Guide To Wine Appreciation

Wine 101 a beginners guide

By no means can I call myself a pro. I just enjoy a glass of wine and have tried to dissect the many different types and flavours offered.

First of all what is wine? Mentions of wine can be found in History for more than 8000 years. It is an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting crushed grapes better said grape juice. The natural sugars combine with yeast change and turn into alcohol. (actually there is more to it then that, but for us who only want to learn to enjoy, it's sufficient for now).

There are hundreds of grape varieties that result in thousands and thousands of varieties of wine produced worldwide. This is where intimidation comes into the whole wine selecting. Knowing a few basics is enough to help us get onto the right path. It's always easier to learn when the experience is a pleasant one. Lets face it we don't have to be experts to enjoy wine like a connoisseur.

Lets learn about the language of wine:

  • Acidity gives wine the clear fresh crispy flavour.
  • Balance is the cooperation or the unity of the separate elements; such as sweetness, acidity, alcohol - neither being overpowering
  • Body to correctly understand the light, medium and full-bodied wine statement in a layman's term: light- the wine feels like a fresh nice tasting flavored drink that slips down the throat and leaves a slight pleasant taste in the mouth. (Pinot Gris, Beaujolais maybe even my fave Chianti would classify ) medium-the wine has a bit more complex tastes that stay on the tongue longer. (Riesling, Merlot,my fave Zinfandel come into this category) full-bodied-this wine sits in the mouth and actually feels substantial or solid, its hard to explain but thick might cover it, not in substance but in flavor sensations . (white, rose and red are in this category , Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or my favorite Gewurztraminer are full-bodied)
  • Blend of a variety of grapes merged into a wine
  • Bouquet is the aroma of a wine. It can have a spicy, fruity, smoky, citrusy or floral scent.
  • Dry is a wine with very little sweetness. Usually the french term of 'sec' or 'demi-sec' is used. A dry wine will leaves a mouth-puckering sensation.
  • Finish is the flavours that are left in your mouth after swallowing the wine.
  • Intensity the more flavour layers the more depth or concentrations there is to the wine.
  • Legs are the streams left on the side of the glass after the wine has been whirled or swirled.
  • Oaky can be a variety of flavors left in the wine when it's fermented or aged in oak barrels.
  • Region describes the area where the grapes are grown and the wine is made.
  • Sparkling are wines that have carbonation left in them from the fermentation or they can be added later.
  • Tannin is a mouth puckering sensation in red wine that will even out or mellow out with time.
  • Vintage obviously is the year in which the wine was made.

Lets discover the ritual of how to tastea wine. The professional looking swearling and sniffing really has a purpose.

It's not necessary to invest into fancy crystal glasses to enjoy a great wine. A simple tall narrow elongated shaped glass will help to concentrate the delicate aroma of a white wine better. For the red wine a larger round bowled glass is better. This allows for air to be swirled into the wine which will bring out its rich flavors.

  • Fill a glass 1/2 full with wine and hold it up to the light. The deeper the color, the body and intensity, the fuller the wine. Always hold the glass by the stem so the warmth of your hand doesn't change the temperature of the wine.
  • Place your nose over the rim of the glass and smell the bouquet. Try to identify the scents...spicy, fruity, floral, smoky, tangy, sweet,
  • Now gently swirl the wine around and smell the bouquet again. By swirling, air mingles with the wine and thus releases the vivid and vibrant aromas.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate your senses and try to identify the wines tempting aromas. Light citrusy or oaky, grassy.....don't worry if you only smell 'wine' this is the trickiest and will take time and practice (darn, what a hard thing having to practice)
  • Now take a small sip...let it linger on your tongue a bit and take a couple of small sniffs of air at the same time. Savour. This is the time when the pros spit out the wine. (why I have not figures out yet, what a waste if its tasty).

