How to Talk about Wine Like a Pro
Would you like to show off your wine IQ and impress friends with your great grape intelligence? You can forget about wine connoisseur school and learn the basics right now. Here's a crash course in winery to get you looking like you actually know what you're talking about.
There are some standard principles that will give you a solid grounding in wine knowledge. Read on and learn more so that next time you pop open a bottle of vino with your Oster® Metallic Turquoise Electric Wine Opener, you'll know your stuff.
What Type of Wine Is It?
There are hundreds of varieties of wine that hail from all around the world. To talk about wine like a pro, you'll have to move beyond referring to it as "that red one." Red wines are made with red grapes and contain more tannin - the parts of the grape besides the inner flesh, like seeds and skin - than their white counterparts. Because of the higher tannin content red wines have a richer and more acidic taste, and are typically paired with red meats. Popular types of red wine include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Malbec and Shiraz. White wines are lighter and fruitier than reds, and are usually paired with seafood. Common white wines include Chardonnay, Moscato, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
Where Does the Wine Come From?
While wine comes from all over the globe, you can generally divide wines into two categories: Old World and New World. Old World encompasses countries that have been making wine almost since ancient times, believe it or not, and wines in this category are thoroughly regulated. Old World wines include those originating from France, Italy, Austria and Spain. New World wines are haven't been in the game quite as long, and typically New World wineries are located in younger countries, like the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa and Chile. Some countries are specially known for producing certain types of wine. For example, Argentina is known for its Malbec and Germany is known for its Riesling.
What Does the Wine Look Like?
When looking at a glass of wine, there are certain characteristics that indicate what type of wine it is and what it will taste like. The first thing to think about is the color of the wine. Overall, a quality wine will be clear, not murky and have depth and a crisp color, whether it's red or white. For red wines, the darker the hue of the wine, the more depth and intensity its taste. After investigating the color of the wine, you want to look for whether it has "legs" by giving it a swirl. If you're first starting out, don't give the glass too aggressive of a twirl - that may cause problems for your tabletop and clothing. Instead, play it cool by gently swirling the glass on the table. The longer the wine sticks to the sides of the glass, the heavier and more alcoholic the wine, generally speaking.
"There's a whole slew of wine vocab that can be useful to learn."
What Does the Wine Taste Like?
Just like with perfume, it can be difficult to put a label on what we smell in a wine. It can also be challenging to describe what a wine tastes like. Fortunately, you don't have to find the words on your own - there's a whole slew of wine vocab that can be useful to learn. Red wines are frequently described as dry, chalky, velvety, big or angular. White wine words usually include crisp, silky, fruity and creamy. In terms of flavors and scents, red wines typically incorporate cherry, tobacco, plum, vanilla, chocolate and oak, while white wine flavors include citrus, apricot, peach, honey and pear.
After all that analysis and preparation, it's important to pay attention to your initial reactions after tasting a wine and think about whether it tastes balanced or whether certain aspects stick out. Then, notice how long the taste lingers on. Generally, the longer the taste of a wine pleasantly lingers, the higher the quality.