Cosmopolitan Gives a Crash Course in Wine

In an interview that is as entertaining as it is informational, Cosmopolitan Fitness and Health Editor Elizabeth Narins cops to a complete lack of wine knowledge. She turns to sommelier Victoria James for answers to unpack what “full-body” means, how geography affects grape flavors, and how to not look like an amateur when ordering wine at a restaurant. They even get into the reputation of more traditional, oaky wines vs. unoaked wines, often aged in stainless steel wine barrels.

The full article is a fun read, but for the busy wine-lovers, here’s a quick summary of some of our favorite notes.

How to ask for a wine recommendation:

Sometimes, the only familiar words on a wine menu are the grape varietal like “Chardonnay” or “Cabernet,” but just because a wine is a cabernet, doesn’t mean that it is going to taste like your favorite cabernet. James recommends looking where the wine is from and choosing what you’re in the mood for or asking for a recommendation based on that flavor profile.

Cool regions (further from the equator) produce wine that tends to be lighter-bodied, crisp, tart and lower in alcohol content.

Warm regions (closer to the equator) produce wine that tends to be fuller-bodied, fruity, aromatic and higher in alcohol content.

You could also show the server or sommelier a picture of a bottle of wine you enjoyed recently. Just like when you get a haircut!


Is oaky a good thing or a bad thing:

This comes down to preference. Oak carries a flavor and imbues that flavor onto the wine. If you like wines with vanilla, caramel or baking spice notes, you probably like oaked wines. If you like crisper wines, often more light or grapey, you probably like unoaked wines – aged in clay, concrete or stainless steel wine barrels like the ones we manufacture at Skolnik.

If you like crisp AND smoother wines, congrats, you like wine!


What to do when the sommelier serves you a sip:

In short – swirl, sniff, sip and respond. Taste involves your nose as much as your tastebuds and swirling let’s the wine release scent, which sniffing then let’s you take in directly. It can take a few sips for your mouth to adjust to the pH of the wine, so take a few sips, swish it in your mouth before you swallow and let the server or sommelier know if it is what you want.


It is totally normal to enjoy wine and not know that much about it. Narins and James’ interview answers all of the questions you’ve always pondered but been too embarrassed or overwhelmed to ask. If you’re wondering about wine, check out the article. If you’re wondering about stainless steel wine barrels or kegs and how your business can utilize them, reach out to a Skolnik representative today.

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