that would be appropriate?
Well, you can always head down to one of Cellarbration’s 14 locations to get some advice.
According to Tan, one of the things the team hopes to do is to bring a non-pretentious atmosphere to the alcohol retail space, so that even the biggest wine noobs (like myself) can stroll in and get something they’ll be happy with.
So I thought why not make use of the fact that I had Cellarbration’s Commercial Director with me, and quiz him on how he would make wine selections for different occasions?
Meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time:
“If they’re big wine drinkers, but you don’t know what kind of style of wine they like to drink, I would go with something that is of a respectable level, a grand cru class for instance. You can’t go wrong.”
A quiet party with colleagues:
“I would want to bring something that is of slightly higher quality, something where I can share the story of the wine.”
“It depends whether you’re buying it as a gift or if you’re bringing it to be drunk on the day. If it's wine just to be consumed with the food, then I would go for something easy to drink, maybe champagne or a bottle of sparkling wine.”
Getting more into wine
If you’re really interested in diving into the world and exploring different types of wine, Tan’s recommended approach is to start with wines that you enjoy, and take note of the label and what kind of wine it is.
Then the next time you’re shopping for wine, explore a little by varying slightly from what you had the previous time.
Before long you’ll have your own preferences of wines, and no doubt an impressive collection to boot.
When you eventually become the ultimate wine connoisseur you might also be interested in selling it, and for that Cellarbration has a fuss-free way to enter that world too: its Franchise Programme.
Tailored for like-minded individuals seeking to get into the business, Cellarbration describes its Franchise Programme as an easy-to-set-up venture which gives you access to the widest range of products at wholesale prices.
Franchisees are also helped along the way with comprehensive training and direct marketing support.
Interested parties can contact [email protected] to find out more or visit https://cellarbration.com.sg/franchise for details.
Writing this Cellarbration-sponsored article made the writer realise that there’s more to wine than just red and white.
Top image by Andrew Koay