Welcome to wine 101! The first step of understanding good wine is to realize that it's not a simple process of drinking. Every bit of the experience counts, how you feel the aroma, absorb the flavor and relish the lingering goodness of the finish. Wines are broadly classified into five styles (rose, white, red, sparkling and dessert), each having its unique attributes: body, aroma, sweet or tangy flavor, hue, alcohol content and more.
If you are just getting started, this basic wine guide will change your approach towards wine tasting and choosing a wine keeping with your taste. So next time you visit the wine store, try wines from these five different styles, pair them with your favorite food, and gradually you will grow a sense and taste for good wine.
How to Taste Wine
It takes a certain amount of focus, dedication and practice to master the art of wine tasting. Give it a good gentle swirl to intensify oxygen density inside the glass that boosts the aromatic quality of the wine.
Not everyone can sniff out and fathom all the subtle primary and secondary aromas tangled in a complex wine. Try to focus solely on the flavors and scent and then take a sip. You don’t want to gulp it down all at once. Swish the wine and try to isolate the flavors and finally feel the finish as you swallow.
No one will judge if you slug your wine straight from the bottle, but having a proper set of wine glasses never harms. The specific curves of wine glasses are meant to enhance the key qualities of the drink. For instance, always serve white wines in smaller bowled glasses. That way, the floral aroma will keep, so will the cooler temperature. Bordeaux glasses with a wider opening help to tone down the bitterness of tannin in red wine and makes it taste even smoother.
Types of Wine
This bubbly drink is produced traditionally from any variety of grapes, most commonly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The process of secondary fermentation in a bottle or steel tank results in the seductive bubbles of sparkling wines. Champagne is often confused as being synonymous with sparkling wine. But sparkling wines produced outside this French region are not named after Champagne. You can pair sparkling wines along with cheese, salty entrees or fish.
Light-bodied White Wine
Light-bodied white wines are the beers of the wine family, widely available at a reasonable price. Flavors of these crisp and tart wines range from melon, apple, grapefruit to peach. You can enjoy them when still young(within one or two years of bottling), paired with fresh herbs, sushi or shellfish. Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are most common in this category.
Full-bodied White Wine
Full-bodied white wines go through a long aging process, typically three to ten years long in oak barrels. Oak aging brings a subtle smoothness and creaminess to the finish, with a distinct touch of butter, vanilla and coconut notes. Chardonnay or Semillon are the classic choices for full-bodied white wines that go along with seafood, such as risotto with asparagus or lobster, roasted vegetables and white meat.
Light-bodied Red Wine
When served in a right large stem, you can smell a delightful fruity aroma of the lightest of red wines made from thinner-skinned red grapes. Both hue and tannin of these wines are on a lighter scale. The bright acidic flavor of light-bodied red wines comes from cranberry, cherries, blackberry and mushrooms. Pinot Noir and Gamay are two most delicate tasting examples of this red style, paired well with cheese and meat.
Full-bodied Red Wine
Full-bodied red wines are relished for their rich dark color, tannic bitterness, and high alcohol content. The more time it sits along with thick-skinned grapes and seed in oak barrels, the better. Fermenting in a warmer climate contributes to the fuller body and strong alcoholic nature of this variety. You can try classic full-bodied, bold red wines such as Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy steaks.
Instead of fermenting the juice with red grapes’ skins like red wine, this wine is let to sit with the skins for a couple of hours, which gives a slight pink hue and the tannic quality of rose wine. Its fresh fruity flavor ranges from melon, strawberry and raspberry to citrus. Serve chilled with spicy Thai or Mexican dishes.
Fortified and Dessert Wine
Dessert wines range from dry to sweet as the fermenting is stopped midway to hold the natural sugar content. Later these are fortified by the added spirit to increase the alcohol level, producing some very bold yet intensely flavored wines. You can start exploring dessert wines with Port or Sherry, accompanied by any sweet course such as cakes and cookies.