Beginners Guide – How to drink wine

This beginner’s guide on how to drink wine understands you can correctly open a bottle. Its aim is to develop your wine drinking experience by outlining basic wine types while providing you with simple options for pairing different types of wine with food. This guide won’t make you a sommelier, but it will help you start your journey to becoming an articulate wine lover.

Types of wine

Wine grapes used for alcohol are very different from table grapes that we like to eat. Wine grapes are smaller, sweeter, contain seeds, and have thick skins in comparison to those used for grape juice.

There are five main types of wine grape varieties sold commercially around the world, all with different idiosyncrasies, growing conditions, and levels of popularity.

1. Red wine

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Red wines are those made with a dark color or black grapes but can vary from a light berry type color through to an intense, plummy purple in the bottle. Red wines are some of the world’s most popular, both for everyday drinking or for serious collectors of great wine.

Drinking red wine each day (1-2 modest glasses) can contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. Red wine is strong in antioxidants and doesn’t suppress your immune system like other types of alcohol. The more tannins (see below) and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening, around five days max with a cork or slightly longer with a screw cap lid.

See more about  The 10 best American red wines to try in 2021

2. White wine

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White wine is fermented without skin contact, most from white or green grapes, with a color profile ranging from straw-yellow, yellow-green, or bright yellow-gold colors in the bottle. White wine flavor runs the gamut of dry and light through to rich and sweet, with most varieties being more popular when served chilled.

Popular white wine varieties include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, and pinot gris/pinot grigio. White wines can last up to a week in the fridge but will lose a bit of brightness and character over time.

See more about  The 10 best American white wines to try in 2021

3. Sparkling wine

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The style used to produce sparkling wine involves a secondary fermentation that makes bubbles. Sparkling wine can be red, white, or rosé wine and the taste/flavor profile ranges from dry wine to rich and sweet.

Champagne, which by law can only be grown in the French region of the same name, is the best known producer of sparkling wine, however, the market for quality bottles has expanded to include Australia, the US, South Africa, and Argentina.

I come from a family that firmly believes if the wine has bubbles in it, then you’re bound to have a great get together. The perfect wine as a precursor to your sit down that offers versatility with a flair for every household looking to create a convivial atmosphere.

4. Rosé wine

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Rosé is produced by removing the skins from grapes before they taint the wine deep red, or by the blending of different white and red wines. Both dry and sweet wine rosé are popular (my friend Amy calls rosé lunchtime wine because it’s light and easy to drink, and her description is bang on). Rosé can last up to a week in the fridge but will lose a bit of the wine’s aroma, vibrancy, and flavor the longer it’s stored.

5. Dessert wine

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Dessert wines taste sweet and are always meant for post-dinner, but heavier fortified wines such as port and sherry can be included here.

As a super sweet wine with a heavy fruit base (similar to brandy in many ways), the popular Moscato is perfect for desserts or as an aperitif, while the sparkling wine version is well suited to appetizers and finger food.

The importance of tannins

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Tannins are the bitter compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes that deter animals from eating them. They also come from within the wood in the barrels that wine is fermented in.

When making wine, the depth of tannin is integral to the flavor and mouthfeel. They create the drying sensation in your mouth when drinking red wine. While tannins are found in white wine they are most often associated with red wine.

Generally speaking, fine tannin wines are richer and smoother for your taste buds, while rougher tannins are responsible for a more bitter, robust tasting wine.

Matching wine with steak

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There are some simple concepts to explore for you when choosing the perfect steak for your budget with a bottle of wine to match. Red wine is the go-to option for pairing with grilled steak, but you can drink rosé or some white wines as well (I recommend sauvignon blanc or a woody chardonnay).

As outlined above, tannins are essential to building the right flavor and mouthfeel corresponding to your meal. It’s also important to know about the various cuts of steak and which ones are best for amplifying the taste experience.

Below is the quick-read version of the best wine and steak combinations broken down by the cut of meat and varietal type. For more in-depth analysis and suggestions, click on the link below to take your pairing knowledge to the next level!

