If you travel to Italy, you want to know a few words in Italian. If you go to any of the places where wine reigns supreme, then you need enough knowledge to impress your date, your boss, or your friends. Consider this Wine 101.
Red, White, and…That’s About It
At a fundamental level, red wines are made with red grapes, while white wines are made with white grapes. Also, the rule of thumb is that red wines are fermented with the grape’s skin and seeds while white wines are not. There are also different methods used to bring out the soft, rich, and velvety flavor of reds and the zesty acidity, floral aromas, and fruit notes of whites.
Is Your Wine Light, Medium, or Full?
The “body” of a glass of wine is the thickness or weight of it on your tongue. Wine body is broken into three categories: light, medium, and full. Imagine swirling skim milk, whole milk, and cream in your mouth, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the difference. The higher the alcohol content of your wine, the more full-bodied it will probably be.
Let’s Talk Tannins
Tannin is a substance that comes from the skin of a grape, and much like the fullness of your wine’s body, you can identify tannin by feel. After a sip of high-tannin wine, your mouth will feel dried out. Tannins are most noticeable in fuller-bodied, higher-alcohol red wines.
Where Was Your Wine Bottled?
If your wine is European, then it will be identified by the region where it was made. Think of Rioja (from Spain) or Bordeaux (from France). In contrast, a bottle of wine from anywhere else in the world is usually named for the type of grape used to make it, such as Malbec or Pinot Grigio.
The Six Grapes You Need to Know
If you are a beginner in the world of wine, then the first thing you need to learn is the six most popular grapes: three red and three white. Each grape is associated with a different body type.
- Pinot Noir: red grape, light body
- Merlot: red grape, medium body
- Cabernet Sauvignon: red grape, full body
- Riesling: white grape, light body
- Sauvignon Blanc: white grape, medium body
- Chardonnay: white grape, full body
These six grapes will give you a solid frame of reference when exploring wines made from the dozens of other grapes used around the world.
Some Wines Don’t Get Better with Age
A wine’s vintage is the year when it was made, and a bottle from 1890-whatever isn’t necessarily more delicious than one from 2017. In fact, many modern wines have been specially-crafted to ensure that they taste best when poured within a few months of production.
Don’t Settle for a “Corked” Wine
If you order a bottle of wine in a restaurant, then your waiter will pour a small amount into your glass before serving it. This wine isn’t meant for a taste-test. Instead, you are supposed to smell the wine to determine if it is “corked,” or has gone bad. To find out if your bottle is among the one to two percent that are corked, first swirl it and then give it a sniff. If it smells musty or damp, it’s corked.
Yes, You Do Need to Swirl Your Wine
Wine connoisseurs aren’t just being fancy when they give their glass a swirl. This movement releases the wine’s aroma, which is where much of the flavor comes from. To properly swirl your wine, pick up your glass by the base of the stem with your thumb and index finger. Then, imagine that you are drawing small circles with the glass on your tabletop.
Your Wine Needs to Breathe, Too
When you first open a bottle of full-bodied red wine, it may taste too sharp or edgy. If you “decant” it or let it breathe, its flavor will begin to improve. Different wines may need a few minutes or a few hours to decant fully, so if you are preparing for a special occasion, you may need to pop open your bottle’s cork long before your first guests arrive.
The Number One Trend in Modern Wine Is Exploration
Many modern wine lovers are moving away from well-established brands and experimenting with unusual and unique bottles. This may mean picking up a Chinese wine, eco-sustainable “natural” wine, or a fresh and funky “orange” wine (i.e., white wine made with a traditional red wine fermentation method).
Ready to Conquer the World of Wine?
Consider this article your first taste of wine knowledge. If you want to explore more vintages, varietals, and regions, then you need an expert guide. At WTSO, our online wine sellers hand-select the world’s top wines. Then, we offer them at a discounted price during an online flash wine sale. To find out more, contact us today!