If you're not an educated wine conn oisseur, buying a bottle of wine can be a confusing task. Whether you're choosing wine for a girls night in or a special dinner party, understanding some basic wine lingo will help you make the right choice.
If you want to learn more about wine, you have to speak the language. Here are some important wine vocabulary terms that are used to describe taste, smell and structure:
- Acidity – The crispness or refreshing taste at the end of a glass of wine. White wines have higher acidity than red wines.
- Astringency – The amount of pucker a wine creates when you drink it. Astringency is higher in red wines than white wines.
- Body – The weight (thickness or thinness) of a wine in your mouth. Body is determined by grape varietals, alcohol content, and the age of the wine.
- Earthy – Organic flavors of dirt and grass, common in red wines.
- Oaky – Flavors of wine stored in oak barrels during fermentation.
- Tannins – Bitterness that causes one to pucker, found more in red wines.
- Aroma – The overall smell of wine based on grape varietal (grape variety).
- Bouquet – The smell of wine based on aging.
- Nose – The smell of wine in the glass.
- Aeration – Allowing oxygen to mix with the wine.
- Structure – Describes the relationships between acidity, tannins and alcohol in a wine. More structure creates more layers of flavor.
Red Wines Vs White Wines
Wines are primarily classified by grape varietal and growth regions. Red and white grapes are used most in winemaking, but some wines combine different grapes to create unique taste. Depending on grape varietal, including size, color, skin thickness and acidity, the body, aroma and tannins in wine can vary significantly.
Red wines are produced from red, black or blue grapes. Red wine gets its color when the juice from the grapes soaks with the grape skins over time. This fermentation process gives red wine astringency and a bold, rich color and body that ranges from tart to sweet. Red wines age better than white wines and should be served at warmer temperatures to enhance complex aromas. Popular red wines include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon – With a rich, dark color, full bodied flavor and hints of fruity or woody notes, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with red meat dishes and pasta.
- Pinot Noir – With a fragile, light taste, Pinot Noir offers a good balance of tartness and sweetness with earthy and fruity notes. It's perfect for chicken, lamb and fish dishes.
- Merlot – If you're looking for a good introduction to red wine, Merlot has a full-bodied taste that's fruity, light and easy to drink. It complements any type of food.
White wines are produced primarily from white grapes, but they can be made from red grapes as well, since grape juice is initially colorless when it's extracted. Champagne, a well-known, bubbly white wine, is made from both white and red grapes. Champagne becomes a sparkling wine as it ferments in the bottle. White wines have high acidity, and can be dry, light or sweet. They should be served chilled to bring out aromas. Popular white wines include:
- Chardonnay – With a wide bodied, citrus flavor, Chardonnay is a great choice for chicken and fish dishes. When fermented in an oak barrel, it has earthy notes with hints of vanilla, coconut or toffee.
- Sauvignon Blanc – Considered a versatile wine for all types of cuisine, this wine has an herbal, fruity flavor with notes of blackcurrant and gooseberry.
- Chenin Blanc – This popular French wine has wonderful hints of apples and quinces that give it a light, fruity flavor. It ranges from sweet to sparking and can be paired with all types of food.
- Riesling – With fresh acidity, this wine gets better with age. Riesling offers a light bouquet with hints of flowers and fruit. It pairs well with poultry, pork and fish dishes.
To learn more about wine and discover your favorites, visit us at Poppy & Quail. You'll find a wide variety of wines for every occasion.
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