Beginners Guide to Drinking Wine

What is wine? If you have no idea about it, this eBook will serve as a guide on how to kick start your competency in this subject and on drinking it. Actually, you should know about beverage or wine whether you have the liking of it or not. In this guide, it will influence the way that you taste your wine.

Chapter 1: Understanding Wine

Tanzania is a place that is known for beer lovers. Nevertheless, there are still drinkers who love to drink wine. Actually, wine is considered to be more sophisticated than alcohol. Therefore, it is essential to learn more about it as it is believed to be the “rite of passage” into the stage of adulthood.

Understanding Wine

While there are many adults who are keen to drink wine, their ideas about beyond white versus red or dry versus sweet. It should be understood that there are many variations that must be studied when it comes to drinking wine. Thus, becoming an expert wine drinker demands some sort of education.

Now, what do you think is wine? Actually, it is a drink which is consisted of special grapes featuring their thicker skin. They are a lot sweeter as compared to the ordinary grapes that can be found in most grocery stores. There are lots of wine grapes that grow in various regions and areas of the world. This is something that differentiates one wine from another.  For instance, a Malbec is very different from a Merlot due to the very reason that they come from different types.

With almost hundreds to thousands types of wine grapes, it can really be difficult to know all of those types. You could still get a complete understanding of the common wines and the ways to further differentiate them.

Chapter 2: Wine and its Characteristics

Before you delve deeper into the various types of wine, it is essential to first understand the terms used to describe wine. By doing this, you will get an understanding of wine descriptions and bottles. You will also truly express the taste of wine that you like best. This is also especially when it comes to buying wine from a shop or ordering a glass from a restaurant.

Blend versus a Single Variety

In regard with whisky, it can actually be blended or just be a single malt. Remember as ell that wine exists in 2 basic categories; blended (made from different types of grapes) and variety (made from a sole type of grape).

White Wine versus Red Wine

The main difference between white and red wine is the color. In addition, there are still factors that contribute much to their distinction. Actually, they come from different grapes and they go through a different process of making wine. With white wine, the grapes are usually pressed while the juice is fermented. With red wine, the grape stem and skin are fermented. This is actually the very reason why red wine is darker, richer and fuller than the white wine.

Sweet Wine versus Dry Wine

 The term sweet wines or dry wines usually refer to the quantity of sugar found in wine. It can be considered a dry wine if the sugar of the grape is turned into alcohol throughout the fermentation process. The sweet wine, however, still has sugar content in it. It is just that the amount of sugar usually varies. This is another reason why some wines are semi-dry and semi-sweet.

Acidity: Wine and its Freshness

Wine and its acidity are mainly responsible for the sour, fresh and citrus taste. Nevertheless, do not confuse acidity for its bitterness. Just think of the taste that is the same to oranges and lemons. As per its acidity, it relies much on the wine flavors like bitterness and sweetness. White wines are actually more acidic because they have no more tannin flavor as compared to various types of red wine.

Chapter 3: Types Of Wine

Types Of Wine

Below is the complete list of common wine types that you should be most aware of. This way, you will already be geared with an idea of each of them.

Syrah

This is mainly popular in the place of Tanzania. Even though this is usually imported from the South Africa, the grape used to create this wine is planted in France and in Australia. This also has its meaty and fruity flavor.

Cabernet Sauvignon

This is considered to be a full-bodied red wine with its sharp and bold flavor. This is also regarded as the most popular among wines around the world.

Prosecco

This sparkling white wine from Italy is favored around the world for it’s light taste and easy drinkability.  Prosecco has been around for a very long time and while some might think it’s champagne, it’s not. 

Zinfandel

This is fruity in its flavor but this is not as heavy as the full-bodied wines mentioned above.

Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir varietal is a dry red wine. This is a dry, light-bodied and highly acidic. The acidity usually comes from the fruity notes of cherry and cranberry.

Pinotage

This is known as the famous wine in South Africa. This is like a denser and smokier version of Shiraz.

