Wine is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It is consumed by just about every country and in huge quantities. Whether you are considering working in the wine industry or just want to show off your knowledge, you have come to the right place. Although the internet might contain a ton of information about wine, it can be difficult to find concise information from a single post. To help you save time, this ultimate guide to drinking and buying wine aims to provide you with all the information you need. To ensure that you sound like a wine expert the next time you head out to shop, read on.
What Is Wine?
Wine is the fermented juice of a wine grape. It consists of many seeds. However, there are two types of grapes that are most popular. These include white grapes which are green-colored and black grapes which are red-colored. Even though most wine might be made using grapes, they are not the same as the ones you find in your nearest grocery store. Wine grapes tend to be smaller and much sweeter. They also contain seeds and have thick skins.
Despite the fact that there are more than 1,300 wine grape varieties, only 100 of these are found in around 75 percent of the vineyards across the globe. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted wine grape. The truth is that there is plenty to know about wine and for good reason. Each type requires you to learn many facts which will be covered here.
History of Wine
To earn bonus points whenever at a party or event where wine is being consumed, it is a great idea to learn about the history of wine. It is more than just an alcoholic beverage. In fact, it has had a huge impact on society as a whole. People have consumed the beverage for thousands of years due to its nutritious properties, delicious taste, and intoxicating effects. Evidence of the very first fermented grape drink that dates back to 7,000 BC was found in China and there is also evidence that suggests that wine was consumed in Georgia as far back as 6,000 BC. There is even an ancient wine-producing facility in Armenia, known as Areni-1 Winery which is over 6,000 years old. Wines were traded between countries in 1,200 BC and helped facilitate import and export. However, it was the Greeks who perfected the drink and even named a god for wine. Then, the Romans continued this legacy which led to France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal producing some of the best wines in the world. Here is the background of wine production in each country.
Wine is a staple in the country of Italy. Data reveals that Italian wine is the most produced and makes up as much as a quarter of wine production in the world. The fact is that the country has a rich winemaking history and is responsible for wine becoming popular throughout the Christian world. The nation has more than 500 different grape varieties that are planted in more than a million vineyards throughout the country. Each region in Italy has its own specialty. For instance, Moscato wine is produced in the region of Piedmont, Northern Italy. It is a sweet white wine that offers a touch of elderflower, orange blossom, and peach.
When people talk about wine, France is a country that is normally referred to. The French are masters of wine production. French wine regions are widely known across the globe. The Burgundy wine region produces the finest wine and is the most expensive. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are made in Burgundy and are the priciest. However, Champagne receives the most recognition. Another popular wine region is Bordeaux that produces delicious red wines like Cabernet dazzle and Merlot.
The Spanish drink more than just sangria. The country has a diverse climate and terrain which is reflected in its wine. But, their classification system is not as well-structured as that of France. However, it allows for more varied and exciting wines to be made. Blends made from mixed grapes are more popular in the country. The fruity taste of Spanish wine is what makes it stand out. Rioja is a well-known wine region in the country that produces some of the most delicious red wine.
4. The United States
The United States also produces some of the best wines in the world. However, it is easy for people to overlook the country as a wine destination. America is the fourth-largest producer of wine. Just about every US state produces wine. But, California accounts for 90 percent of wine production in the country. In fact, Californian wines are just as good as wines from European regions. As more people discover American wine, there is an increase in appreciation for wine contribution by the country. Despite the prohibitions against the production of wine in the country during the 1930s, wine production quickly returned and the US took the title for being the number one country for wine consumption by volume. Napa and Sonoma are the two regions in California that are visited by wine lovers from across the globe. Zinfandel is the most popular grape in the region, whereas, Cabernet Sauvignon takes the second spot. Besides the Sunshine State, Oregon is also a notable wine-producing location in the country that produces delicious Pinot Noir.
Types of Wine
Black grapes are fermented with grape skins, stems, and seeds to produce red wine. As it is high in tannins, it has a dry and bitter taste when you take a sip. As a beginner, you will find the following red wines to be an amazing choice.
• Cabernet Sauvignon
• Pinot Noir
When it comes to food pairings, red wine goes well with hearty dishes that contain red meat like burgers, BBQ ribs, pizza, pasta, and steak. It is best that you drink red wine at room temperature or slightly below. The reason behind this is that if it is chilled, the tannins would become bitter. It is important to mention here that newer or darker wine has more tannins. Therefore, you should go for an older wine as it would taste less dry or bitter.
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Black grapes and white grapes are used to make white wines. White wines are not fermented with grape skins like red wines. The skins are separated instead which allows for only clear grape juice to be produced. White wines also have fewer tannins. Thus, they offer a tartier, crisper, and fresher flavor. The following white wines should be tasted for the best experience.
• Pinot Grigio
• Sauvignon Blanc
White wines should be paired with a lighter dish such as seafood, poultry, chips, popcorn, salad, cheese, tacos, and curries. The best thing about the wine type is that you can drink it chilled for the best flavor.
Rosé wines are also extremely popular. They are known for their pink or blush color. In order to create such a beautiful color, the juice of black grapes is fermented with the skins for a shorter time which ranges from a few hours to just a few days. Similar to white wine, it also tends to be low in tannins. However, there are some rosés that are rather dry. This wine type is a sure crowd-pleaser during the summer because of its light and sweet flavor. You can pair rosé with snacks and light dishes such as cheese, chips and salsa, fruit, fish, and poultry. Many people have a misconception that it is made by mixing white and red wines. However, it could not be further from the truth.
Also known as “bubbly”, sparkling wines are made using white and black grapes. They are carbonated wines that contain carbon dioxide due to fermentation. Champagne is the most popular sparkling wine in the world. It is commonly found in weddings and New Year celebrations. The best sparkling wines are champagne and prosecco. You can easily pair sparkling wine with light food such as seafood, popcorn, fresh fruit, salad, and soft cheeses. The main reason why champagne is served in tall, slender glasses is because they help retain the bubbles and the temperature of the wine. Sparkling wines are named after the region where they are made such as Champagne in France.
5. Dessert Wines and Fortified Wines
Dessert wines and fortified wines are normally grouped together because the lines get blurred on what actually makes for a dessert wine. However, it is important to note that these two types of wine have their share of distinctive characteristics. Dessert wines are sweet wines that are normally consumed after eating a meal. Newbies should stick to Moscato and Icewine as these two wines taste delicious. You can pair them with crème brûlée, chocolate, biscotti, vanilla pudding, cake, and soft cheeses. Fortified wines are made by adding spirits like brandy during the fermentation process. Thus, only the wines that contain lower alcohol content are considered dessert wines. Marsala, Madeira, Sherry, and Port are some of the best-fortified wines. You can have these with nuts, cheese, chocolate, and baked goods like tarts. It is important to note that fortified wines have the highest alcohol content.
How to Taste Wine?
Now that you know more about different types of wine, it is time that you learned to taste it. Here is how you should taste wine.
• Swirl: Once you pour the wine, view it under natural light and swirl the glass to release the aromas. As the wine swirls, the aromas would attach to oxygen and you would be able to identify the scent.
• Sniff: To get a sense of the aroma, you can also smell the wine. It will allow you to notice hints of fruits and flavor such as tropical and citrusy so that you can get a sense of the taste.
• Taste: Finally, you can proceed with taking a sip of the wine to assess the taste. The taste would be fruity, bitter, or sour. You may also feel a sense of drying in the mouth upon tasting.