Listen up everyone. We have a serious issue to address. For some reason we have been absolutely horrible to wine culture: Passing off a $10 bottle of Bodacious as a “good” wine. Then binge-drinking said wine. And…the entire existence of *shudders* boxed wine. It is tragic. We need to stop.
There is so much more to the art that is, as the Italians call it, ~vino~. Wine is an entire experience. A journey, if you may.
Now lets be real though. There is way too much about wine to know and realistically, we don’t really have the time or desire to care about every single detail. But lets cover some basics to help you seem like you actually know what you are doing when the server hands you the wine list, and hence, avoid embarrassing yourself in front of your cute date.
We’ll cover everything from what the heck a dry wine is, to confidently being able to say that you can taste the oaky, fruity flavour notes in your Chardonnay.
There’s more than just Red and White
So you know the difference between a red and a white wine. Congrats, you are not colour-blind. But let’s dig a bit deeper into the differences between taste and texture of a few different types of “Reds” and “Whites” -because a difference does exist.
For some reason, we are all terrified of red wine. But in fact, red wine is actually kind of healthy for you, and quite delicious. You can typically pair a red wine with red meats or a nice charcuterie board.
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
These are both full-bodied wines, meaning that they are rich in texture, taste, and weight. Merlot is a very smooth, dark wine, and has notes of cherry and plum. Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit more acidic, with riper notes of currant and pepper.
Pinot Noir is most typically classified by its light, acidic taste. It is also fruity. And dry. Delicious.
White wine is also quite lovely, when treated well. It pairs well with seafood, and creamy sauces/cheeses
Ah, Chardonnay. This is a very popular, and full bodied wine. It is both oaky and fruity, with fresh notes of apple and citrus.
Sauvignon Blanc can be best described by its refreshing and crisp taste. It is acidic with earthy and herbal flavour notes, and typically has hues of green.
Pinot Grigio is a very refreshing, almost oily, light-bodied wine -which can be contrasted with the full-bodied Chardonnay. It typically has a fruity, almost spicy taste.
And a thing about Rosé Wine…
No, Rosé is not made with pink grapes. Rosé is a nice, light pink colour because the skins of the grapes are removed during the fermentation process. Now you know.
Just an FYI, this only skims the surface. Within each of these wine types, there are even more ways to break it down. Not only that, but there are more types of wine which we haven’t even discussed yet. But we’re not going to get that intimate with the vino.
HOWEVER, here are a few important variants you should know about:
Dry: A dry wine just means that there are minimal or no added sugars- so they are not very sweet. If you care about the full wine experience, try to order a dry wine, as this will make sure the lovely flavour notes are not sugar-coated (haha literally).
Oaky: Wine has something called tannin, which is a powdery substance found in ingredients such as oak, grape seeds etc. Tannin is what makes your mouth feel “dry” when you are drinking the wine.
Fruity: The fruity notes in your wine can vary according to different climates (warm or cold). After all, wine is made all over the world. For example, in warmer climates you will most likely get notes of more tropical fruits.
Taste the Wine
Believe it or not, wine was not meant for chugging the whole bottle before going out on a Saturday night. There is, in fact, a specific way to drink your wine to taste flavour notes other than “drunk”.
Luckily, I visited Italy just to collect the best wine tasting knowledge for all you poor souls. SO, to fully embrace all that the wine has to offer, follow these steps:
1. See the wine
First, observe the colour of your wine. If it’s a white, are there hues of gold? Straw? If it’s a red is it a deep, dark cherry colour? Or is it more of a bold red, like strawberries? Observing your wine will help you be more in tune with the fermentation process used to make your wine- In case you were interested in that.
2. Smell the wine
Observe the scent of the wine by bringing the glass close to your nose (and smell it). Then, give the glass a twirl to release the flavour notes. Smell it again. See if there is a difference: are there fruity notes? Earthy ones?
3. Chew the wine
Now that you have used two of your senses, it is time to taste the wine. Take a sip and “chew” it around in your mouth. This way, you can observe the different tastes in the different places of your mouth. Try to observe the freshness in the side of your mouth. That sensation comes from minerals which are in the soil where the grapes are grown.
4. Drink the wine
This is now a great time to swallow the wine. Obviously.
Now, hopefully you have developed somewhat of an appreciation for the art of vino. Next time you go out, you can impress your date by ordering a bottle of wine like a pro (or to just sound like a pretentious a**hole, whatever you’re into really).
So go celebrate your new knowledge with a charcuterie board and a nice bottle of Merlot with some friends. Cheers! Saluti! Prost! Skål!
Olivia & the Zillennials