Wine guide for beginners has become a mandatory issue nowadays. Tasting wine is not always an easy job without having a good sense of wine. This article will cover almost everything you need to know about wine tasting and pairing.
- Basics of Wine
- Difference between Wine & Beer
- What is the term – ‘Vintage’?
- What is Single-Varietal Wine?
- Wine Blend
- What is Wine Body? (e.g. light-bodied, full-bodied)
- General rules for Full, medium or light-bodied wine
- Light-bodied wine
- Medium-bodied wine
- Full-bodied wine
- How Many Types of Wine Are There?
- Sparkling wine
- Light-bodied White Wine
- Full-Bodied White Wine
- Aromatic White Wine
- Rosé wine
- Light-bodied Red Wine
- Oak Aged (Definition and Example)
- What is Oak Aging?
- Medium-bodied Red Wine
- Full-Bodied Red Wine
- Dessert Wine
- Understanding Wine Label
- ✔ Producer or Name
- ✔ Region
- ✔ Variety
- ✔ Vintage or Non-Vintage
- ✔ Volume of Alcohol
- Wine Etiquette & Serving Tips | A Stewart’s Style
- What is the Perfect Wine Temperature
- Choose the Perfect Wine Glass | Beginners’ Wine Guide
- Why Perfect Wine Glass Matters
- ✤ Small-Bowled Glass for White Wine
- ✤ Large-Bowled Glass for Red Wine
- ✤ Specialty Glasses for Sparkling Wine and Dessert Wine
- How to Swirl Wine | Ultimate wine guide
- Why We Swirl Wine?
- Steps & Techniques of Wine Swirling
- Common Wine Faults | How to Figure Them Out?
- Wine Flaws and Wine Faults | The Difference
- Here are the Wine Faults
- Heat Damage
- Ultra-Violate Light Damage
- Microbial and Bacterial Infection
- Wine Guide to FOOD Pairing
- External References:
Basics of Wine
Wine is a fermented alcoholic beverage made up of grapes. Latin name of that grape is ‘Vitis vinifera’ which cannot be found in stores or other grocery stores you move daily. This kind of grapes is comparably small, sweet and also contains thick skin along with small seeds. There are more than 1,2000 types of identical variety but wine is commercially made from of an around 150 (roughly) types of grape.
Wine can also be made by apples, cranberries and palm. As we said earlier that wine is an alcoholic beverage but it’s not the same as beer.
Difference between Wine & Beer
Wine is a fermented alcoholic beverage which comes from fruit and beer comes from grain. As alcohol comes from sugar, and fruits are filled with natural sugar so its fermentation happens naturally. Most beer manufacturing starts from malted barley, brewers and also rice & corn.
What is the term – ‘Vintage’?
The word vintage is closely related to the aged wine. ‘Vint’ means wine manufacturing and ‘age’ represents time frame. Therefore, the wine is fermented over a year called ‘Vintage’ and we call Non-Vintage to others. That is why we see the sign ‘NV’ (non-vintage) in a bottle of Champaign.
What is Single-Varietal Wine?
The single-varietal wine named after a single variety of grapes. That means, the bottle is made from that particular grapes. Such as, the bottle of ‘Riesling’ is made from the Riesling grapes and that’s why the bottle is named after it. However, the percentage required to name single-variety varies upon continent. In USA (Except Oregon), Chili, Africa, Greece the minimum required percentage is 75%, In Argentina it is 80% and in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain & New Zealand the required percentage is 85%. In Oregon it’s 90%. (Data source)
Wine blend is producing wine from several grape varieties. Blending is the most traditional form of wine so far. Port wine is the greatest example of blend wine.
What is Wine Body? (e.g. light-bodied, full-bodied)
In order achieve a good sense of wine, you need to understand the term ‘Body’. In many cases, you will see Light-bodied red wine, Full-bodied white wine etc. The term ‘body’ does not represent shape rather it means something else.
Before understanding body, you need to know another term which is ‘Viscosity.’
Viscosity is feel that comes from the taste of alcohol. The more the alcohol you sip, the greater the amount of viscosity you will feel.