Sauvignon Blanc

This is a white and dry grape that is known in France. This is just great for its citrus and light flavor that is the same as a grapefruit and sour orange. Sauvignon Blanc is a great summer wine and goes very well with white meat, cheeses and pasta. 

Chardonnay

This is a white wine that promises its spicy, woody and whisky flavor. This can be paired with a chicken, shellfish, cream sauces and soft cheeses.  Chardonnay can also have a buttery flavor and is great as a chilled summer drink. 

Riesling 

This wine is very dependent on the style or process of making wine. This can also be quite tart and acidic, or even dry. The grape gives its sweet and floral taste.

Moscato

This is a fruit and sweet wine that is made from the grape, Muscat Blanc. This is actually found in most places around the world like Portugal, Brazil and Italy. Due to the sweetness of Moscato, it just has its lower levels of alcohol. This is the main reason why people drink it in excess amount and still, not intoxicated.

Malbec

Malbec wine is a deep red wine with violet hues, originating from the Cahors region in southwest France. It is made from the Malbec grape, which is a member of the Vitaceae family. The grape is believed to have originated in the area now known as Turkey or Armenia. Malbec wines are known for their full-bodiedness, high tannin content, and plum flavors.

Chapter 4: How to Best Experience a Glass of Wine, Serve and Store It

Even if you could not consider yourself as a wine connoisseur, it is still possible for you to enjoy a sip of wine just by following a few simple steps. Firstly, you need to ensure that you are not in a place or area where sounds and aromas will distract you. When you pour it into your glass, kindly observe its colors and hold it directly to your light source while you tilt it.

Then, swirl it as much as possible. This is quite easy for you to do when the glass is 1/3 full. When you swirl it, it simply churns the liquid while it travels. This now allows it further to draw the oxygen that comes from the air. And thus, this intensifies the smell that is coming from the wine. Never bury it in your nose but sniff it. Take a short sniff which will allow you to enjoy its aroma. You have to sip it but you must never gulp it down. Experience its aroma and its flavor.

Now, when it comes to storing and serving wine, it is actually common to see wines with bottle caps or corks. Thus, you must store wines sideways. Store them up in a dry and cool place before opening the bottles.

Never ever keep an opened wine over a week inside the refrigerator. Actually, red wine is being served at twelve to eighteen degrees centigrade. White wine is also kept at eight to twelve degrees while dessert and sparkling wines are served at five to seven degrees centigrade.

Chapter 5: Choosing the Glassware

In drinking wine, always remember that choosing glassware to use varies on the type of wine to drink. Red wine glasses actually have a bigger bowl and these are relatively taller. The purpose of using these glasses is that these allow aromas and flavors to emerge. There are actually 6 types of wine glasses for light bodied and full bodied red wines, sparkling wines, white wines and sweet wine. Make an effort to buy all these glasses that will help you serve wine.

Chapter 5 Choosing the Glassware

What exactly is the Right Type of Glasses for you?

As mentioned, there are various types of wine glasses that can be purchased on the market. Now, what do you really have to buy? Discover the glassware that complements your habits of drinking wine. Discover the best options to have a wine glass set.

  • Standard
  • Flute
  • Tulip
  • Coupe
  • Hock
  • Tumbler

Sparkling Wine

  • Tulip
  • Flute
  • Vintage

Miscellaneous

  • Alsace
  • Tumbler
  • Hock

The Difference between Glass Stemware and Crystal

Crystal is actually a glass that has its monoxide. It also mainly depends on the country that one lives in. The percentage usually varies from one percent to thirty percent. There are glassware manufacturers that make crystal glassware with magnesium oxide and zinc. A lead-free and leaded crystal for wine glass is known for two significant reasons; firstly, minerals cause the wine glass to refract the light and give it a sparkle and secondly, the minerals included in glass makes are sturdy enough.

As per the regular glass, it does not exactly shine just like the crystal. Nevertheless, it is affordable and is even more durable.

