One of the country’s top sommeliers shared her expertise with over a million viewers during a virtual wine tasting session designed to help anyone raise their appreciation and enjoyment of wine. James Beard Award-winning wine expert Belinda Chang took over Mastercard’s Twitter account to host this interactive tutorial, perfect for these unique times when COVID-19 travel restrictions limit visits to restaurants and bars.
Belinda hosted the tasting from her Chicago home, where she invited guests to pour themselves a glass of wine and experience it along with her.
Her first piece of advice: take your time.
“Make wine tasting a bit of a moment,” she said. “You want to taste it with all of your senses.”
That means starting with your eyes to appreciate the color and clarity of the wine in your glass. Belinda began with a sauvignon blanc, a white wine produced around the world, which she described as “brilliantly reflective and clear.”
Once you’ve taken a look at it, give your wine a good sniff to pick out the subtleties of the bouquet. In the case of a white wine like sauvignon blanc, she explained, you may pick up on citrus notes like lime, lemon, or even grapefruit.
After appreciating the appearance and aroma, she led her virtual classroom in taking a sip.
“When tasting wine, I like to swish it around so it hits every part of my tongue,” Belinda explained. “This one has a little bit of acidity and I find it zippy and bright and fresh.”
She went through the same process with a red zinfandel while taking the time to answer questions submitted by viewers. When one virtual guest asked about pairings, she said that the old rules—red wine with meat, white with fish—don’t necessarily apply anymore.
“You can drink whatever you like with whatever you want,” she said, adding that the sauce your food is prepared with may give a better pairing idea than the protein itself.
“With something like pasta, think of the sauce first,” she said. “Seafood sauces might be white wine friendly, while red sauce takes you into red wine territory.”
And if you’re cooking at home, you can add a splash of whatever wine you’ll be pouring to the food itself, ensuring a more cohesive blending of flavors.
As for serving, Belinda suggested decanting wines—slowly pouring the wine from the bottle into a separate container to aerate it and reduce sediment. And while nice to have, a pricy decanter isn’t required.
“You can use anything you have as long as it’s glass,” she said. “We just want to add oxygen, so even a pitcher will work.”
Finally, she gave a helpful hint for what to do when you have leftover wine.
“Make it into sangria,” she suggested, demonstrating how to prepare a red sangria by adding apple, blueberry, citrus, and orange liqueur to the Merlot. “It stretches the wine and makes everything festive and cheerful.”
Before signing off, Belinda discussed Mastercard’s efforts in supporting those affected by COVID-19.
“Mastercard is doing so much work to support small businesses through this time,” she said. “They have given $250 million to offer free resources to small business owners to help them turn their physical presences into digital presences, which is something I have done as well.”
Also an expert on curating online events, Belinda is helping five lucky Mastercard cardholders plan the ultimate virtual party. She’s providing each of them with an hour of consultations that cover everything from invitations, menus, and guest lists to cocktails, décor, and talking points for their online birthday, anniversary, or dinner party. To view more exciting virtual experiences like this one, visit Priceless.com.