Everyone has to start their wine journey somewhere, and with all the jargon around wine it can get just a little bit confusing and daunting. Whether you are starting out on your wine journey or whether you’re looking for a refresher, this is a short 5 point pocket guide that will help anybody navigate a bottle of wine.
Become Familiar with Grape Varietals
1 There are many varieties of grapes in the world. Each grape varietal has a unique flavour profile – so there is always something to discover. Deep, bold reds can include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec or French Bordeaux (which is a blend of a few different varieties). Smooth, silky reds include Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Carmenere. If you like a balance of sweetness and acidity, a Riesling might be for you. Or perhaps you’ll prefer the versatility of what Chardonnay has to offer. In any case, getting to know your favourite grapes and varietals is crucial in better understanding what wines you’ll prefer.
Get to Know Your Preferred Wine Style
2 Do you prefer light, medium or full-bodied wines? Get to know which type you like, when, and why. Your preference may change based on your mood, the occasion, the weather outside, or what you are eating. Summer may encourage lighter, refreshing whites (like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling) while winter can entice you into fuller bodied whites and reds like Chardonnay or Syrah (also called Shiraz).
Don’t Judge a Wine by its Label
3 Flashy art or a higher price tag can lead you to believe you are purchasing quality wine. Be mindful this is not always the case. Read the labels (both front and back). You can even research the producer for added information as you can learn more about the product and the producer’s work.
It’s Mostly all White Until it Hits the Skins
4 Almost every grape in the world produces white juice regardless of the colour of their skins. Wine gets its pink, red and burgundy colour hues from the length of time it spends in contact with its skins. Yes, you can make white wine from red grapes – the most famous is champagne as it is made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Grapes. There are some exceptions to this, but that’s for another time.
Geek Out With Climate (and rocks for that matter!)
5 Temperature and climate are a big part of what makes wine from around the world so unique. Warmer regional climates known for growing include California, Australia, Argentina, Spain, and Southern France. Meanwhile Canada, Northern France, Northern Italy, New Zealand, and Germany are known as cooler climate wine regions. Each grape varietal performs differently based on the location – so knowing that Shiraz loves a lot of sunshine explains why Australia has been known to produce many great bottles.
*Always drink responsibly.