Understanding the basics of wine can be daunting, whether you’d like to start a personal collection, want to impress friends and family at your dinner parties, or simply want a bit more knowledge for selecting wines at restaurants…This post will help you out!
With such a vast array of wines available today, finding a place to start can seem overwhelming.
In this article, we’ll go into detail on how to develop your knowledge base by exploring different wine varieties and wine regions of the world where famous grape-growing climates are located – sounds like fun to me!
So break out that corkscrew, and let’s get you up to speed and Improve Your Wine Knowledge.
Also, check out our Wine Tram Tour In Cape Town that we did a few years ago, it was such fun!
The basics of wine – Red, White and Rosé
While wine lovers may find sommeliers or connoisseurs intimidating, the basics of wine are actually quite straightforward.
Red, white, and rosé are the three primary wines:
- Red wine is made by fermenting dark-coloured grapes, like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- White wine is made with light-coloured grapes, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio,
- While rosé is a blend of dark and light varieties.
Whether one prefers a deep ruby-red Malbec from Argentina or a crisp Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy, understanding the fundamental differences among red, white, and rosé varieties can be the first step to upgrading one’s appreciation for wine.
How to Wine Taste like a Pro
Wine tasting is a skill that can be learned.
To get started, understand the different elements of a quality bottle – body, tannin, acidity, sweetness, and finish.
The body refers to the richness or weight of the wine in your mouth, it should feel balanced.
Tannins are naturally occurring chemicals that give the wine its ‘bite’ or astringency.
Acidity should be balanced and contribute to the overall flavour profile, too much will make a wine seem sour or unpleasantly acidic.
Sweetness is determined by how much sugar remains in the wine after fermentation, it should not dominate the taste but rather provide a subtle backdrop for the other elements.
Finally, the finish is when you can taste and sense the flavours of the wine well after it has left your mouth.
All these components should be in harmony as you sip your premium bottle.
Wine and Food Pairing Ideas to Improve Your Wine Knowledge
Pairing wine and food can be fun and may help you to adventure out of your normal routine.
To begin, think about the type of cuisine you’re serving.
A red-sauce pasta dish would pair best with an Italian red such as Chianti or Sangiovese, while a delicate fish dish would work better with a crisp white such as a Sauvignon Blanc.
For those who prefer to entertain guests with premium wines, premium wine clubs offer great selections from various regions worldwide.
With premium wine clubs, you can sample different varieties of reds and whites without committing to an entire case, allowing for exploration and experimentation while entertaining.
Another great way to expand your wine knowledge is by attending local wine-tasting events, often hosted by local wineries, this is an activity we enjoy while traveling.
Not only will you discover new wines and flavour profiles, but you can also ask questions of local vintners (wine merchants), who are more than happy to share their insight into producing quality bottles of wine.
Understanding Wine Labels
Understanding a wine label is essential to becoming a more informed consumer.
From the producer’s name to the vintage year and appellation, labels can help you determine whether or not a bottle of wine will deliver on its promise once opened.
Start by checking the back label for information about the maker, type of grapes used, and nation of origin. This is usually a good indicator of how the wine will taste, as certain climates are better suited to certain varieties of grapes.
Knowing how to read a wine label can also help you find unique wines that won’t break the bank.
Affordable Wine For Beginners
For those who want to explore without breaking the bank, there are plenty of affordable wines priced under $20 (About R340).
Beginners should start with sweeter wines like Riesling from Germany or Moscato from Italy, these types often taste less intimidating and can help bridge the gap between novice and enthusiast.
Try a Merlot from Chile or a Syrah from South Africa if you’d like to try red wine. Both are full-bodied and have fruity notes that can help build an appreciation for bolder reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage.
For white wines, look to Sauvignon Blanc from France or New Zealand, as these wines are light and refreshing.
Whatever your preference, there are plenty of affordable bottles available to try.
Some other tips for becoming a better-educated wine consumer include joining social media groups dedicated to wine, attending educational classes and tastings offered by local wineries, and subscribing to magazines or websites that offer tips on selecting the right bottle.
With time, you’ll be able to choose wines confidently with your personal preferences and perhaps your menu in mind.
Learning about wine is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With some knowledge, exploration, patience and time, anyone can become a wine connoisseur.
By understanding the basics of red, white, and rosé wines and how to sample them properly, you will become more confident in choosing the ideal bottle for any occasion.
I hope this post on how to Improve Your Wine Knowledge has been fun and helpful.
Until next time, Happy sipping!