We Are Scientists present … the rules of wine

Barely know your red wine from your yellow? No idea how to make a shiraz slushie? Then read on to find out all you need to know about brewski (er, that's wine)

Consider this a simple guide to achieving fluency in all things oenophilic. The world of wine is a complex and rewarding one. By taking account of a few simple precepts, you can become a "wino" – a charmed, bon mot-slinging sophisticate with entrée into society's most exclusive clubs and factions, for whom dullness is the only impossibility.

Know your varietals

There are two basic types, or "varietals", of wine: red and yellow. Not surprisingly, there are different words for red and yellow wine in different countries. The French call them "bordeaux" and "sancerre", respectively. The Australians say "shiraz" and "chardonnay"; Italians, "nero d'avolo" and "pinot grigio." Germans, refreshingly, call everything "riesling". It isn't necessary to memorise all of these terms, but wielding them is a neat trick, and one that's respected by wine enthusiasts.

Know the preparations

Popular misconception has it that expensive wine shouldn't be served on ice – actually, it's best that way. For a poolside treat or a festive evening cocktail, try a wine slushie: blend expensive red wine and ice, and salt the rim of the glass (extra points from your snootier guests if you use sea salt). Kids love ice lollies made from expensive yellow wine and pineapple juice. To kick it up several notches, pour several bottles of expensive yellow wine into a hot tub, and freak out in there.

Know your history

Grasping wine's history is essential to blending in with aggressive oenophiles. A crash course: Jesus invented wine several thousand years ago. As the story goes, he was at a shitty gathering, and suddenly he began peeing into cups – filling them right to the brim – and also spitting blood into cups. He filled cup after cup, some with pee and some with blood, till it was obvious to anyone keeping track that there was no way his body could still have pee or blood in it – and yet he continued to pee and spit blood. Eventually, Jesus stopped spitting long enough to announce that people should "Drink! Drink!". Reluctantly they did, and found, with relief, that Jesus's pee and blood tasted unlike any pee or blood they had ever tasted.

Know how to talk wine

Often frustrating for wine amateurs is the language that aficionados use to describe the taste, appearance, and general quality of a bottle. They usually feel liberated upon learning that there's no specific lexicon awaiting memorisation. Sounding legit is simply about being creative and having fun. "This wine tastes sweet, watery and a little like sulfur" is a boring and transparently amateurish way of describing wine. The aficionado says instead: "She's skittish and distant, but was brought up in a good household – that's clear – although lately has meddled with devil worship." Good all-purpose adjectives that can be applied to any wine include: theoretical, divisive, provisional, agnostic, eukaryotic, gallant, organised, omnipresent, believable, in attendance, vulval, and motivated. How do those in the know refer to wine generally? The most popular nicknames are brewski, "a sixer", Jesus juice, snow melt, Trésor, Texas tea, and la violencia.

Know your reference points

Today wine plays a more important role in society than ever before. Be on the lookout for wine's frequent appearances in popular culture and be ready to discuss them with prospective wine buddies. Some highlights from the last 12 months include:

Victoria Beckham (née Beckman) said the Spice Girls loved to drink wine sometimes.

Ex-PM Gordon Brown was never seen on TV with "red wine teeth", thus losing the election.

Stephen Fry, the popular television host, told a story involving red wine.

We Are Scientists' fourth album, Barbara, is out this week.


We Are Scientists

The GuardianTramp

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