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WINE 101: An Ultimate Wine Guide For Beginners

“There is no right way or wrong way of tasting wine. It is as simple as — whether you will like it or you dislike it.”

 

Learning wine can be a daunting process because of the profound history and rich heritage. But this wine vacation guide will make it all simpler for you. Trust me; to know the fundamentals of wine, its style, type, and taste - you don’t need to be a sommelier. It is not important to know the technical terms and in-depth information about wine to become a wine expert. All you need to have is some curiosity and desire to discover a new taste. 

 

If you are into wine but don’t know much about it, then this beginner’s wine vacation guide is for you! Through this wine vacation guide, I will introduce you to the basics of wine. Here I have put together some vital information that will navigate you to the complex world of wine. Review this wine vacation guide, and it will pave the way for you to become a wine expert. I am excited to share my learnings and experience with you.

 

Let’s get started!

 

Table Of Content:

 

1. Learn The Basics Of Wine

2. Different Types Of Wine

3. Secrets of Choosing Great Wine

4. How Can You Store and Handle Wine?

5. Learn How To Develop Your Sense Of Taste In Wine

 

We are here to provide you with an overview of important wine information that you need to focus on. Consider this beginner’s wine vacation guide as a map for your wine journey. Start with this basic wine vacation guide, and slowly you will develop your interest and palates for wine.

 

Although I am not a wine expert, I just have sufficient knowledge and experience of this drink that I love to share with you. 

 

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy learning. This is the ultimate WINE 101- beginner’s wine vacation guide. 

 

Learn The Basics Of Wine

 

 

We will commence our beginner’s wine vacation guide with a few basics like what wine is, how it is prepared, etc. Read on...

 

Wine is an alcoholic beverage that is prepared with fermented grapes. Although any fruit can be used for the drink, only the one that is prepared with grapes is labeled as “WINE.” The grapes that producers use in preparing wine are different from the table grapes. Wine grapes are usually smaller in size, sweeter, contain lots of seeds, and have thick skin. 

 

To produce the wine, the juice is taken out from the grapes and exposed to the yeast until it ferments. Once done, the fermented juice gets turned into wine. Do you know one fun fact about this drink -  wine can only be produced once a year? Well, the grapes that wineries use for making wine take one whole season to ripen because of which wine can only be produced one time in a year. This is the reason why wines are called VINTAGE. The term vintage - “Vint” means wine, and “age” refers to the time of year it takes to be made. Now, you must be wondering -  if it takes one whole year, then what is the harvest season? The harvest season for winemaking differs with the hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, the season is from August to September, while, in the southern hemisphere, it is from February to April. This is the time when wine lovers travel to different wine regions and enjoy the process of winemaking along with savoring a few delicious glasses of wine. 

 

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Different Types Of Wine

 

 

Next, we will make you learn about different types of wine in this beginner’s wine vacation guide. It will expand your knowledge about the drink. 

 

Irrespective of the fact that all the wines are produced with grapes, there is not just one kind of wine. There are over a thousand (nearly 1,300) different types of wine that you can find in the market. Some of the wines are named after the grape that they are made from. While others got the name from the region, they originated. Wines can be categorized on various factors like aroma, taste, sweetness, acidic nature, and more. 

 

With so many options, it is impossible to state all. Hence, I have picked some of the most common types on this wine vacation guide. 

 

RED WINE

 

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Merlot

3. Pinot Noir

4. Gamay

5. Syrah

6. Monastrell

7. Grenache

8. Schiava

9. Cabernet Franc

10.Carignan

11.The Bordeaux Blend

12.Zinfandel

13.Carménère

14.Malbec

15.Pinotage

 

WHITE WINE

 

1. Chardonnay

2. Sauvignon Blanc

3. Verdejo

4. Pinot Gris

5. Soave

6. Viognier

7. Riesling

8. Grüner Veltliner

9. Sémillon

10.Moscato

11.Gewürztraminer

12.Chenin Blanc

13.Albariño

14.Vermentino

15.Melon

 

OTHER KINDS OF WINE

 

1. Rosé Wine

2. Sparkling Wine

3. Burgundy Wine

4. Dessert Wine

5. Bordeaux Wine

6. Champagne

 

General Terms To Talk About Wine

 

 

If you are entering the world of wine as a beginner, you might not be familiar with the terms that people use to describe the wine. There are many words and phrases that you must know if you also want to sound like a wine expert. Here in this beginners wine vacation guide, we are going to make you aware of them. Have a look:

 

1. Sweet: This term is generally used for dessert wines or wines that are sweet. During the fermentation process, some sugar gets left, which offers it a remarkable sweetness.

