The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented grape juice. The type of grape, vintage and winemaking process defines the taste experience. However, drinking wine is more than simply consuming an alcoholic beverage; it is an enjoyable experience. Our wine guide aims at enhancing your experience by helping you understand the basics of wine, terms that help you understand various wine styles and how to taste them.

 

 

Wine Basics

Wine is mostly made with grapes and wine grapes (latin name Vitis Vinifera) are smaller, sweeter, have thick skins and contain seeds. For commercial production, there are over 1,300 wine grape varieties but only about 100 of these varieties make up 75% of the world’s vineyards. These grape varieties are planted by wine producers across the world. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted wine grape in the world. However, other important red wine grape varieties are Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir and white grape varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.

Five Main Types of Wine

All wines can be arranged into five basic groups. Within each group there are hundreds of different grape varieties and winemaking styles.

Red Wine

Red wines range from light to bold and are still wine made with black grapes. Some of the important red wine grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Grenache and Pinot Noir.

White Wine

In white wines, the flavors range from light to rich and are still wine produced from white and occasionally black grapes. Some of the important white wine grape varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.

Rosé Wine

Rosé is a still wine from black grapes produced by removing the skins before they taint the wine deep red. Rosé is also made by blending white and red wine together. Both dry and sweet styles of rosé are popular.

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine can be red, white or rosé and ranges from lean and dry, to rich and sweet. The winemaking style involves a secondary fermentation that makes bubbles

Dessert Wine

Mostly, dessert wines taste sweet, but many dry, fortified wines exist, such as dry Sherry. The winemaking style involves fortifying wine with spirits.

Wine bottles

Five Main Types of Wine

How do you Drink Wine?

The wine guide takes you through the process of tasting wines.

  1. Take a look at the label of the bottle This will give us an understanding of the source of the wine such as type of grape and how old is it (vintage).
  2. Pick the right glassware Make sure you choose the right one for sparkling, white and red wines.
  3. Hold the glass appropriately A wine glass should be held by the stem. This will prevent heat and smell from your hand interfering with the wine aromas.
  4. Pour and Swirl Pour about one third of the glass and gently swirl the wine in the glass. Swirling wine in the glass will increase the amount of oxygen in the glass thus intensifying the wine aromas mainly in the reds.
  5. Sniff the glass of wine You will get aroma intensity depending on the complexity of wine. Simple wines will have primary aromas of fruit, however complex wines will additionally have secondary aromas generating from the winemaking process. Lastly, tertiary aromas of vessel ageing such as oak will be present in wines subjected to ageing.
  6. Taste the wine. Sip not swallow, swish the wine around in your mouth to absorb the flavors. Take time to assess the intense flavor and then swallow to get the finish. A good finish will linger on your palate for quite some time. In professional tasting, you spit out the wine to compare and analyze different wine styles.

How do you Drink Red Wine?

At room temperature or a touch below. You can put your reds in the fridge for a few minutes before opening as the wine tastes better.

How do you Drink White Wine?

For whites with roundness and richness, it’s helpful to let them warm up in the glass as you drink. Do not over chill as it will affect the taste.

How do you Drink Rosé Wine?

Chill the rosé wine between 30 minutes and three hours. Do not over chill as it will affect the taste and bouquet.

How do you Drink Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

Store it in a cool, dry place. 30 minutes before serving, you should put the Champagne or Sparkling wine into an ice bucket or in the fridge. A flute is a must for making sure the Champagne or Sparkling wine stays as bubbly as possible.

Wine opener

Wine Bottle Opener

How do you Open a Bottle of Wine?

There are different types of wine bottles and most have corks or screw caps. The Champagne or Sparkling wine bottles have cork with a cage and therefore, needs to be opened in a different way than a still wine bottle.

How do you Open a Bottle of Still Wine?

The wine bottles have corks or screw caps. A Screw Cap is simple, you open it as a regular bottle. For Corked bottles:

  • Corkscrew is required to open a corked bottle of wine
  • Start by removing the foil on top rim of the cork (professionally the foil below the large lip of the bottle is removed), using the small blade in the corkscrew.
  • Twist the spiral of corkscrew into the cork.
  • Lift the handle of the corkscrew, once almost half of the corkscrew is in the cork, to remove cork from the bottle.

How do you Open a Bottle of Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

The bottle of Champagne or Sparkling wine should be appropriately chilled, or else the pressure inside the bottle will cause the cork to release very quickly.

  • Use a wine key to remove the foil below the large lip of the bottle.
  • Use a napkin or a towel (folded lengthwise) and put it over the cage and the cork for preventing the cork to fly off.
  • Untwist the cage counterclockwise and keep the pressure on the cork to keep it from prematurely popping out.
  • Twist the bottle and not the cork.
  • Once the bottle starts to loosen from the cork and can spin freely, slowly pull the cork away from the bottle.
  • The slower the cork separates itself from the bottle, the gentler hiss (opening sound) will occur. Therefore, you can control the cork separating itself from the bottle despite the pressure.

How Long Does Open Wine Last?

It depends on the type of wine and storage conditions. For any wine the taste changes subtly after the first day, as the wine oxidizes. The “spoiled” wine is essentially vinegar, so it is not harmful. Therefore, storage conditions are critical to the taste experience of various wines.

How Long Does Open White Wine Last?

The overall fruit character of the wine will diminish and become less vibrant.

  • 5-7 days in the fridge with a cork for most light white wines.
  • 3-5 days in fridge with a cork for full-bodied white wines.

How Long Does Open Red Wine Last?

The more tannin and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening. Therefore, a light red with very little tannin won’t last open as long as a powerful red.

  • 3-5 days in a cool dark place with a cork.

How Long Does Open Rosé Wine Last?

The overall fruit character of the wine will diminish and become less vibrant.

  • 5-7 days in the fridge with a cork for most light white wines.

How Long Does Open Champagne or Sparkling Wine Last?

Champagne or Sparkling wines lose their carbonation quickly after opening. The lasting of these wines also depends on the winemaking method.

  • 1-3 days in the fridge with a sparkling wine stopper.

How Long Does Open Fortified Wine Last?

The sweeter the dessert wine, the longer it will last open.

  • 28 days in a cool dark place with a cork, best to keep them stored in the fridge.

Can you Drink Mulled Wine Cold?

Mulled wine is also known as spiced wine. It is usually made with red wine along various mulling spices, sometimes raisins. Traditional drink during winters, especially around Christmas.

It is served hot and warm and has both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.

The aromas released by the spices when heated, makes mulled wine delicious. These aromas only come out when the wine is hot adding deeper flavor to the wine.

If you drink cold mulled wine, you will not get the subtle aromas and flavors and the taste experience will not be the same.

What Happens if you Drink Old Wine?

The wine will have lost its fruit flavors, taken on nutty notes and the color will have started to turn brown.  It's not harmful, but it won't taste good.  Even if the wine has turned to vinegar, it would be unpleasant to drink, but not dangerous.

Wine has a super-simple definition, yet it is an extraordinarily complex category of alcoholic beverage that encompasses several varietals, an endless number of terroirs (areas where a given wine was produced) and a vast lexicon full of terms. Through this wine guide, our attempt has been to acquaint you to the elementary level of the wine concept.

 

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY

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