Although drinking wine seems like an easy and relaxing task, proper tasting and the selection process can be overwhelming. With a million different gadgets, rules, and terminology, I often find myself sticking to what I like (Pinot Noir), and not venturing out to try new wines. Our friends at WineBattles, an online social wine competition company,  provided us with 10 quick tips to help you get the best flavor out of your wine, store it properly, and try new wines.

1. Do not sniff the cork. It’s not an indicator for the taste of the wine; rather feel the cork with your fingers to make sure it is moist. A dry cork can mean the bottle was not stored properly or was subjected to heat.

2. Be sure to pour the glass only one third full so there is enough room to give it a good swirl. The swirling aerates the wine and allows the aromatics to reveal themselves quicker.

3. Hold the wineglass by the stem instead of the bowl. The body heat from your hand can warm the wine and warm wine will always taste “hot” ( too much alcohol) Also, with your hand on the bowl you won’t be able to see the color or clarity of the wine.

4. Two reasons to decant. Decanting young wines gives them air and lets them develop, which will integrate the flavors and aromatics. You decant older wines in order to eliminate any sediment that may have developed over the maturation of the wine. The sediment will impart unwanted flavors to the wine – not to mention it is not fun when you get a mouth full of it!

5. Do not buy cases of wines. Even if you like them at this moment as your tastes will change with time and you will be left with wines you might not like in the future. Rather buy a few bottles of a wider variety of wines. The spice of life!

6. Find a good retailer. Try several and find one that recommends bottles that fit your wine profile. Ask them questions and get advice as they are on the front lines of new wineries and wine regions.

7. Taste, Taste, Taste. The best way to learn is to taste as much as you can. Attend tasting events, join a tasting group or just open a bottle with a good book in front of you and enjoy!

8. When looking at wine scores do not take the number as gospel! Rather read the review as most reviewers are good writers and the descriptions of the wine will tell you much more about whether you will like it or not rather than a single number!

9. Refrigerate opened bottles of wine. If you do not drink the whole bottle in one sitting, you can replace the cork and put the bottle in the fridge. The cold will slow down the oxidation process. Yes, that goes for red wines as well. Just remember to pull the red out 30 minutes before you plan to drink the rest of the bottle.

10. Do not throw out a “corked” bottle of wine. “Corked” means a wine that has a bad flavor due to a chemical that is found or transferred in corks tainted with TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole). The signs are the smell of wet cardboard or damp basement. If you have a bottle like this, do not dump it out, rather replace the cork and bring the bottle back to the store where you purchased it for a replacement bottle.