An intricate part of wine appreciation comes with the know-how of 'pairing'. Wine and food complement each other and again practice makes perfect. It seems like forever the prominent chefs worldwide have set a basic rule of thumb. One thing to remember is that every taste pallet is different. Let's face it there really is no law what you can pair with your meal but some wines just seem to bring out the best in foods.

The rule of thumb is to serve a sweet wine with hot and spicy dishes. Pair, for example an Italian style wine with a meaty Spaghetti. A hearty beef stew needs to be accompanied by a full-bodied wine, like a Cabarnet Sauvignon. The fruity flavor of a Shiraz goes just perfect with BBQ ribs.

Here is a list of wines I like to serve with certain meals.

  • Steak, Roast Beef, Lamb is great with Cabarnet Sauvignon.
  • Burgers, Spaghetti, BBQ Chicken, Pasta go great with a Merlot.
  • Veal, Grilled fish, Roasted turkey, great served with Pinot Noir.
  • Thai, Indian, Chinese foods are great with a Gewurztraminer.
  • Cheese and fruit platters are perfect with a Shiraz, Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Pork Roast, Ham, verve best with a Riesling.
  • Pizza (meat or vegetarian) taste great with Chianti or a Chardonnay.
  • BBQ ribs are absolutely the best with a Shiras.

A few things to remember are to serve white and most rose wines chilled however the red is better at room temperature. Also open reds 20 minutes before serving so they can breathe...

To read a wine label should be easy to explain:

  • The name of the winery
  • Region where wine was made
  • Producer indicates the estate that produced the wine
  • Country of origin
  • Volume is the size of bottle
  • Vintage indicates the year of the wine
  • Alcohol Content shows the percent of the volume

A fun way to test out this new found awareness of tastes and scents is to have a wine tasting party. Get each of the guests to bring a bottle or two. And practice, compare notes enjoy and have fun.

More by this Author


Comments 44 comments

funky23 5 years ago from Deutschland

thanks that is great


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Hiya Greek, I'm with you that a high price tag does not necessarily mean it's a good tasting wine...(to my tastebuds anyway)

In 1999 a friend left me a "1953 Ürziger Würzgarten feinste Auslese" bottle of wine. (my kids kept teasing "...didn't he have something a little fresher in his winecellar?") I was told at the time that it was worth between 300-350 dollars. (1953 being a very good year-my best) I saved it for years and finally broke it open for my 50th birthday... it was good BUT... (all wine connoiseurs are going to pull out their hair at my ignorance here) I'm sorry to say not all that much different from a 10 year old bottle worth a fraction of that price.

That was a once in a life time experience, and since then I have made it my life's job to try as many wines as possible...some as fresh as can be (almost still grape juice hahaha)

Always glad when you stop in for a visit.

Kindest regards Zsuzsy


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Years ago my wife and I were playing hosts to a well known couple at an Italian restaurant. The husband was well known as a wine connoisseur, so I asked him to choose the wine for us. He recommended a wine which, according to him, was worth every penny of its high price. Full of admiration for his wealth of knowledge, I tasted this paragon of the wine industry. It was exactly the wine the mountain villagers made for themselves, were selling by the gallon for peanuts and with which I was very familiar. Ever since I have lost faith :-)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Clara, thanks for taking a look and for commenting. I was given a fabulous Australian Sauvignon a couple of months ago. Since then I've been trying out more Australian wines. Some that I've had were better then others.

Doing all this tasting is a tough and rotten job but someone has to do it...and I being the trooper that I am have volunteered and give it my all...

regards Zsuzsy


Clara Ghomes profile image

Clara Ghomes 7 years ago

nice hub i am addicted to red wines especially Australian. the varieties you have given lead me to think to change my choice. good keep it up


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Wineadvisor, thanks for taking a look and for commenting. I will check out the link.

regards Zsuzsy


Wine advisor 7 years ago

I read your article and it was interesting. Since

we're talking about wine investment, if you are keen

to find out more, do check out

http://www.profiters.com/

Profiters International offers wine investment services for capital growth, wine brokerage, wine portfolio management, wine purchase advice & exit strategies.