 

2. Dry: The name is quite self-explanatory. People use this term for the wines that are opposite of Sweet wines. Drinking such wines, you will feel dryness and tingling sensations on your tongue. These are the wines without sweetness. 

 

3. Body: The term “Body” refers to the weight of wine that the drinker feels in his/her mouth. Together with this, it is used to describe the prominence of flavors in wine. There are two types: light-bodied wines that feel lighter and easy-going, while full-bodied wines feel heavy and complex.

 

4. Tart: This term is used for wines that have high concentrations of acidity. 

 

5. Old World: Wine connoisseurs describe the wine of traditional and historic wine regions as Old-world wines. However, all the other wines that are not old-world wines are called new-world wines. 

 

6. Oak: The term “Oak” is being used for describing the wines that are kept for aging in oak barrels. This leaves an oaky aroma to the wine, which is quite unique and tastes delicious. 

 

7. Acidity: Another most commonly used term for describing the wine is “Acidity.” Just like fruits are acidic, wines are acidic too. The range of acidity in wine usually lies between 2.5-4.5. This makes the wine taste more crisp, tart, and fresh. 

 

8. Tannin: Tannin is available on the skin of grapes, which offers the wine a bitter taste. This is usually present in red wines as compared to white wines. 

 

Secrets of Choosing Great Wine

 

 

This is a fun and exciting section of a beginner's wine vacation guide. Here, you will get to know some secrets that will help you choose excellent wines at a great value. Read and find out...

 

Wine is much more than a mere alcoholic beverage. It is a lifestyle, gastronomical experience, a study of agriculture, a method of exploring culture, exploration of history, and art in a glass. With a lot of variety available, choosing the best is quite a difficult task. The wine marketplace is large and keeps on changing. As of now, more than 100,000 wine labels get registered every year. Due to the vastness of choice, picking the one you like requires a lot of knowledge. This is where this beginners wine vacation guide comes in. Once you are aware of the wine, its types, terms, aromas, and some tactics, you can easily pick the best one for you. 

 

To make the right choice, the first and foremost thing to do is - to ask yourself a few questions. When you answer these questions, you will get to know about your preferences in Wine. Answering these questions, wine lovers travel to different places and enjoy their favorite glass of wine. Take a look at the questions below:

 

1. What do I like the most - sweet or dry wine?

 

2. Do I prefer to have rich fruity flavors or subtle-light flavors?

 

3. What do I want to enjoy - a smooth wine or wine that has tart?

 

4. What my wine likings are- full-bodied or light-bodied?

 

5. What kind of aromas or flavor notes do I like?

 

Once you are done answering, you will understand what kind of wine you prefer. After knowing the palate, a smart wine shopper is required to know about 3 things for choosing great wine - undervalued wine regions, undervalued grapes, and highly productive vintages. Knowing these will help you know where to look for some fantastic wines at a great price.

 

1. UNDERVALUED WINE REGION:

 

There are ample wine regions that are well-traveled and offer some of the most exotic wines. However, for some amazing wine values, it is important that wine lovers travel to unbeatable paths that produce stupendous, bold, and lush wines. Some lesser-known wine regions that people are not aware of are given below. Make sure you keep this beginner’s wine vacation guide handy and uncover the places that you might not know about. 

 

- Puglia, Italy

- Douro Valley, Portugal

- Lodi, California

- Mendocino, CA

- Sicily, Italy

- Yecla and Alicante, Spain

- Columbia Valley, Washington

- Roussillon, France

- Patagonia, Argentina

 

2. UNDERVALUED GRAPES:

 

Another secret that most wine lovers don’t know about is - some undervalued grapes offer great taste but at a better value. The usage of popular grapes makes the wine expensive. This is why wine lovers travel and explore some grape varieties that are not that renowned. Believe me, the wine from such grapes is not just great in taste but is available at prices that are hard to beat. Some of such rare grape varieties are given below in this wine vacation guide.

 

- Red Grapes (Montepulciano, Touriga Nacional, Bonarda, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan, Pinotage, etc.)