Here comes the wine body, while making a wine sip – light mouthfeel happens from a lesser amount of alcohol (viscosity) and HEAVY MOUTHFEEL occur in response to a substantial amount of alcohol (thickness).
General rules for Full, medium or light-bodied wine
When the percentage of alcohol (written in the level) if 12.5% or below 12.5%, the wine is light-bodied. So, when you make a sip – it will be a light mouthfeel. These are generally white wines mainly crisps and refreshing. Good examples of these wines are Riesling, Italian Prosecco and Vinho Verde.
If the percentage of alcohol is between 12.5% to 13.5% then the wine is a medium-bodied. Good examples of these wines are Rose, French Burgundy, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
The alcohol percentage reaches the amount of 13.5%, the wine is called as Full-bodied that creates heavy mouthfeel while making a sip. Some of the good examples of full-bodied wines are Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. While the majority of wines over 13.5% alcohol are usually red, Chardonnay (Data Source)
Due to having the carbon dioxide heavily, sparkling wine looks so fizzy. The most common example of sparkling wine is champagne which is produced in the Champagne region of France.
The natural sparkling appearance comes from the standard fermentation of inherent carbon dioxide but some of the cheap sparkling wine may have artificially added carbon dioxide.
Usually, the sparkling wine looks white or rose, but there is some red sparkling wine such as Australian sparkling Shiraz, ‘Pearl of Azerbaijan’ from Azerbaijan etc. Read our latest wine serving tips.
Light-bodied White Wine
This kind of wine has an alcohol percentage of 12.5% or lesser. As higher alcohol makes greater viscous, so lower alcohol creates thin light mouthfeel. Also, light-bodied wines have less amount of sugar with higher acidity.
You can also call the light-bodied wine with no sugar because the organic sugar has converted into the alcohol during the fermentation process. Some good examples can be Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio), Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño and Soave (“swah-vay”) etc. Do not forget to read our latest article that describes wine cooling tips and tricks.
Full-Bodied White Wine
Full-bodied white wines are strong in texture with a higher amount of alcohol (more than 13.5%). It creates heavier mouthfeel due to having higher alcohol and more sugar.
Stronger texture with more robust flavour helps full-bodied white wine pair with dishes with cream sauces, heavy cheese, cream, heavy meats etc. Some great example of full-bodied white wine can be Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. While the majority of wines over 13.5% alcohol are usually red. These types of wine require perfect temperature in order to preserve original taste. Read our latest wine cooler buying guide.
Aromatic White Wine
Aromatic white wine is special for their inherent super special aromas. If you are in love with the aroma, you can easily sniff and sip a glass of wine for an hour. The freshness and intense healing compound just made the wine awesome to have.
Its sweet and the aromatic grapes are one of the oldest variety in the world. You can try Gewürztraminer (made from Lychee, Rose, Pink Grapefruit and Tangerine). I also love Albariño and Loureiro that comes from lemon, grapefruit, melon and lime blossom. If like something a bit dry – Torrontés can be a great choice (Rose Petal, Geranium, Lemon Zest and Peach).
Quick tip, you cannot preserve/cool an already opened / new bottle aromatic white wine in normal refrigerate. Because humidity can make the cork dry, and if so aroma will come out. Read more here about the difference between a refrigerator and wine cooler. You can buy the perfect wine cooler after reading the buying guide– in order to preserve the bottle of your vintage collection.
We all know that white wines come from green grapes and red wine is from the black grapes. Then where did rose/pink grape come from?
Pretty good question, I guess…
The answer is pretty simple. Wine get colours from the contact with its skin. Typically, the juice is extracted from grapes and it comes up with its natural colour. But when the grape skin is allowed to soak some of its juices, then the light colour comes in due to losing a part of the original colour. This process is known as maceration (Source)
When making Rosé wine, manufactures allows the grape skin to soak for 2 to 3 days. As soon as the beautiful rose colours come in, wine manufacturers remove the skin.
“a widespread misconception is – Rose wine is a mixture of green and black grape, but it’s not!”
One of the oldest dry rose wine comes from the northern part of France and the Pays d’Oc region. Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre are a good example of it.
Learn how to serve wine at a perfect temperature. Here’s we have presented almost 99 tips.
