But we think its great that GQ is letting everyone else in on these rules.
Here's all you need to know to navigate that world, find the best bottles (and cans!), drink above your pay grade and say "screw you" to the old rules:
RULE NO. 1 Sparkling Wine is Exploding
Drinkers of the world, we are living in a full-blown bubbles bubble, with unprecedented quality, variety and accessibility fizzing in our coupes. From England to New Mexico, everybody's making sparklers - and everybody's drinking them - to the point where Ariel Arce can focus an entire bar, the rambunctious “underground champagne parlor” Riddling Widow in Manhattan, just on popping bottles.
RULE NO. 2 There's a Simple Way to Get a Killer Bottle in a Restaurant
“A lot of people find talking about money uncomfortable, but there's no way around it. So just come in and say how much you feel comfortable spending. Never, ever, ever have any of us scoffed at a number. It actually makes the situation way less intimidating, because knowing your number means we're not up-selling you. When I hear a number, I'm like: Awesome. I'm gonna find you the best bang for the buck, and you're gonna freak out and want this wine all the time.” — Marie-Louise Friedland, a wine director at two of San Francisco's most ambitious restaurants, The Progress and State Bird Provisions
RULE NO. 3 The Best Wine Class We've Been to is on Netflix
If you need a 94-minute crash course on how to taste and appreciate wine, queue up Somm, the surprisingly intense 2012 documentary about a group of wine obsessives cramming for their Master Sommelier exam. You'll cringe at their fails along the way, but you'll also learn as they learn. When it's over, start buying wine on Verve, the new e-commerce site from Somm star Dustin Wilson. From then on, you're no longer a heavy drinker—you're a “serious taster.”
RULE NO. 4 Even a Hot-Dog Shack Can Have a Top-Notch List
If anything embodies the wine-ification of America, it's the surprising places tasty wine is popping up.
Drink at That Hot-Dog Joint
Master Sommelier Christopher Bates worked at world-class restaurants before opening F.L.X. Winery in the Finger Lakes, where he serves his favorite wines with burgers and dogs.
Drink in a Stable
Out on the North Fork of Long Island, McCall Winery and Ranch has turned a horse barn into a tasting room. Its glorious lawn is strewn with picnic tables ideal for nursing that Cab Franc.
Drink at a Ball Game
Perhaps to dull the pain of the Padres' woeful pitching, San Diego's Petco Park lets you bring entire bottles straight to your seat via re-usable carafes and cups.
Drink at Disney World
The quality of South African wines has skyrocketed—and Jiko restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando has the biggest list in the United States.
Drink in Midair
Your in-flight order is no longer (inexplicably) a Bloody Mary. Emirates airlines pours more than 70 labels on any given day and has 3 million bottles aging in France.
RULE NO. 5 Not All Wine-Speak is Gibberish
Andrea Morris, the sommelier at New York Vegetarian restaurant Nix, decodes three terms that'll help you articulate what you want—or don't want—to drink.
A sensation of freshness and crispness (as opposed to richness). “A few years ago, if you said ‘acid’ at the table, everyone thought the wine was gonna be sour. Now people think it'll be a minerally high-acid white, like a Riesling, as opposed to an oaky Chardonnay.”
Once considered a flaw, exposure to oxygen can sometimes change wine for the better, creating an invitingly toasty, hazelnutty aroma. “Old Chenin Blanc always tastes to me like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, the French Vanilla ones. In old Burgundies, it's more almondy.”
It's when your red wine tastes funky. A lot of wines from France's trendy Jura region have this characteristic. “I hate to compare the smell to manure, but it can be a little bit like a stable. Or rust. It's iron-y, like blood. That combination of sharpness and damp-soil smell.” But tasty!
RULE NO. 6 Natural Wine is Getting Americanized
For a while, natural wine was what we heard every hipster in France was into. Now it's thoroughly integrated into the drinking culture of places like Brooklyn, where LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has opened a natural-wine bar (The Four Horsemen), and Portland, Maine, where Here We Go Magic drummer Peter Hale now runs a natural-wine shop (Maine & Loire). Though the term “natural” means different things to different people, in general it's made without all the junk—industrial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, enzymes, sugar, and the dreaded additive known as Mega Purple—that turns wine into a homogenized product, the viticultural equivalent of Nickelback. “You can expect a whole lot more from a wine that's made naturally,” Hale says, “because there's more potential for idiosyncratic flavors or textures—a greater sense of wine being unique.” Enjoying it means understanding that a given wine's quirks aren't imperfections. They're conscious aesthetic choices.
RULE NO. 7 Robert Parker Can S.T.F.U. Now
Love ya, Bobby, but your reign as the Only Wine Writer Who Matters is over—and so are the days when a 0-to-100-point scale (which always felt more like a 90-to-93 scale, anyway) dictated what we drank. There are now a thousand sources to help us find, understand, order, and enjoy more wine. Here are three we trust.