 

- White Grapes (Vermentino, Assyrtiko, Grenache Blanc, Garganega, Marsanne, Chenin Blanc, Grillo, and more.)

 

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3. HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE VINTAGE:

 

You don’t need to study the vintage for great value wines by going too deep into it. All you need is to keep an eye on and check if there is any record-breaking harvest. If so, you can guarantee that the surfeit of wine will hit the market, and you will get it at a good value.

 

Learn How To Develop Your Sense Of Taste In Wine

 

 

This is one of the most important sections of this beginner’s wine vacation guide. Most of us like to have wine but don’t know the right way. Unlike other drinks, you can’t have wine directly. Else, you won’t develop your senses of taste for it.

 

If you want to taste the wine and develop your palate, you have to follow a procedure. Yes, drinking wine has its own process. You have to follow 4 basic steps and some tips to refine your palate and strengthen your ability to wine. Make sure you learn the process given in this wine vacation guide so that you can enjoy the wine and remember it like a pro. 

 

 

LOOK: First thing first, take a look at your wine glass. You have to look at wine and check its color, viscosity, and opacity. This step is considered crucial as a lot of clues are hidden behind the appearance of the wine. Looking at it, you will get a lot of clues that will help you understand the wine better. However, make sure you just need to spend no more than 5 seconds on this step. So, take the glass, look at it, and move to the next step. 

 

SMELL: Now that you are done looking at wine, the next step is to smell it. Before you smell, swirl it in the glass. This step prepares your tastebuds and brain to sip in the wine. As our senses of smell have a deep influence on our brain, you need to stick your nose through the glass, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Now, you have to think of all the scents or aromas that your nose is picking up. Smell the wine and try to learn about its aromas. 

 

TASTE: This is the most obvious step- taste the wine! Remember- “There is no right or wrong way to taste the wine.” Tasting helps our tongue to detect the flavors and perceive their texture. Our tongue can “touch” the wine, and hence, it will tell you a lot about it. However, make sure it is a time-based step. There is a beginning, middle, and end of tasting wine. So, take your time and enjoy the taste of wine. 

 

THINK: The last step on this beginner’s wine vacation guide is to think about it. As you are done smelling and tasting the wine, you have to make it everlasting on your memory. Once you are done tasting, think about whether it is balanced or not, do you like the flavor, have you ever tasted something similar, and everything that comes to your mind. Thinking about it will leave an everlasting impression on your memory so that you can easily detect the taste of it in the future. 

 

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Wine and Food Pairing

 

 

A pair of good food and succulent drink strikes a balance between the components of wine and food. People find the pairing of food and wine a complex concept. But, in reality, it is not. Here in this beginners wine vacation guide, I have mentioned some tips that will help you unlock the pleasure of perfect pairing. If you have just started and are new to wine, these tips will make you confident and help you pair your drink better.  

 

1. The food that you choose should be less acidic than your wine. 

 

2. The sweetness of wine should be more than food. 

 

3. The flavor intensity of wine and food should be the same. 

 

4. Red wines go great with the meat of strong flavors.

 

5. Pair your white wine with less flavored or less-intense meat. 

 

6. Bitter wine and fatty food taste great together. 

 

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Important Information To Store Wine

 

 

There is a higher chance that you are looking for the answer to this question- How to store an open bottle of wine? Well, you can’t store your bottle of wine like any other liquor. There are some crucial guidelines that you must keep in mind for storing your wine bottle. Review the information given below in this beginners wine vacation guide, and know how to store wine. 

 

1. You have to keep your unopened bottle of wine in a cool dark area with mid-range dampness, which usually ranges from 50-70%.

 

2. It is preferable to keep the bottle at 55o F and at the place where the temperature usually remains stable. 

 

3. If your wine bottle has a cork, then you should store it in a horizontal position rather than keeping it vertically. 

 

4. To store wine for the long term or store a lot of wine, it is recommended to purchase a wine fridge. Yes, you can’t use a regular fridge as it is way too much cooler as required. 

 

5. Although wine can be stored for years, try to consume it within 5 years. 

 

6. Most wine drinkers are not aware that wine starts to degrade much faster when it comes in contact with oxygen. In case you half-emptied a bottle, the remaining wine will be exposed to the half bottle of oxygen. This is why it is suggested to transfer the remaining wine to a smaller container. 

 

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