Light-bodied Red Wine
Light-bodied red wines are made from grapes of lighter/thinner skin. The skin obviously gives it a colour and also light tannins. This wine also has a lesser amount of alcohol that creates more watery and lighter mouthfeel.
Light-bodied red wines are rich in aroma & flavour. These lighter and variety of aromas also help to pair with a variety of foods. These wines also have a touch of vanilla, espresso and cinnamon. Oak ageing mainly elevates such variety of aroma that creates light-bodied red wines more acceptable.
A good example of light-bodied red wine is – Pinot Noir. It comes with the light body, pale colour, higher acidity and low tannins. It is oak aged and highly aromatic with its versatile fragments. You can also try Rioja, that comes from Rioja region of Spain. The grape varieties are blended with a higher portion of Tempranillo, moderate portion of Garnacha and with the fewer percentage of Mazuelo. The Tempranillo creates wine’s vintage ageing ability, Garnacha gives it body and tannins while the Mazuelo gives it spicy flavours and other aromas.
If you have any query regarding wine cooling, Our FAQ checklist might help you in this regard.
Oak Aged (Definition and Example)
First of all – Oak is a tree that bears acorns as fruit, and typically has lobed deciduous leaves. Oak is also renowned for durable wood.
What is Oak Aging?
A wine goes into the contact of Oak, its flavour, colour and aromas enhance. Such as, when white wines go into oak, its white colour turns onto a slight yellowish nature.
However, red wine does not receive a great impact from getting oaked. But, research suggests – Red wine colour becomes darker after oak ageing.
Do not forget to choose the best cooling method for your oak aged collections.
Medium-bodied Red Wine
Medium-bodied red wines are also known as food wine because of the nature that it pairs well with the variety of foods. You can find so many varieties of flavour at low to medium-bodied red wines.
Here we present some name of the medium-bodied red wine. Grenache, Valpolicella blend, Carménère, Carignan, Cabernet Franc are notable.
Full-Bodied Red Wine
Full-bodied red wines are the strongest and the darkest red wine. This wine is very popular for pairing with spicy and high-fat foods. It is more tannic than other variations. Full-bodied red wines are also popular and quite pleasing as the cocktail wine.
You can try Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and even Pinotage as the boldest version of wine.
Dessert wines are the most popular due to its dry to sweet nature. Usually, we call a wine dry when has no residual sugar. During the fermentation process, yeast consumes all sugar and it becomes dry at the end. But some winemakers stop their fermentation process before all sugar turns into alcohol. And it becomes sweet wine.
There are some sweet wine you can give a try. if you can start with a Port or a Sauternais-styled wine (a late harvest white wine), you’ll have a great preview of what dessert wines can offer.
Understanding Wine Label
In order to make your next sip, we need to ensure that you understand the wine label. There are two types of the label in the market. One indicates its brand name that further guide you to know what grapes it is made of. Another one is appellation credentials that assure the adoption appellation quality label rules.
Let us introduce you to the essential components of a wine label.
✔ Producer or Name
The producer name is found at the top or bottom of the bottle. It is also worth to mention that some of the American brands do not write the name of the producer such as ‘Apothic Red’.
The region tells where the wine came from. You already know that there are almost 2000 types of grapes and their region influence its colour and taste. The region often adds value due to having the professional vineyard that also ensures integrity and objectivity towards the customer.
Variety refers to single or multiple types of grapes. In the earlier of our article, we have talked about single and multiple variety grapes. However, not all countries regulate the variety but only 15. Check the earlier part of this article to know more.
✔ Vintage or Non-Vintage
We hope that you the term ‘Vintage’ (discussed earlier part of this article). Vintage wine is more expensive than non-vintage (NV) because the non-vintage wines use multiple vintages in order to control the flavour.
✔ Volume of Alcohol
In order to identify the wine body, you need to know the volume of alcohol. And, wine body is a must know fact to pair wine successfully with your food.
Wine Etiquette & Serving Tips | A Stewart’s Style
Learning wine etiquettes is more important than learning various types of wine. You do need to be a professional Stewart in order to serve wine at its perfect temperature.
A few days ago – we have published a detailed guide that focuses different wine techniques. From holding the glasses to pouring the wine, just everything is there.
