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A Beginner's Guide to Wine

Updated on January 24, 2009

Ready for a little Wine 101?

Not everyone has a taste for wine, but many beginners who have just acquired the taste might feel overwhelmed when they encounter experienced wine drinkers.

I enjoy drinking wine at times, but I am by no means an expert. However, I don't want to find myself in an awkward social situation, without any knowledge of choosing, serving, or sipping a wine. Remember in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts didn't know how to use the silverware when out to dinner? Well, this is similar. Of course, most of us aren't prostitutes in a business deal with Richard Gere, but we still want knowledge. Right?

I will update this page as I learn more, but feel free to add any thoughts, ideas, and information you have about Wine 101.

 

 

White, Red,...or Pink?

Other than their colors, just what are the differences between these wines?

White Wine tends to be a light color, ranging from faintly yellow to golden amber. Basically, you can see through it. White wine is made from the juice of either dark or light grapes. White wine is served chilled.

 

Red Wine is predominantly red in color, hence the name. Red wine is made from the juice and skins of dark grapes. The naturally dark pigment of the grape skins give red wine its bold colors. Red wine is generally served at room temperature.

Pink Wine, also called Rosé or Blush Wine, is a light pink in color. It is a table wine made from red grapes, with the skins removed after fermentation has begun.

Other Common Wine Names

Sparkling Wine is a bubbly table wine. This is basically a wine that, like other carbonated beverages, contains carbon dioxide bubbles. The most commonly known sparkling wine is Champagne, from the French region of Champagne. However, most wine producing countries have their own sparkling wine.

Fortified Wine, also called Dessert Wine, is wine that alcohol has been added to during or after fermentation. Fortified wine is often sweeter than other wines and contains more than 14% alcohol. A commonly known fortified wine is Sherry.

 

 

 

 

The Wine Glossary

Rather than flying blind when it comes to wine, familiarize yourself with some basic wine words. You'll find yourself talking fluently about wine in no time.

  • Wine: A beverage made by fermenting grape juice. There are also fruit wines made from other fermented fruits.
  • Fermentation: "The anaerobic conversion of sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol by yeast." Huh? Okay, so yeast in the grapes convert sugar in the grapes (those lovely carbohydrates you either love or hate) to alcohol. Sweet: alcohol!
  • Sulfites: "Natural chemical used almost universally in small quantities in winemaking to prevent spoilage and oxidation. Winds sold in the United States that contain more than ten parts per million of this preservative must be labeled Contains Sulfites." Those who suffer from asthma are advised not to consume sulfites. Many of my all-natural, organic, granola munching friends (yes, I've been known to fall into this category at times) avoid all wines that contain sulfites.
  • Table Wine: Wine generally consumed with food, containing no more than 14% alcohol by volume.

For a more indepth wine glossary, click here.

What About the Wine Glass?

Now You Know About Wine, But

 

It is debatable whether there are right or wrong glasses to drink different kinds of wine out of. One argument suggests you drink wine out of any kind/shape/size glass you feel comfortable with. Other arguments lay out strict guidelines for the kind of glass you should use. You can choose for yourself, but here are some basic guidelines.

White Wines are usually served in a glass smaller than a red wine glass. It is also narrow, but not as narrow as a flute, to help the chilled wine retain its temperature.

Red Wine glasses tend to be bigger than white wine glasses. The bigger glasses are supposed to give off more of the richer aromas of a red wine. The rounder, wider bowl of this glass allows the wine to breathe.

 

Champagne Wines are generally served in elongated glasses that are narrow at the top. These glasses are called flutes, and are supposed to preserve the wine's fizziness.

 

 

While there are stemless wine glasses on the market, it is recommended that you use a stemmed wine glass. When drinking wine, you are supposed to hold the glass by the stem--this helps control the temperature of the wine. The temperature of the wine can be affected if you hold the bowl of the glass in your hand.

 

 

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    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Another Great hub Stacie, reminds me of the movie "Sideways" they talk about wine a lot. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0375063/ Thanks.

    • profile image

      Steve 8 years ago

      Great article. I've been to a wine tasting seminar where we tasted the exact wine in different glasses. It's amazing how much having the right glass affects the taste of wine!

    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 8 years ago from San Francisco

      Very nice list of basics. And I agree--the glass matters!

    • profile image

      Yuti98 8 years ago

      The glass matters as much as the wine ! There are times when i gift my friends Bottlenotes Stemware so they can add it to their collection!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      Thanks for this hub, I only know how to drink wine, now, at least I have a little knowledge of its basics.

    • profile image

      Espy 7 years ago

      I agree that the right glass makes a big difference in your wine tasting experience - the size of the bowl, the size of the opening, the elegance of the shape. (Does Macaroni Grill still serve their house/jug wine in a heavy water glass? I always order off the wine menu.) My personal favorite is the Riedle Ouverture - nice shape, nice balanced feel, not too expensive to replace.

    • profile image

      Melissa 7 years ago

      Thanks for the tips on wine!

    • Marie Dwivkidz profile image

      Marie Dwivkidz 7 years ago from UK

      Very useful. So much wine snobbery out there, nice to find some friendly down to earth advice!

    • christy ryan profile image

      christy ryan 7 years ago

      I just started a blog about wine and sake's. I too am no expert but it never hurts to learn, I'm just following my gut. Nice articles here, keep up the great work.

    • MarkAse profile image

      MarkAse 7 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I like the Hub Stacie, nice useful info for both the new wine drinker as well as the more experienced.

    • profile image

      Rose Barrett 7 years ago

      I had wondered about the stemless wine glasses. I never really liked them and now I know why. There is a reason for the stem!

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 7 years ago from Texas

      Lately I've been wondering about the different wine glass shapes. Thanks so much for the info.

    • gringotts profile image

      gringotts 7 years ago

      Nice hub about wine!

    • profile image

      funky23 6 years ago from Deutschland

      thats what i was looking for

    • RussellLHuey profile image

      RussellLHuey 5 years ago

      Great guide.Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Jess 3 years ago

      Son of a gun, this is so helfupl!

    • profile image

      Ravi 3 years ago

      Please leave your personal inomtfarion such as name, e-mail, contact tel number, occupation and why interested in the glass activity to . I think it is better to not to expose your inomtfarion publicly.

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