Wine Lover’s Guide to Enjoying Wine
In this world, you have two types of people- beer people and wine people. I am the latter. I do enjoy a glass of wine often- especially with food- and have developed liking for both the red and white types. Although, I do habitually prefer red because of its strong, musky flavor and its healthier benefits (red wine is much richer in antioxidants than white wine, since it is made mostly from the skins of black grapes). The two types of red wine I savor the most are wines with chocolate/red fruit undertones and wines with strong, floral undertones. These combinations are extremely aromatic, and due to their concentrated taste, are best sipped slowly and enjoyed. Red, overall, is a quantitative winner in my book, but white does occasionally win the quality vote. Some of my favorite bottles of wine happen to be dessert, white wines. Overall, when it comes to some of the best I’ve tasted, I must say that sweet Hungarian Tokaji (a white wine) and Portuguese Porto (fruity and fortified red wine) top my list!
Here are some interesting facts about wine:
- It is documented that grapes have been harvested to produce wine as far back as 4000 BC.
- All wine, whether it is still, sparkling, fortified or aromatized, is fermented grape juice. Its types are red, white and rose and styles vary from dry, medium to sweet. The alcohol content usually ranges from 5.5 to 14 percent.
- The most popular variety of black grape that produces red wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, while the most popular variety of white grape that produces white wine is Chardonnay.
- Italy and France are the top wine producers in the world.
- California produces 95 percent of America’s wine in a style and quality closest to the great French wines.
- Red wine’s character comes from its “tannins”- chemicals found in grape skins and seeds- and play a key role in aging red wine.
- Sparkly wine is known as champagne. The only difference between champagne and regular white wine is that champagne is processed through double fermentation (during which yeast and sugars are added); this process is what creates the character tiny bubbles.
- Organic wines are produced using natural herbicides and are made with minimal usage of chemicals (fining agents and additives) and filtration techniques.
- The longest and least-marked corks signal wines of best quality that are suitable to aging. Air affects wine from the moment it is opened, making it taste flatter. Wine will not spoil for several days, but it is best had when first opened. If it needs to be stored after opening, it should be re-corked and refrigerated.
How wine is made:
1) First, stems and stalks of grapes are taken off and both juice and skins are put in a fermentation vat; the resulting grape solids give the juice its color.
2) Fermentation occurs and solids are further squeezed to release wine.
3) Sulfur dioxide may be added to control oxidation and kill unwanted bacteria. Likewise, many wines clarified using egg white, gelatin, fish protein, liquid tannin, charcoal, and certain clays. When it comes to sweet wines, sorbic acid may be added to inhibit the growth if yeast and bacteria in sweet wines.
4) Inexpensive wine may be bottled right away, but most is run into oak casks or stainless-steel vats to age. Limited exposure to oxygen in the air through the pores in the wood helps to mature the wine.
5) Wine is usually sealed with corks. It is a traditional stopper that has no effect on the wine and is quite cheap to make.
Assesing Wine Quality:
* Color shows the intensity and depth of red wine, while clarity of the wine shows whether the wine is young or old (young wine will be brighter than old wine).
* Viscosity of the wine shows its alcohol and sugar content. To check for viscosity, twirl wine in its glass and look for the “tears” that cling to the side of the glass. The more prominent the trace, the higher the wine is in alcohol, sugar or both.
* The length and consistency (after-taste) of the flavor suggests that the wine is of high quality.