Alot of articles for wine lovers! you can also

receive the latest updates, with news about the wine

industry.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Resveratrol Reviews! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. I don't like to take pills so I will have to keep my red wine intake in fluid form

(It's a though one, I know, I know but....)

regards Zsyzsy


Resveratrol Reviews 7 years ago

They talk about all the health benefits of red wine so they concentrate it and make it into a pill...

Well that takes all the fun and enjoyment out of it now doesnt it?

Nicely done on your hub...2 thumbs up!

Cheers,


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Solarshingles! Where are you from? Egri bikaver is actually my most fave red wine. I have a bottle of 1953 Tokaji. It was made the year I was born and a birthday gift from a friend. I'm waiting for just the right time to break it open.

I'm working on a wine hub just dedicated to Hungarian wine that's the reason I didn't mention them in this one.

Thank you so much for taking a look and for your comments.

warmest regards Zsuzsy


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Dear Zsuzsy Bee, you made me to pour a glass of white German wine at 8am!, after reading your hub. Don't worry, I don't drink a lot and I can control drinking quite well, despite my both grandfather's boozy gens. I've spent quite a lot of years surrounded by wonderful wines and guests enjoying them.

In your text I do miss Hungarian Tokaji aszu, Egri Bikaver - Bulls Blood, which go so well with some of your food recipes...


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Bobbi! Thanks for visiting. I have not tried either of your wine suggestions . I will look for them and check them out. regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Nikoman! Sorry I missed your comment. Thanks for coming by. I haven't had a chance to try too many wines from Australia but I will resolve that problem in the next few months.

regards Zsuzsy


Bobbi Payne profile image

Bobbi Payne 8 years ago from Chicago

Great intro to wine tasting. I myself am a fan if big reds of the Rioja or Borolo variety.


nikoman profile image

nikoman 8 years ago

Try Australia for the best wine around. I may be somewhat biased though. (Tongue in cheek).

Thanks for the informative hub.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Nikoman! Thanks for your comment. If I must I must I'll suffer through my one glass of red per day if I have to...just for my healths sake mind you.

Jokes aside You're absolutely right about wine being good for the body; does wonders for the digestion too.

thanks for taking a llok regards Zsuzsy


nikoman profile image

nikoman 8 years ago

One glass of red a day does your health wonders. A rich source of antioxidants and resveratrol. Helps repair damaged cells and improve circulation.

Cheers.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

rmr! I'm always glad when you come for a visit. Wine can be an acquired taste. Thanks for your comment. regards Zsuzsy


rmr profile image

rmr 8 years ago from Livonia, MI

Zsuzsy, I'm not a fan of wine, but I can never resist reading one of your hubs. This one was very informative. Even if I don't enjoy drinking it, a little knowledge is never a bad thing. Thanks for the education!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Uninvited Writer! I love Chardonnay too. It's always nice to share a bottle with friends. Glad you came for a visit.

regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

C.S.Alexis! I'm with you...I love a nice glass of wine. Idon't think I can narrow my likings down to just one though.

thanks for taking a look. regards Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Lissie! great that you came for a visit. I will have to try Australian wine. There seem to be quite a few good reviews around.

regards Zsuzsy


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

One Australian wine I have recently discovered is Yellow Tail. I really enjoy their Merlot. I have a bottle of the Chardonnay in my fridge that I'll be trying tomorrow when I have people over. I love wine, expecially red wine.

