A Beginner’s Guide To Wine
Some say you have to be an expert to appreciate the true value of wine. Indeed, sommeliers spend a lifetime perfecting their craft of wine stewardship. However, they also started as ordinary mortals. You don’t have to be a sommelier to enjoy a good wine or to appreciate the various tasting notes of this popular liquor. You only need to know the basics and work your way from there. All great sommeliers started this way. Sooner or later, you will be the master of wines in your own right. As such, let us start with the 10 most essential wine tips that every novice wine drinker has to observe.
Learn The Different Types Of Wine
Like anything else in this world, wines come in different types. It is best to start your wine-drinking journey by understanding the different types of wine. From this understanding, you can then determine the kind of wine that best suits your tastes and lifestyle.
There are two fundamental categories of wine: red and white. Red wine takes its reddish or darker color from the inclusion of the skin of dark-colored grape varieties. The different shades of red in the wine can also tell you whether you have a young, mature, or vintage wine.
Young wines often have a purplish color while mature wines are the typical reds. Vintage wines that spend years aging often have a deep brownish color. Red wine is highly-valued for the presence of the antioxidant “Resveratrol”. This antioxidant is present in the skin of grapes. Examples of red wine include Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.
White wine doesn’t include grape skin. Winemakers ferment only the flesh of the grapes. This gives white wine less calories and alcohol content compared to red wine. Examples of white wine varieties include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Befriend A Sommelier
The sommelier is your best resource person when it comes to the world of wine. He can be a good friend, too. There are bars and restaurants that have well-respected sommeliers in their employ. You can also try to ask a few questions to help expand your knowledge about this beverage.
Your best bet for finding a good sommelier is the wine shop. They will be more than happy to indulge you in building your knowledge and skills in your wine-drinking journey. You can share with them the characteristics of wine that you would like to taste. From this information, they can provide you with a recommendation that closely matches what you are looking for. You can always fine-tune your search later on.
You can also ask them about wine pairings or wines in the culinary world. There are wines that are a match in heaven with certain foods. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile wine that’s perfect for salads, seafood, and poultry. If you’re into simply-prepared meats, then a Cabernet Sauvignon would be a great pair.
Invest In A Good Wine Glass
There are beverages that you can drink straight from the bottle. This is not the case with wine. This is regardless of what they portray in Hollywood films. Good wine deserves a good wine glass. Unfortunately, different types of wine require different types of vessels.
One of the most important features you need to look for in a wine glass is the shape of the bowl. The bowl allows for air to get into the glass and interact with the wine. In simpler terms, the more air that enters, the more the aroma of the wine that reaches your nose.
If you’re going to drink red wine, a glass with a wide bowl is ideal. This allows for the wine’s bigger and bolder flavors and aromas to emerge. It also improves the aeration of the wine as you down it in your throat.
White wine requires narrow bowls. This is because whites have more delicate aromas and flavors. You don’t want to expose them to too much air as this can eliminate these delicate wine features. The narrower bowl also helps preserve the chill of the white wine.
If you’re into sparkling wine, you’d want to get a tall narrow flute. This will help preserve the beautiful bubbles in your drink. After all, it’s the carbonation that makes this drink “sparkle”.
You can also choose a stemmed wine glass. This is better at maintaining the ideal temperature of your drink. But if you don’t like holding a thin glass stem, you can always opt for a stemless glass.
Invest In Wine Tools And Accessories
A good wine opener is a must. Unlike a bottle of beer that comes with a tin cap, wines almost always come with a cork. As such, it is important that you have a wine opener with a heavy-duty corkscrew. You can pick an electric wine bottle opener or an old-fashioned corkscrew opener. It’s also best if you can get one that has a built-in foil cutter.
A decanter is also a must-have. This is true for aged Bordeaux or vintage port wines. These drinks often form sediments as they age. You don’t want any of these sediments to ruin the wine-drinking experience. That’s why you need a decanter so you can transfer the wine sans its sediments from the bottle.
You may also want a wine preserver. It is quite impossible to consume a full bottle of wine in one sitting. That is why you have to put an effort in preserving its full aromas and flavors. While you can reinsert the cork, a better way is to use a wine preserver. This can help keep the integrity of your wine while still allowing you to enjoy every drop.
If you’re into sparkling wine or champagnes, you may need a champagne stopper. It’s what keeps the carbon dioxide in your drink from getting out of the bottle. The next time you pour a glass or two, you’d still have that bubbly effect.
