In our first blog, we talked about how to drink wine and what glasses you should use. This month we’ll talk about what exactly is in this glass.
Last week we took some guests to a brewery in Healdsburg, CA. The guests were new to wine, but they were real beer aficionado. They used words like “IPA,” “lager,” and “ale.” They had a tasting of these types of beers lined up and they really enjoyed discussing the flavors and comparing it to other beers they had had.
I sat there totally lost. I had no idea what any of these terms meant and I certainly could not join the discussion on the nuances and characteristics of their beer. If you are new to wine, as I am to beer, then terms, styles, and names of wine can be confusing, especially at a wine tasting, just like those terms were confusing to me at the beer tasting.
So in this month’s blog, we would like to break it down and make it a little easier to understand what you are tasting and why.
The first thing to learn about is the color of wine. There is red wine, white wine, and rose`. The only thing that makes wine red, is contact with red grape skins. This is because the flesh of all grapes (except for a few varietals such as alacante bouschet) is clear or “white.” Most “white” wines come from grapes with greenish or yellow skins.
However, many sparkling wines that are white are made from pinot noir, which is a red grape. This is done by immediately removing the juice from the skin. A rose` or pink wine is a wine that has had a little bit of contact with the red skins. A really deep red wine has probably been in contact with the skins for weeks whereas a rose` has had contact with the skins for a few hours.
Now that we have the color down, let’s talk about the names. On a label you’ll often see the name of the grape variety such as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, etc. This is simply the type of grape the wine is made from. It’s very similar to apples. When you go to a grocery store there are many types of varieties of apples. You have a granny smith, red delicious, fugi, gala, etc. They all taste like apples, but each has a special character that makes it unique to that varietal. Granny Smith is often tart, Fugi is sweet and firm. More than likely when you go to the store you have a favorite type of apple you tend to buy.
This is exactly the same with wine grapes. Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, zinfandel, etc are simply the names of different types of wine grapes. They all taste like grapes but each has a different character.
The more you try wine the more you’ll start to learn what types of wine is your favorite. Let us know what you are liking and why, we love the wine journey, no matter if you are at the beginning or further on up the road.