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Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Vino 101: General Overview & Appreciation

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By Anjali Kundra

Have you ever wandered around the wine section in your local liquor or grocery store, and found yourself completely lost amongst rows of foreign names and fancy labels?

Why should you learn about wine? Wine can be intimidating and overwhelming. When faced with making a decision, we occasionally resort to the least (or most) expensive, or even the most alluring bottle, without much consideration of the quality or taste of the wine. While this method can work out sometimes, wouldn’t you like to know what you’re really drinking?Vino 101: Wine Appreciation Tips

Wine is like golf in business; some of the best deals are sealed over a bottle of red. The motto might be "Dress to Impress" – but don’t forget a great glass of wine! Wine appreciation can be a great hobby, and for many people, it’s a passion. You can explore the vineyards of the world from your living room. Start your adventure now!

Vino 101: Touching on the Basics

It’s vital to have some basic insight into the wine making process, as well as the common terminology, especially if you plan on impressing friends, family and clients.

The type of grape vine used to make wine is the most important factor affecting the taste of your bottle – but it’s not the only one. Natural factors like climate, soil, and exposure to sunlight, as well as yeast and the fermentation process, all play a role in how your wine tastes. This is why you can buy the same wine from a different region and have it taste drastically different.

The term “Varietal”, which you may have heard from a wine savvy friend, is the type of grape used in a wine. Some wines contain a combination of varietals, but to be the named wine, it must contain a majority of the main varietal.

Red vs. White

Most people already know if they prefer red or white wine. But they can range dramatically in both dryness and sweetness as a result of the fructose. Here’s a brief list of distinct differences between the two:

  • During the fermentation process,  the skin and stems of the grape are left on after pressing for red wine, while everything is removed when making white wines.
  • Tannins are present in red wine, but not white. This is because the tannins are released from the stems and peels into the mixture. Tannins give red wine its robust layers of flavor, making red wine generally more complex than white. As wine ages, tannins in the wine soften within the wine. This is why aged red wine is more valuable.

Next time you need to choose between red and white, don’t forget about the other choices you have! Dessert wines, rose wines and sparkling wines are all great, light alternatives. A quick overview:

  • Dessert wines, like Port, have spirits added to them for higher ABV
  • Rose wines are light and fruity like white wines, but are pink in color and made from red wine varietals
  • Champagne only comes from northern France; in general, other carbonated whites are called sparkling wines.

Discover Your Favorite

To list the wines of the world would be a grueling task for a beginner to understand. For your first step, put your palette to the test and become familiar with the most common wines available. The next time you’re in the wine section, take a look and learn about what you are buying. You will eventually build your own knowledge of wine and wine tools, and find your favorite. We wish you a safe and happy wine experience!

  • Red Wine
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Merlot
    • Pinot Noir
    • Shiraz/Syrah
    • Zinfande
  • White Wine
    • Chardonnay
    • Pinot Blanc
    • Pinot Gris/Grigio
    • Riesling
    • Savignon/Fume Blanc
  • Dessert Wine
    • Port
    • Sherry
    • Vermouth

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