Buying and tasting wine is a lot of fun, but it requires a little knowledge about the subject to do that with any confidence or certainty. What follows is a concise beginner’s guide to fine wine, by no means an exhaustive expose on vino. However, the information contained within will at least help you navigate through your options.
Types of Fine Wine
Fine wine is typically broken down into several categories, most notably “red” and “white.” Interestingly, there are over 10,000 species of grapes used to make wine and hundreds of different varietals ranging from cabernet sauvignon and voignier to merlot and chardonnay. It’s important to taste each wine before passing judgement on its appearance, aroma or price.
FACT: Red wine is made from whole grapes – seeds, skins and all – while white wine is made from deseeded, skinned grapes, hence the relative colours.
Fine Wine Tasting Tips
To find your ideal bottle it’s important to participate in a few tastings. Learning to taste wine properly is a skill that must be acquired before the first batch is purchased. Understanding and expanding your pallet is of equal importance because it allows you to fully explore the complex flavors contained in each bottle.
• Gentle swirl the contents of the glass to unlock the flavor profile.
• Take a big sniff inside the glass to pique your taste buds.
• Hold your breath or squeeze your nose while swallowing to isolate and unmute the flavors.
Keep in mind that there is no magic formula for tasting wine; it’s all about your approach and consistency. When you drink a glass, pay close attention to the appearance and aroma as well.
The best fine wine is produced in a region of the world that’s well-known for its high-quality grapes. One type of fine wine can taste different than a bottle of the same wine from another region. To choose great wine, it’s vital that you familiarise yourself with the various regions producing bottles.
• Old World – regions with long wine production histories (France, Italy, Germany, etc.)
• New World – regions with relatively new wine production histories (U.S., Spain, Australia, etc.)
Note that some wine makers mention the type of grape rather than the region on the bottle’s label. This is usually an effort to highlight the quality of the grapes and direct attention away from the fact that the wine is not of “old world” derivation. While older vineyards tend to produce better a product, some of the younger regions are catching on to the craft quite quickly.