Learn The Correct Way Of Storing Wines
One of the most important things you have to learn as a beginning wine drinker is a correct way of storing your wine.
First, you have to store it in a cool place. The ideal temperature range for storing wines is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The sweet spot is 55ºF. If the temperature gets hotter than 75º, you risk losing the flavors and aromas of your wine. If the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you can dry out your cork. Air may seep into the cracks in the cork and damage your wine.
Second, wines don’t like the light very much. While vintners will store their wines in colored glass bottles, it is still crucial to store them away from sunlight. Household lighting fixtures should be fine, except that you have to be careful about the type of bulb to use. In general, incandescent light bulbs are safer for wines than fluorescent light fixtures.
Third, keep your humidity levels to within 50 to 80 percent. This should be safe for your wine. The cork will not crack from lack of moisture. You also get to prevent the growth of molds.
Master The Art Of Sniffing, Swirling, And Slurping
Drinking wine is an art. It is very different from beer where you can gulp an entire mug in one go. Wine is an experience that requires the involvement of the various senses.
First is the sniff. As soon as you open a bottle, it is important to smell it. Pour some wine into your glass and sniff. Try to picture in your mind the different aromas that hit your nose. Is it fruity or floral? Do you smell wood or earth? This alone makes for a fascinating experience.
Next is the swirl. Swirling the wine in your glass introduces oxygen into the drink. This softens the wine and releases the aromas that you never knew were there. Again, give it a good sniff while swirling the wine. If you’re perceptive enough, you’ll notice the difference between a swirled wine and an unswirled wine. To help you get a better perception of the wine’s aromas, it’s best to open your mouth while breathing in.
Last is the slurp. Some say you can be as noisy as slurping a bowl of your favorite ramen while others recommend being subtler. A more important action is swishing it in your mouth. Resist the temptation to push it straight into your throat. Let it coat every square inch of your palate, tongue, and the insides of your cheeks. This will give a different sensation altogether. Once filling your senses with the flavors and aromas of the wine, you can push it down your throat.
Take Down Notes
Sommeliers always have tasting notes of different wines. You can also write down your experiences for every glass of wine that you drink. Start with the nose. Write in detail the different aromas that you smelled. Write how you felt while sniffing the wine from your wine glass.
Document the different aromas that bombarded your nose when you swirled the wine. It may surprise you that your description of the wine during this stage is quite different from the unswirled wine. Don’t forget to include the flavors of the wine as it washed the insides of your mouth. Take note also of the flavors and aromas that hit the back of your throat.
Keep these notes as you can always refer to them as you go along in your wine-drinking journey. You can also share it on your social media account and let other wine-drinkers have their say on your experience.
Taste Wine With A Friend
Wines are best enjoyed with a friend or two. There is nothing more pleasant in life than sharing a glass or two of that aged wine you have in your cellar.
You have two choices. You can choose to drink wine with a friend who is in a similar state as you. You can discover the joys of wine-drinking together. It is also possible to exchange notes so you’ll be building on your own understanding of wines.
The alternative is to share your wine-drinking experience with someone who may be on a different level. In such cases, you risk building your understanding of wines from the experiences of this individual.
Read And Understand What The Label Says
Wines come from grapes. The issue here is that different countries produce their own grapes that go into their respective wines. While two different brands of wine may have the same exact species of grape in their wine, they may be different in aromas and flavors. This is because the characteristics of wines are tied to the characteristics of the land where grapes are grown.
Reading the label of the wine should give you an idea of what you are drinking. Many vintners put the species or varieties of grapes that they use in their wines. Some may also include the name of the village that grows these grapes. For example, the Brunello di Montalcino Italian wine comes from the vineyards of Montalcino near Florence, Italy.
Get Your Wine From The Source
You can purchase wine from almost anywhere. You can buy them online, from your favorite wine shop, or the grocery store. The issue here is that you will be paying more for the price of a bottle since these entities will also have to think about their profit.
It is a lot better to buy your wine straight from vineyards themselves. You can get in touch with either a representative of these vineyards or their respective wine clubs. You’ll have the best deal for every bottle of wine you purchase. Moreover, you get to learn more about the wine that you will be drinking.
You don’t need to become a wine expert to enjoy wine. You only need to understand the basics. Mastering these essential wine tips can help you in your wine-drinking journey.
- 10 Tips for Beginning Wine Drinkers, Edible
- 4 Wine Tips for Novice Tasters, Creative Live
- Ten Wine Tips for Beginners, WineMag