Wine for beginners: A friendly guide

Ah, wine - the elixir that has fascinated humanity for millennia. Whether you're a seasoned oenophile or just dipping your toes into the world of wine, welcome! Grab your glass and let's dive into the fascinating world of this ancient and delightful beverage.


What exactly is wine?

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice. It has been around for thousands of years and is enjoyed by people all over the world. There are many different types of wine, each with its own unique flavor and aroma.


How is wine made?

The winemaking process begins with the harvesting of grapes. The grapes are then crushed to release their juice. The juice is then fermented, which is a process where yeast converts the sugar in the juice into alcohol. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Once the fermentation process is complete, the wine is aged. This can be done in stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, or a combination of both. The aging process helps to develop the wine's flavor and aroma.

After aging, the wine is bottled and labeled. It is then ready to be enjoyed!


What are the different types of wine?

There are many different types of wine, but they can be generally classified into three categories: red wine, white wine, and rosé wine.

  • Red wine is made from red grapes. The skins of red grapes are left in contact with the juice during fermentation, which gives the wine its red color and tannins. Tannins are compounds that give red wine its dry, mouth-drying sensation.
  • White wine is made from green grapes or from red grapes that have had their skins removed before fermentation. This results in a wine that is lighter in color and less tannic than red wine.
  • Rosé wine is made from red grapes, but the skins are removed early in the fermentation process. This gives the wine a pink color and a lighter flavor profile than red wine.
  • Orange wine: This wine is made from white grapes that are fermented with their skins on. This gives the wine a unique orange color and flavor profile.

In addition to red, white, rosé, and orange wine, there are also a number of other types of wine, such as sparkling wine, dessert wine, and fortified wine.

Sparkling wine is made by adding a second fermentation to the wine, which produces carbon dioxide bubbles. Sparkling wine can be made from red, white, or rosé grapes.

Dessert wine is a sweet wine that is often served with dessert. Dessert wines are typically made from white grapes, but they can also be made from red grapes.

Fortified wine is a wine that has been distilled spirits added to it. This makes the wine stronger and more alcoholic. Fortified wines include port, sherry, and marsala.


How to choose a wine

When choosing a wine, it is important to consider the occasion, the food you will be pairing it with, and your personal preferences.

  • Occasion: If you are choosing a wine for a special occasion, you may want to consider a higher-quality wine. If you are choosing a wine for a casual gathering, you may want to choose a more affordable option.
  • Food: Different wines pair well with different foods. For example, red wine is often paired with red meat and game, while white wine is often paired with chicken, fish, and seafood.
  • Personal preferences: Ultimately, the best way to choose a wine is to try different wines and find what you like. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to wine!


How to serve wine

Once you have chosen a wine, it is important to serve it properly.

  • Temperature: Red wine should be served at room temperature (around 18-21°C). White wine should be served slightly chilled (around 8-12°C). Sparkling wine should be served chilled (6-9°C).
  • Decanting: Decanting is the process of pouring wine from the bottle into a decanter. This helps to remove any sediment from the wine and also aerates the wine, which can help to improve its flavor.
  • Pouring: When pouring wine, hold the bottle by the neck and tilt it at a 45-degree angle. Pour a small amount of wine into the glass, swirling it gently to coat the sides of the glass. Then, fill the glass to about two-thirds full.


How to taste wine

Tasting wine is a fun way to learn more about different wines and to develop your own palate. It's not as scary as it sounds, and there's no right or wrong way to do it. Here's a quick guide:

  1. Look: Pour a small amount of wine into a glass and hold it up to the light. What color is it? Is it clear or cloudy? The color of a wine can give you clues about its age, grape variety, and region.
  2. Swirl: Swirl the wine in your glass. This helps to release the wine's aromas.
  3. Smell: Take a deep sniff of the wine. What do you smell? Common wine aromas include fruits, flowers, herbs, and spices.
  4. Taste: Take a small sip of the wine and let it roll around in your mouth. Pay attention to the different flavors that you can taste. Common wine flavors include fruits, berries, herbs, spices, and oak.
  5. Finish: Pay attention to the aftertaste of the wine. How long does it last? Is it pleasant or unpleasant?

Wine tasting isn't about being a connoisseur; it's about enjoying and appreciating the experience. Look, swirl, smell, sip, and savor. What flavors can you detect? Is it acidic, sweet, bitter, or well-balanced? Trust your palate!

Wine is an invitation to celebrate life, to pause and savor its myriad of flavors and aromas. It's about the memories we create, the laughter we share, and the stories we tell over a glass of this ancient nectar. So, here's to the beauty of wine - may your glass always be full and your heart even fuller. Cheers!



Image credits: Denis Sousa