Two Wine Glass Styles are needed to Begin With

If you want to start drinking wine, you just have to keep it very simple. Choose for a set of six red wine glasses and a set of four to six white wine glasses and Champagne flutes.

Chapter 6: Reading the Label

You must understand that wine labels actually have a lot of information. It is therefore essential to understand what is exactly in the bottle. Here is a guide on how to spot a bargain, how to know what really matters and what to really ignore.

In this regard, there are two styles of wine labels that can be found in shops. A wine is identified by appellation credentials and by brand name. The latter indicates what grape it is exactly made of. In regard with the appellation credentials, it also depends on the quality level of the appellation, including the regulations and rules. A good example of it is the Chablis: Nowhere on Chablis label.

Reading the label of wine does not tell you how it tastes. Nevertheless, it helps you to have a better and clearer picture of the wines that you buy.

Five Basic Parts of a Wine Label

  1. “Name or Producer”

The name or producer is actually found in a small text or at the bottom or upper part of the label.  This could be found in many wine labels of French wines.

  1. “Region”

It is actually the region that indicates the place where grapes are sourced out. Wines that come from more vague and larger region are more valued while wines from vineyard site indicate a higher quality designation.

Wines from vineyard site usually indicate quotations like “Les Suchots”. When you find the sources to a particular site, the level of quality will become more refined and the price will be increased.

  1. “Non-Vintage or Vintage”

Vintage is the year where grapes are picked or harvested. This will tell you more about wine and if you really are familiar with variations. MV or multi-vintage wines are of lower value. This is due to the very reason that they have the convenience of pulling wine from different vintages. Thus, this controls the flavor.

  1. “Alcohol by Volume”

The level of alcohol actually talks more about a wine. There are European regions that permit the quality wines to have 13.5 percent ABV and more. In fact, in America, it can reach up as high as seventeen percent on dry wines. The level of alcohol also indicates just how big or rich the taste of wine. There are alcohol wines that are manufactured from ripe grapes. They also have more flavors and more fruit.

  1. Appellation or Variety

This actually refers to grapes used in the process of making wine. There are blends that do not reveal the content or percent of grapes that make the whole. If there will be no varietal provided, you could just take a closer look at the Appellation. This will give you a hint on the varietals that were used according on the rules that govern the region. Actually, there are fifteen nations that come with regulated appellations. The strict rules and the things that matter still differ among them.

Other Significant Information about a Wine Label

Reserve

The word reserve may sound fancy but never consider it as anything official. There are actually no rules to a reserve wine. This word actually does not mean anything at all.

Contains Sulfites

This is actually a requirement in a label of wine in all domestic and imported wines in the U.S. Most of the grapes contain sulfites coming from the vineyard.

Vielles Vins or Old Vines

The term old vines refer to a more concentrated flavor. Producers actually make use of it in indicating the style of wine that they produce. The vines usually range from fifteen to one-hundred fifteen years that tag the term on labels.

Estate Bottled Wine

Estate bottled wine actually means to say that it is grown, bottled and produced in the estate wine. There are also wine producers like Georges Deobueof that purchase both wines and grapes from different locations. They also bottle them all together. As per these wines, these are really of lower quality. These are produced and grown on the estate where they actually come from. The estate bottled comes from different countries like Spain, France, Germany and Italy.

Chapter 7: Identifying Common Wine Faults

In this chapter, you can learn some wine tips and tricks that will help you become an expert on everything about wine. Wine faults can ruin wines and that makes it important that you are aware of the common wine faults that could shorten or alter its growth.

These wine faults are caused by a number of factors but with modern winemaking techniques, such faults rarely happen anymore. Still, learning of these wine faults and being able to identify them important.

  1. Heat Damage

This happens when the wine is exposed to too much heat. The first sign that the wine is damaged by extreme heat exposure is the sort of sweet but processed smell. When damaged by too much heat, the wine should have a mixture of smell of a nutty, roasted brown sugar.