See more about  The best wine to pair with steak

Ribeye and filet

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Zinfandel
  • Pinot Noir

Wagyu

  • Shiraz/Syrah
  • Merlot
  • Zinfandel

New York strip, porterhouse, and sirloin

  • Malbec
  • Bordeaux
  • Shiraz/Syrah
  • Pinot Noir

In general (and if you are really stuck for choice) the most versatile red wines are cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, they’ll work with most red meat options but can also be used for white meats and seafood as well.

Wine pairing for white meat and seafood

While red wine still has a large following for the wine enthusiast matching with white meats and different seafood options – which tends to offer more subtle, delicate flavors – they do give white wines a chance to shine in complement to a great meal.

1. Reds

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The most recognizable red wine options – syrah, merlot, and cab sav – may pair well with white meat, however, the heavier tannins and robust flavors need to be tamped down somewhat for a better overall table wine pairing.

I recommend going for older bottles that have had time to soften and grow more rounded with maturity. Of the three types, merlot offers the wine drinker a fruitier sweetness and syrah more power, while the richest is cabernet sauvignon.

If you are looking for lighter-bodied red wines to enjoy with seafood and white meat then pinot noir, zinfandel, Beaujolais, and burgundy wines all work nicely to complement more subtle, succulent flavors.

2. Chardonnay

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While not a left-field choice of wine, a good chardonnay offers certainty with wine pairing and allows you the opportunity to focus on food. The domestic American white wine market is dominated by chardonnay grapes, mostly those grown in the Napa Valley and Central California. The tremendous varieties range from dry white wine to semi-sweet versions of chardonnay, at price points under $10 through to expensive bottles worth hundreds of dollars.

3. Riesling

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Dry Riesling is a great palate cleansing and taste option when crisply chilled. It helps the flavor of any turkey or chicken dish and refreshes for your next forkful of food.

4. Viognier

Viognier Wine for White Meat

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A classic match for the succulent bird, the fruit flavor of viognier offers a great counterpoint to the white meat’s tenderness, especially the notes of stone fruits and honey.

5. Sauvignon blanc

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Sauvignon blanc is an amazingly layered, rich white wine that falls almost perfectly between dry and sweet.

6. Pinot gris

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The pinot gris (also known as pinot grigio) grape is a particularly strong varietal that features the boldness, acidity, and structure that is the best of this type of grape.

See more about  What wine goes with turkey? Christmas & Thanksgiving wine pairing guide

Glassware

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In contemporary wine culture, you can go in many different wine glass directions. How the wine is aerated, how you can appreciate the aroma, the weight, comfort, and durability of the vessel are all important to the experience, especially when you’re hosting a dinner party or are the wine drinker paying a hefty price tag for a bottle of exclusive French wine.

In recent years my opinion has changed dramatically when it comes to enjoying the entire process of drinking wine. I like versatility, but I also like a stemless or big red wine glass. Some of my friends prefer using specific glassware for a specific purpose, such as a Champagne flute for sparkling and sweet wine versus a smaller white wine glass for a crisp dry wine.

The link below takes you through an in-depth look at great wine glasses that will help you figure out what the right choice is for your home bar. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that your glass has a hole in the top, but not the bottom!

See more about  The 10 best wine glasses for your next dinner party

General tips for novice wine drinkers

  • Trying to match your wine with food is a lot of fun, but not the be-all and end-all for your wallet or taste buds. Make sure you can enjoy wine drinking both individually and/or together with food and don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Take notes and snap pics when you are wine tasting. Think about what you like and why you like it – from the wine’s aroma and color through to its taste – then try to find more while building your information base.
  • Look at your wine bottle labels closely. They provide you a LOT of information to build knowledge and learn, especially with great wines coming from all over the world.
  • Price is not the most important factor for finding good wine, you have to be able to enjoy it and know why you like a certain variety. Look for what is valuable to you as a wine enthusiast and aim for it when you taste and try options.
  • If you want to be serious about your wine, take your research seriously. If you want to have fun, find some friends and have fun challenging each other to find the best-tasting wine bottle or tour a winemaker.
  • If you really like a wine, buy another bottle (or two) and start a collection, and always have a ready go-to great wine for dinners or spur-of-the-moment social occasions that help you look like a wine expert.
  • Get good equipment. Whether it’s your bottle opener, aerator, vacuum stoppers, or even a wine fridge/cellar – a better kit equals a better experience for every level of wine lover.

Article courtesy of NetLuxury

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