Wine is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. It has been consumed for centuries, and evidence of wine production can be traced to ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. To drink it is an art and leisure; to discuss it can be a lifeline’s work. Terroir-driven wines, or the growing environment of the grape, are so important to a vineyard. It can provide unique flavor and aroma.
Some Wine Basics
Different wines have different characteristics
- The color and aroma of a wine can vary depending on the time of year the grapes are harvested. Red wines are more powerful, with more flavors, while white wines display subtler aromas.
- Wine types have names like Shiraz and Zinfandel used as labels. Still, these do not necessarily mean that the wine is a particular style within those categories—an example is Port (a fortified wine) with intense red fruit flavors. It does not necessarily share any qualities with the generic grape used for Port or any other type of red wine. Grape varieties determine what kind of wine will be produced from them.
- Wine labels should not be taken literally. The words “dry,” “sweet,” or “sparkling,” are just examples of wine descriptions. There are only three basic categories of wine, one being dry and two being sweet. Many wines are dry, tangy, and light or full in body and medium-bodied with pronounced fruit flavors; others may be full-bodied with less pronounced fruit flavors.
- White wine is not always sweet. White wines can be either dry or sweet. Dry white wines have less residual sugar than sweet whites and are often described as being “bracing,” “spicy,” or “acidy” in flavor. Sweet white wines can be very full-bodied and have pronounced fruit flavors.
- Drink what you like, but try something new often—wine is fun! Every wine has a different character and taste to it, which is what makes it interesting. With the amount of wine produced today (several thousand other brands in the United States alone), there is something for everyone!
- For best results, open the bottle at least one hour before drinking. It allows the wine to breathe, or “breathing” allows a chemical reaction that removes some of the sulfur released from the cork. It also allows more oxygen to reach the wine, making it taste better.
- Don’t drink white wine with fish. It’s true that red wines are generally thought to pair better with meat dishes than white wines, and this is because of an association that comes from color. Red wines tend to be red because of the presence of anthocyanins and pigments in grapes. White wines, however, contain much lower levels of these same pigments, so white wines do not pair well with red meat.
- After being open for 12 months, most wines will improve in quality by about 10 percent (or more), so it is worth buying new wines yearly at a store that sells them. Many wine experts maintain that the taste of new wines will be even better than that of older bottles simply because some oxygen has been introduced into the bottle, which helps with the development process.
- Wine is not just for wine experts. Just because you do not know a lot about wine does not mean that you will be unable to tell good wines from bad wines. If you like a particular taste that you are experiencing, chances are high that it will be a quality wine.
- Grape varieties determine what kind of wine will be produced from them; the winemaker and master blender control the style of the wine by using these grape varieties and blending different varietals to achieve specific tastes they want to accomplish in their finished wines.
- When ordering more than one bottle of wine, it is best to open them all simultaneously. Only then will you be able to tell how each wine tastes together.
- If you can afford it, consider buying an actual wine cellar with temperature-controlled storage and a humidifier for the wine to keep it fresh.
The wine industry is one of the largest industries in the world. Wine is produced on every continent, and thousands of years of research have gone into what makes wines taste the way they do. The best part is that there is a style of wine for everyone. No matter what type of wine you like, a wine style is right for you.