You see the critics on TV taking hours to taste and rate different wines. You read about pairing the right foods with the right wines. You may even feel overwhelmed when trying to order a glass in a restaurant.
If you’re new to the world of wine, this beginners guide will give you a simple easy overview with some facts you should know, to get you started on your journey.
First of all what is it?
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made mainly from fermented grapes. Many people separate it into two basic categories – red and white. However it’s not really as simple as that.
The way a wine tastes depends on several factors like the type of grape used, to the climate where the grapes were grown and when they were harvested, to the type and length of fermentation process – and more.
Another way people categorize wines is by “New World” and “Old World” wines. Old World means that the grapes were grown in Europe like France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal. New World means that the grapes were grown anywhere outside of Europe like California, New Zealand, Canada or Argentina.
Old World wines tend to use the name of the region where the wine was grown (for example, a red Bordeaux or a white Burgundy). New World wines tend to use the main grape used in the making of the wine (for example Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir).
What’s the best way to learn?
Well – to do your own tasting of course!
When you do a tasting, you’ll want to notice certain features. For example, the first thing you’ll do after looking at the color is to is smell the wine. You’ll want to observe the aromas as you sniff the glass.
For example does it smell fruity? Maybe like cherries or strawberries? Or maybe there’s a slight smell of grass or a mineral tone to it. Does it have vanilla undertones or maybe butterscotch?
Once you’ve sniffed the wine, you’ll want to take a little in your mouth and really savor it. You’ll notice if it’s sweet or dry (dry is the absence of sweetness). Maybe you taste a little acidity in it (like lemon). Maybe it will taste strong and tannic (tannins are what gives tea it’s strong mouth-puckering sensation).
After you’ve tasted the wine, notice how it finishes on your tongue – does it finish smoothly? Does it pretty much disappear right away? All of these things are different depending on the quality and type of wine.
A good wine will be what experts call “balanced”. This means that the alcohol, acidity, sweetness and tannins are all in balance – one does not overpower another.
While many people prefer to have a glass on its own after a hard days work, where wine really shines is when you pair it with the right meal.
Most beginners prefer to stick to the well-known rule – red wine with beef, white wine with chicken or fish. And this can serve you well. However as you get more tasting experience under your belt you may want to be a little more adventurous. There are plenty of food pairings that will really enhance both the taste of the wine – and the meal!
So those are a few of the basics. The great thing about wine is that it is very subjective.
You can learn as much or as little as you want. You can enjoy the journey – you don’t have to know it all. And you don’t have to get it all “right” (if there is such a thing!) But if you take your time and find out what you really like, you’re already on your way to being a connoisseur!
About Kate Fox writes for Beginner Guide To Wine a site offering you easy tips on wine basics, food pairings, tasting, storage tips and more. For a list of the best places to buy wine online visit Purchase Wine Online