The damage can also be accompanied with oxidation since the heat also compromises the bottle’s seal. To prevent this from happening, it’s important that there’s consistent temperature in the storage. Also, be mindful of how hot the summer and don’t store your wine in the attic.

  1. UV Radiation Damage

UV radiation damage is caused when the wine is exposed to too much radiation, especially UV. This often happens when the wine is stored in near the window or any place near the sun. This type of wine faults often happens to delicate white wines such as Pinot Grigio and Champagne.

You can tell that the wine is UV damaged when it tastes like wet sweater. You cannot fix this type of fault. However, if you are smart enough you should know not to store your wine in direct sunlight. On that note, when you’ve got white wine you should put in the darkest corner of your storage.

  1. Secondary Fermentation

If you see tiny bubbles in your wine when there shouldn’t have been, then that means it could have second fermentation. This wine fault typically happens when you accidentally bottled your wine with a bit of residual sugar and then re-ferment it.

The bubbles and the psssst sound when you open a bottle of wine is enough sign that it had fermented. Aside from that, the wine also has a zippy flavor. One thing to remember is that not all secondary fermentation is accidental. There are some wines that are actually fermented again to add a little kick to them.

  1. Oxidized Wine

When the wine is exposed to too much oxygen, the wine becomes oxidized. Oxidation in wine is one of the most common wine faults, especially in older wines. This is the same as what happens when you leave an apple and it turns brown. When wines are oxidized, their color and flavor is lost.

Compared to red wines, white wines are more susceptible to oxidation. This is because red wines have higher levels of tannin which acts as buffer. You cannot fix an oxidized wine but you can use a wine preserving tool to prolong the wine’s shelf life.

  1. Sulfur Compounds

The issue of sulfur as a wine fault is a little complicated. This is because some sulfur such as sulfur dioxide is actually added to stabilize a wine. A type of sulfur, the dihydrogen sulfidd is a byproduct that naturally occurs after a fermentation that’s not ideally healthy.

But the amounts of sulfur in a wine aren’t actually bad for you. The only problem is that the presence of sulfur results to some unwanted aromas. Mercaptin, one of the most frequent manifestations of sulfur in wine produces a smell like rotten egg, skunk or fart which is really aggressive.

  1. Microbial and Bacterial Contamination

There are many microbes and bacteria that can live in a wine. Microbial and bacterial contamination happens when one of the colonies of these microbes becomes aggressive before or after alcoholic fermentation. This could actually add some complexity to the wine but if it’s too aggressive then it becomes a fault.

With so many bacteria involved in making wines, it’s not easy to find the fault. Every one of these bacteria imparts some kind of flavor to the wine but when too much, they can make the wine become uninteresting. Sometimes, the flavors can actually be pretty gross. The thing about this type of wine fault, when the wine is already contaminated then there’s no way to fix it. 

Chapter 8: Foods that Don’t Pair with Wine

If you are looking to become an expert in everything about wine, you probably know that red wine and chocolate don’t match. Some of you might think that that’s not fair but it is true. When it comes to wine, there are just some foods that make it taste bad.

This isn’t some illogical claims. Once you’ve tried pairing wine with foods they don’t pair, you will see the difference that correctly pairing the right food with wine. On that note, here are some of the foods that are really unmatchable to wine.

First of all, what does perfect pairing and terrible pairing in wine means? Well, perfect pairing is when you combined two ingredients and the result is better taste and more balanced flavor compared to how they would be on their own.

As for terrible pairing, this happens when you combined wine with a food and the result is imbalance in flavor. The imbalanced flavor often hangs on your plated while extreme cases would result to you throwing up.

  1. Chocolate

Why isn’t chocolate compatible with wine? When you taste chocolate, sensations like sweetness, fattiness and earthy flavor is left to your palate. Then when you drink dry wine after this, what happens is the wine scrapes the sweetness and fattiness leaving harsh tannins and the wine’s sour note.