This was a very informative hub, thanks :)


C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

Hey my glass is empty! Who's serving? Where, what..HUH.. Oh ! HiighI I love my wine. Dry for me thank-you. Lots of info here. I will bookmark this hub.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

I am just writing about our latest trip out of Perth - to one of the wine-growing areas of Western Australia. The Dry Reislings are particularly good as are the lighter reds. I have been drinking a lot of white recently - i like it better in a hot climate - though if it gets too hot I go brown - beer that is! Nice hub


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Glad to be of even a minor help.Thanks for visiting.

regards Zsuzsy


Rhym O'Reison profile image

Rhym O'Reison 8 years ago from Crowley, Tx

I have never known so much about wine before. Can't wait to shock everyone next time we go out by suggesting which wine would go with our meal. Thanks.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

On that note I'll get myself a glass before I continue on my merry reading hubs way...Thanks for coming by for a visit.

regards Zsuzsy


Blogger Mom profile image

Blogger Mom 8 years ago from Northeast, US

The only thing better than reading a hub about wine is drinking a glass of wine while reading a hub about wine. =)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

What a shame you don't like wine Angela. Next time when you don't need to be too savvy just add a little gingerale or 7up to your wine and it will tast just great.

regards Zsuzsy


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

One of my good friends is a wine lover. She has been trying to get me to appreciate wine for years now. I've got the technique down to an art, all the way up to actually tasting it. Then I just can't hide the look of distaste on my face. But I'm still trying! And oddly enough, the wines I tolerate the most are the cheap, sweet wines or the horridly expensive ones. It was fun reading this, though.


funride profile image

funride 8 years ago from Portugal

Lagedo wine I never tasted but Verdelo or Verdelho it´s a very good white wine from Madeira and Azores islands. Unfortunately Portuguese wines are not very well known but more important they are not easy to find outside Portugal :(


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Funride! Thanks I enjoy an occassional glass of port. I might be wrong but I received a bottle of wine a couple of Christmases ago from my next door neighbor. Lajedo I think (sorry if its spelled wrong). She came to Canada 65+ years ago from Pico island. I've also tasted what she calls Verdelo (again the name could be wrong) zs


funride profile image

funride 8 years ago from Portugal

Zsuzsy, personally I prefer Alentejo red wines. But as you might know Portugal has lots of great wines (specially red ones). For those who like sweet wines I recommend the world wide known Oporto wine.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Australian white. I don't recall if I had any Australian wine yet. I'll need to check it out. I recently found a Canadian Wine Estate near Niagara that is producing a nice collection. Their ice-wine is to die for...pure ambrosia. Fielding Estate Winery if you're interested to try. The Gewurztraminer, Zinfadel, and Fireside red are each great. I tasted a couple of nice dry whites too. (As far as Canadian wine is concerned. They have won quite a few awards and are starting to play with the big boys.)

Thanks for visiting Chantel

regards Zsuzsy


chantelg4 profile image

chantelg4 8 years ago from Northern Ontario

Excellent hub, I am an avid wine drinker, however, my preference tends to lean towards very dry white varieties and I am especially fond of Australian white wine.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Start at the very beginning with the wine. If all else fails pour the Heineken in a colored wine glass. Swirl it, sniff it, savour it, done deal. No-one will be the wiser. Heineken hmmmm! A very good choice with a thick juicy steak off the BBQ. regards Zsuzsy


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

I am still a novice, I don't know where to start :). I just drink a little Heineken :)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Funride! Greetings from Canada. You being from Portugal you must have an amazing great selection of wine. Which wine do you recommend from your country? Thanks for coming for a visit

regards Zsuzsy


funride profile image

funride 8 years ago from Portugal

Great hub! When I was younger I preferred white wine but just after a few years I started to like red wine and right now it´s the only one I drink, good red wine ;)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Thanks for taking a look Compu-smart.

Cheers to you too Zsuzsy


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

MrM. glad you came by for visit. Thanks for your comment. I love wine. white , red rose. I'm thinking that this fall (September our fall here) I'm going to try to make some.

regards Zsuzsy


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Great hub Zsuzsy.

Cheers;)


MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

Excellent timing.

 Yesterday one of the daily newspapers has a weekly magaine and this week it was all about red and white.

Ladies are gradually moving from whire to red.

More ladies still like bubbly, Which I must admit I am fond of as well.

Thank you

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working