Snap a photo of any wine label with your phone. Boom: The Vivino app gives you crowd-sourced tasting notes, the average retail price, and suggested food pairings. Somehow it works on restaurant wine lists, too. Twenty million users can't be wrong.
Alongside pics of her chugging from the bottle, Marissa A. Ross's blog (Wine. All the Time.) bursts with irreverent reviews. One recent white was described as having “all the quintessential Sauv-Blanc shit in there—the citrus, the greenery, the subtle air of cat piss.”
The superb Hudson Valley shop Suburban Wines sells discounted bottles via newsletter. Many of the wines—like a $12 Moroccan red from Ouled Thaleb—are total surprises, and (though your FedEx guy will loathe you) Suburban ships to your front door.
RULE NO. 8 You Can Tell More From the Back of the Label than the Front
THE THREE FOXES
1. This is the producer, a.k.a. the winemaker.
2. This is the grape. Clairette Blanche is white, with origins in France and a musky apple flavor.
ALC 11.5% BY VOL
3. Most mass-market wine hovers around 13 percent alcohol, which means this one goes down easier.
OH NO, SULFITES?!
4. Yeah, they're preservatives. And yeah, some asthmatics can react to them. But most people don't.
5. Love a wine? Note the importer, then search for other bottles it brings in. Two names to look for: Percy Selections (for Spanish and French natural wines) and Kermit Lynch (for French and Italian).
UNFILTERED AND UNFINED
6. Fining is a process for clarifying wine. Declining to filter or fine is considered non-interventionist winemaking and suggests the wine will be on the wild side.
RULE NO. 9 ...Unless the Front of Your Label Looks Like This
Thanks to the Blaxploitation-style artwork for his take-no-prisoners red, Machete, Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney has developed a reputation not only for the wine he makes but for the way he labels it. More and more producers are like that these days. They'll commission original artwork or put their own eighth-grade yearbook photo on the label. Anything to wipe away the pretension and predictability of yet another vineyard sketch.
RULE NO. 10 Have a Wine Emergency? Just Grab One of These
So you're running late for a dinner party and you know nothing about wine and you can't remember anything else you read in these pages. Don't panic: You can find this instantly recognizable Zinfandel blend in many of the same strip-mall shops that sell Yellow Tail, and its flavor blows the kangaroo away. Your host will thank you.
Bonus rule: Buy anything this man makes. He's vine whisperer Hardy Wallace, one half of irreverent California winemaking duo Dirty and Rowdy, which embodies all the intense flavors and cheeky attitude of the new-wine movement.
RULE NO. 11 Eastern Europe is the New Western Europe
Many of the world's emerging wine regions have actually been fermenting grapes for thousands of years. Most respectable stores now have a small section devoted to these countries' wines—and since they're not yet famous here, you can afford them even if you can't pronounce them.
Austria is the new France
Okay, it's technically not Eastern Europe (until Putin gets there), but if you're looking for cheap and delicate Pinot Noirs, you can't do better.
- Croatia is the new Italy
It's not just that the craggy coastline looks like Italy. Croatia's whites are also perfectly light, Italian-style food wines. Try the Pošip grape.
- Georgia is the new Spain
A decade ago, Spain was where you looked for intriguing new values. Georgia has been making wine longer than Spain has—and yet its distinctive orange Rkatsiteli wines are still somehow affordable.
- Greece is the new...Greece
The Greeks are O.G.s of both Western civilization and wine, which as far as we're concerned are one and the same. Their zippy Assyrtiko grape remains a world-class bargain. For now.
RULE NO. 12 The Best Wine Shops Are Very, Very Picky
We don't mind a giant wine warehouse, but the best wine shops are hyper-focused. Ask the somm at the wine-iest restaurant in town where he buys his personal bottles. It'll be a place like one of these.
Red & White Wines | Chicago
Nathan Adams's dimly lit shop serves as the clubhouse for Chicago's natural-wine crowd, particularly on Thursdays and Saturdays, when the store hosts free tastings. On the shelves: a whole lotta Loire.
Le Caveau Fine Wines | Atlanta
Because this shop lies just off Buford Highway, ATL's international boulevard of eats, you can count on owner Eric Brown to recommend the right bottles for Shaanxi noodles or Cantonese roast duck. He also stocks a local delicacy: extra-virgin pecan oil.
Leon & Son | Brooklyn
Even in a wine-saturated yuppie burg like Brooklyn, Chris Leon's little Clinton Hill shop stands out for its deep catalog of small, ambitious American producers (plus plenty from France and Italy) at fair prices. Buy a case and the 13th bottle is on him.
Lou Wine Shop | Los Angeles
Lou Amdur, the wine king of Los Feliz, guides you to your bottle with helpful, quietly hilarious tasting notes such as “Crisp and crackly maritime-influenced Albariño, good for dry mouth and/or a dried-out soul, or shellfish.”