What’s worse, drinking wine after chocolate ends with the wine’s cherry or blackberry flavor lost because it’s overpowered by chocolate’s flavor. But don’t worry as there are wines that pair with chocolate like the sweet red wine.

  1. Asparagus

When you pair asparagus with whine, the sulfur flavors causes problems that result to it being terrible pairs. At the same time, there is the added herbaceous quality to the wine because of asparagus’ heightened chlorophyll.

There are some green vegetables that can pair well enough with white wine, however, in the case of asparagus it might not even work. A great wine pair with asparagus is a chilled dry Cherry. With this pairing, the wine can add some subtle nutty flavors to the asparagus dish.

  1. Sushi

Sushi’s mix of raw fish, sesame and seaweeds is quite a difficult to pair with the most common wines. In a study about why fish and red wines are not a good match, it’s been found that the small amounts of iron found in red wine latches on the fish oils.

This sticks to the palate leaving an aftertaste that’s fishy and metallic. A bone dry white wine is one of the types of wines that pair well with sushi. Some examples include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Brut Nature Champagne.

  1. Blue Cheese

Most cheeses are a good pair to most wines. However, blue cheese and blue-veined cheeses are quite hard to pair. The reason is most probably because blue cheese has high presence of alkan-2-ones, an odiferous aroma compound.

This compound is what causes the stinky perfume smell of blue cheese which easily overpowers the flavor or most dry wines. In order to counter the balance of blue cheese, you need an equally powerful and sweet wine. On that note, Port Wine is one of the best wines to pair with blue cheese.

  1. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce’s flavor is a result of the fermentation of salt, wheat and soy beans. The challenge in pairing wine with soy sauce is from the sour taste of soy and the little sourness of wine. With this combination, what results is the wine tasting a bit flabby.

But soy sauce isn’t such a bad pair to wines. In some cases, the soy sauce’s saltiness can actually reduce the bitterness of tannin in other wines. When pairing soy sauce with wines, you can either go on the direction of complementary or congruent.

That is, you can match the soy sauce with wine like Moscato to create a salty-sweet pairing. On the other hand, you can try the congruent method by pairing it with Umami wines which makes the wine more fruit forward in taste.

Chapter 9: Old World vs. New World Wine

You’ve heard the terms old world and new world wines but you’re not quite sure these terms mean. In this chapter, you can learn the different between an Old World Wine and New World Wine and what significance does these two have.

Old World Wine

When it says Old World Wine, this refers to wines that are from regions or countries where wine making originate. Examples of Old World Wine countries are Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Germany and Greece. These countries have been making wines for thousands of years now. Countries such as Armenia, Turkey, Moldova and Georgia are considered Old World Wine regions too.

New World Wines

The terms New World Wines refers to countries such as United States, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and South Africa, countries where winemaking were exported during and after the time of exploration. Other New World Wine regions include China, Japan and India.

Differences between Old World and New World Wine

Old World and New World wines taste different from each other. The difference in the taste results from the winemaking practices and tradition in that particular region or country. Additionally, the land and climate where the grapes where grown also affects the taste of the wine.

Old World wines are described to have less alcohol and taste a bit lighter. Also, Old World wines have higher acidity and tastes less fruity compared to New World wines. New World wines, on the other hand, sport a taste that’s riper, less acidic, more fruity and with higher alcohol content.

Conclusion

Wines are intriguing beverages. The idea that it taste better the more time that passed is just fascinating. With that, it is not surprising how so many people become enthralled in learning and becoming expert on anything about wine. People don’t only drink wine but it has even become a lifestyle and livelihood to a lot of people.

In this eBook, we hope that you can learn basic information about wines that can help in your dreams of becoming a prolific wine taster. Of course, there are still a lot of things that you need to know and master when it comes to wine, but this eBook here will help you take the first step. With this, we hope that you can take the crucial step in becoming the expert that you are dream of.