I didn’t get my basic understanding of wine from any one place. I got a bit of it from my dad, a bit of it from reviews and critics, and a bit of it from wine tastings. Over time I’m learning more about wine, and my appreciation for it is growing. I feel like the only setback to enjoying wine is not knowing how to enjoy them. We should know what’s out there, first of all.
With that in mind, I give you The Basics of Wine – 1
Let me start from the top – the four major groups of wines:
table, sparkling, fortified, and sweet.
Table wine is what you commonly see at a dinner or party. There are three types of table wine: red, white, and rosé. Red wine is more widely-renowned for its complex flavors and exotic varieties. White wine is crisp, refreshing and best served chilled. Rosé is actually red wine, not white. The grape skins are removed within hours of pressing, and that brief moment in comparison is what gives rosé its light and fruity taste, also best served chilled.
Sparkling wine is a luxury, a gift for all celebrations. A bottle of Champagne comes over to your table, and the party begins with the pop of the cork. Carbon dioxide bubbles shoot out the top, and long thin glasses fill and free the bubbles within. These bubbles are naturally made from the grapes, grown in Champagne, France. If it’s not from Champagne, it’s not Champagne. Sparkling wine is made all over the world, and the climate of that region alone is what makes it so unique.
Fortified wine is made through a crafted process. Alcohol, like Brandy or Liqueur, is added during and/or after fermentation. This infusion stops the fermentation process altogether, and increases the alcohol content significantly. Popular types include Marsala, Port, and Vermouth. You can find these wines in nice bars and kitchens even, as the natural flavors go great in cooking.
Sweet wine is a real treat. The grapes are altered during the fermentation process to give them a unique, sugary taste. There are different types of alterations which render different end products. For instance, Ice wine is made from grapes that are frozen on the vine. Late Harvest and Noble Rot are the two other known styles, made by leaving the grapes on the vine for extended amounts of time. Only the finest grapes with certain bacterial ingredients are selected to produce these kinds of wines.
With an understanding of the different types of wine out there, I think it’s high time to try a few (if you’re old enough). Grapes are divine, and good for you. Go drink some grape juice on a nice spring day, or have some friends over with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bruschetta on the table. Toast to someone’s success over a bottle of Dom Pérignon. Whatever choice in wine you make, it’s sure to be a good one now that you know what to choose from.
In the next section, I’ll talk more about the flavors and tastes in wine, as well as how to recognize and taste them.