RULE NO. 13 Don't Be Too Snobby for Costco
That's right, one of the world's biggest wine emporiums is the price-busting wholesaler where you buy your monthly gallon of Nutella. Costco stores stock, on average, 170 labels and have “wine stewards” working the floor. Volume buying and minimal markup mean you'll save a ton on higher-end bottles. And the house-label Kirkland Signature wines are made on the sly by reputable producers around the world, so even their champagne and ten-year tawny port are legit. Little-known fact: Costcos in many states sell wine to non-members as well—just tell the doorperson you're buying alcohol only.
RULE NO. 14 And If This is All Too Confusing, Learn to Shop by Color
Whether you're too tired to think or you're in the boondocks and can't be too picky, try this: Buy Italian for red, Spanish for white, and French for rosé. It's a gross generalization, but these countries drink wine with every meal, so nothing they produce will be swill. The Italian will likely be a Sangiovese, their most widely planted grape by far. Spanish whites—which will probably be a refreshing, fruity Verdejo or a bright, fragrant Albariño—offer great value. Most French rosés are from Provence and are light, fresh, and dry, often with a lovely salmon hue. They're easy to find and excellent with food.
RULE NO. 15 Canned Wine Does Not Mean Crap Wine
Until recently, wine's biggest drawback was that you couldn't take it to the beach or sneak it into the movies without causing a scene. Now even that's changing, thanks to convenient, portable, and dangerously poundable canned wines from premium producers. If you're into Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, seek out the Underwood label. For California whites and reds, you're after Alloy Wine Works. And if you're ready for a real shocker, Jordan Salcito, who spends her life around the world's greatest vino as wine director for Momofuku Group, has just created Ramona, a line of not-too-sweet artisanal wine coolers, redeeming the most maligned intoxicant this side of Zima.
RULE NO. 16 Wine Cocktails Are Now on the Table
Do like an Italian and make this Negroni alternative, which was invented at Bar Basso in aperitivo-crazed Milan.
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
3 oz. prosecco
Build the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange slice.
From the 2016 book Spritz, by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau
RULE NO. 17 For the Love of God, and for the Last Time, Red Wine Should Be Served Chilled
Not cold, but chilled. Like around 60 degrees. Either ask your somm to do it or put your bottle in the freezer for 15 minutes. We promise it'll improve.
RULE NO. 18 The Best Way to Get Into Wine: Invest in a Glass
It wasn't wine that got me into wine. It was a wineglass. At a café I was served a red in a glass so thin, so delicate, so lightweight that it seemed like the stem would snap as I swirled it. (For the record, I had no idea why I was swirling it.) With a really thin glass, you can sense the weight of the wine because the glass weighs so little. The wine also tastes more intense because there's less of a barrier between you and the liquid. Most important: It feels good in your hands, like a brass pen or a wad of money. I started buying wine just to have something to put in the glass.
Of course, nice glasses are pricey. Just one from Riedel's new Superleggero series costs $139. (The popular, crazy-thin Universal glass by Zalto is $60.) But it's worth it. Especially if you're not yet a wino. —Ross MaCammon
RULE NO. 19 Everything You Used to Eat With Beer Tastes Better With Wine
The next time you're indulging in lowbrow comfort food, leave the beer in the fridge. (It's too filling, anyway.) Lately when we order Thai takeout, we're pouring a bottle of Gamay. And we're downing white wine—or even champagne—with fried chicken. With a pulled-pork barbecue sandwich, we might even break out a ritzy Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Try it and you'll find that great wine elevates even the humblest meals. And since a bottle at home costs a third of what you'd pay at a restaurant after markups, you can justify the extravagance.
Courtesy of Laure Joliet
RULE NO. 20 Wine Bars Are Now the Best Places to Eat
Remember when craft beer became cool maybe a decade ago, introducing us to a whole genre of beer-forward gastropubs? Now a similar revolution is turning wine bars from predictable meat-and-cheese-board joints into ambitious, full-on kitchens. And there's one near you, wherever you are.
Gyst | Minneapolis
From their house kombucha and beet kvass to their sauerkraut and kimchi, the fermentation fans behind Gyst follow only one formula: sugar + yeast = kapow. Get the peanut-butter-and-kimchi sandwich. Trust.
Wildair | New York
In their sidekick to block-rocking prix fixe spot Contra, Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone serve head-on shrimp stewed with garlic and smoked paprika, and fried squid with spring onion and basil.
Parachute | Chicago
A Korean-American restaurant that acts like a wine bar, Parachute careens from porky rice cakes to sirloin with Roquefort—always with an equally racy beverage riding shotgun.
Dame | Portland, OR
A restaurant focusing on what partner Dana Frank calls “unusual grape varieties and unknown regions,” such as Hungary and Slovenia. For dinner: sunchoke soup and oil-poached halibut.
Bergamot Alley | Healdsburg, CA
Kevin Wardell's combo wine bar and retail shop has the balls to sell mostly old-world wine in Sonoma County. Grab a grilled cheese and a handful of the spicy bar mix called D's Nutz.