Here we have presented a summary of our previous wine tips article.
✤ First, you need to choose which wine glass match with the bottle you’ve just picked up. In this regard, you may take help from our wine glass choosing guide.
✤ Holding the glass is also very important. You cannot touch the upper edge or somewhere in the middle. The etiquette is to touch the lower edge of your wine glass.
✤ Before opening the bottle present the label to your guest.
✤ Use a good corkscrew and follow the bottle opening tips with a corkscrew.
✤ After opening the cork, place the cork on the table.
✤ Before pouring, make sure you have used the napkin in order prevent any dripping on the tablecloth.
✤ Pour a little into the glass of your guest and ask him to confirm.
✤ Start pouring slowly to the clockwise right.
✤ Pour the half of the glass and follow the other steps.
What is the Perfect Wine Temperature
Recognizing the ideal temperature for your wine is a bit technical. Because serving the wine at too hot condition – enhance the alcohol level. On the other hand, serving in too cold condition makes wine’s tannins a bit of harsh and styptic. Our detailed guideline describes what is the ideal temperature for different varieties of wine.
✌ A quick reminder
Always serve red wines somewhere between the chilling temperature and the room temperature. Serving temperature needs to be higher the room temperature and lesser than the chilling temperature. Here you need to apply some analytical judgement. Try to serve the rich red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz at a warmer temperature than the light red wines such as Pinot Noir and Zinfandel in order to make it taste smoother. Usually, red wine requires 53-69 °F (12-21 °C)
Light dry wine, Rose wine, Sparkling wines require 53-69 °F. Chilling helps to preserve its freshness and fruitiness. It also keeps the bubbles perfect rather than becoming foamier. On the other hand, white wine often becomes sweetened if it gets warmer. So chilling helps to enjoy the vibrant aromas.Full-bodied white wines require 50-60 °F. Light, zesty white wines such as Chablis and Grenache Blanc require lower end of the temperature spectrum and oak-aged white wines at the higher end.
Choose the Perfect Wine Glass | Beginners’ Wine Guide
Not all the wine glasses are same. Based on nature, aroma, body – wine glasses vary. Here’s a complete guide for choosing the perfect wine glass.
Why Perfect Wine Glass Matters
You need different wine glasses for some special reasons. Some glasses keep aroma for a long time. Some other can keep the temperature. Glasses can also help flowing the sparkles smoothly and some can keep the tannins for a long time.
There are primarily three categories of a wine glass. In many websites, you may find four or six categories, but we think three is the ideal.
✤ Small-Bowled Glass for White Wine
We call ‘bowl’ where the wine sits in a wine glass. You can serve light-bodied white wine such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc in an in a thinner and comparably taller glass. Because the smaller bowled glass can maintain the cooler temperature, preserve the aromas and gives more aromas due to the closeness of your nose.
You will also notice that some other full-bodied white wines such as oak-aged chardonnay, viognier, older white wines, and some vintage sparkling wine is served in a more extensive bowled wine glass.
✤ Large-Bowled Glass for Red Wine
Large bowled glass usually increases the freshness and fruitiness of the red wine. Also, the larger bowl helps to increase the aromas and let ethanol to dissolve. You will feel great after having red wines in a larger opening. However, we have noticed that some low-bodied red wines such as pinot noir is served in a medium bowled glass.
You can also choose the variation of larger bowl glasses if you know the main critical success factor. If you are going to serve high tannin red wines with high acidity then larger bowled glass with a tall shape goes right. But, if there are high tannin red wines with a higher amount of alcohol then medium-bowled glass with narrow opening fits best. On the other hand, low tannin red wine with low alcohol deserves larger glass with larger openings.
✘ High tannin red wines with high acidity: (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux blends, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Grenache, Rhône Blends, Mencía and Merlot)
✘ High tannin red wine and high alcohol: Syrah (Shiraz), Mourvèdre, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Tannat and Sagrantino
✘ Low Tannin red wine with low alcohol: Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Gamay, Schiava, Freisa, Zweigelt and Valpolicella blend
✤ Specialty Glasses for Sparkling Wine and Dessert Wine
The sparkling wine such as champagne requires tall thin glass in order to give the sparkles a smoother move. Because bowl shape glass can increase the foamy label at the top that most of us do not like while sipping a sparkling wine. Some dessert wine (dry or sweet) requires small size glass with a very small opening. It also helps to reduce the evaporation of alcohol.
How to Swirl Wine | Ultimate wine guide
Many of us do not know why wine needs swirling. In fact, some us believe that swirling is a style thing that is not compulsory at all. But, there is a must know the science of swirling the wine.
Why We Swirl Wine?
Let’s start from the beginning. Why wine has a cork on top? It’s simple so that oxygen does not pass through the bottle.
When a wine bottle is opened up, oxygen helps to release its aromas and taste better. But, too much-oxidised wine becomes unpleased with flat or even bitter taste.
Yes, that’s why we swirl. To release to excess oxygen and protecting it from getting bitter.
Swirling requires obvious techniques so that no dripping happens. Obviously, the mechanism has straight relation with physics. To understand the science, we took help of a research from Cornell University Library.
Steps & Techniques of Wine Swirling
You can try this following two easy steps. Place your finger on the bottom of your glass and then start. Remember, too much wine may cause dripping off. You may try it by using water also.
You can also swirl placing the glass on your table. This technique helps to maintain the speed. Both of the above techniques are known as ‘Tabletop swirl’ and ‘Standing Social Swirl.’
There are some other reasons for WINE FAULTS. Keep Reading.
Common Wine Faults | How to Figure Them Out?
A wine fault is a wine defect that leads to unpleasant wine taste. It arises from poor winemaking process, not maintaining optimal temperature and also for some other reason.
In this article, we will discuss different reasons behind a wine fault and their SAFEGUARDS.
Wine Flaws and Wine Faults | The Difference
Wine faults is a condition when drinking wine is not suggested. These some minor changes in or within the normal wine characteristics. Some good example of wine flaws can be buttery flavour, Brett Aromas, excessive sulphur dioxide and volatile acidity. Generally, wine with some general flaws is safe to drink.
Here are the Wine Faults
Oxidation happens when the percentage of oxygen becomes high in the wine. It happens if you let your wine bottle open for a long time (say overnight), or if you are preserving a wine bottle in a normal refrigerator. Swirling wine can help to release excessive wine while you are drinking a glass of wine for a long time but, over oxidized wine is considered to be a fault that gives you unpleasant or even a bitter taste. Try to preserve your vintage collection in a perfect wine cooler. Our latest article on wine temperature tips can also help you in this regard.
Wine damage also occurs from excessive heat. That is why we talked about the perfect temperature in order to preserve wine. You can easily diagnose whether your wine is over-oxidized. It will become sweet and processed. The smell will encounter deterioration such as mixed with a brown nutty aroma. Heat damage can also pressure the cork out and seal might break. It happens due to the chemical reaction inside.
The obvious question arises here: “CAN I FIX IT?”
The answer is NO. If it happens, you need to take the bottle out. But you can protect your wine collections from encountering such situation. Get the perfect fridge after reading our comprehensive buying guide.
If you already have a cooler but you would like to keep both red and white wine, you need to buy a Dual-zone wine chiller with temperature memory function. It helps to restore the previously set temperature if the power shuts for any reason.
Ultra-Violate Light Damage
Direct sunlight can cause harm your wine. If you place bottles in an unsecured place or near to the window, it becomes faulty. If ultra-violet rays affect the wine, it will taste like a wet sweater. Still, you cannot fix it after the happening of damage. But, you can get a cooler with tinted UV protection glass in order to protect any future damage.
Microbial and Bacterial Infection
There are many live microbes in your wine due to the addition of yeast. If any of them become too forceful then you may feel some awkward aromas. It happens due to inadequate take care during the fermentation process. If it happens anyhow, the wine will not become drinkable.
Those of the above wine fault reasons were understandable from all aspect. Still, some other technical purposes can be a healthy reason for wine fault.
If you have clear knowledge of CHEMISTRY, this article can give you a better understanding.
Wine Guide to FOOD Pairing
Almost everyone except the professionals feels hard to pair wine. To get a better understanding, we have published a separate article on that. Read our Wine and Food pairing guide to clear your mind.