By Steve Dolan | The Beginning Wine Lover
Wine is the perfect drink for a wide variety of situations, from dinner to special occasions to romantic settings, even to backyard barbecues. Indeed, wine is one of the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverages. Wine is a drink made from fermented grapes, and comes in a variety of tastes and colors based on the type of grape used to create the wine. One aspect that makes wine different from other beverages is the importance of aging. Many wine drinkers are intrigued by the wine making process and the length of time required to make quality wine. For this reason, vineyard and winery tours are popular tourist and recreational activities.
Wine tasting for beginners
There is a lot more to tasting wine than simply tipping back your glass. Indeed, there are five main steps to assessing the quality of wine, and only two of them actually involving drinking any wine. This method of wine tasting is often given the pneumonic key “The Five S’s: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor.” The steps include judging the color, swirling the wine in the glass, smelling the aroma of the wine, sipping and tasting the wine, and savoring the flavor to test how long lasting the taste is in your mouth.
To avoid getting tipsy when testing wines, which can color your perception, most wine tasters do not actually drink the wine. At events and wineries, wine tasters may receive a spittoon into which to spit the wine, or may be asked to simply spit the wine onto the ground if it is an outdoor tasting.
A variation of tasting is blind tasting. Blind tasting involves offering a taste of the wine without allowing the taster any indication as to the wine’s origins or makeup. This usually means presenting the wine without allowing the taster to see the bottle, know the name or the date of origin, and, in some cases, even see the color. In those instances, the wine is often presented in a black or otherwise dark glass.
Many connoisseurs of wine and wine tasting travel around the world to some of the most notable wineries and vineyards on the globe in order to participate in wine tasting and winery tours. In many instances, wineries may offer tastings of their vintage wines and other more notable wines for a higher price.
Different types of wines
Wine is usually categorized in relation to its place of origin and/or type of grape. Pinot, Chardonnay, and Merlot are examples of wines named for their grape, while Willamette Valley wines and Napa Valley wines are common examples of wines named for the region where they are made. In some cases, both the production region and the grape variety are used in the name of the wine, which offers wine connoisseurs an idea of the wine without ever having to taste it.
When classifying wines, much depends on taste, use, and presentation. Red and white wine, for instance, are commonly matched with different types of food: white with pasta and poultry, and red with red meats. Red wine is made with grape skins, while white wine is made in the absence of grape skins. Other wine variations include sparkling wines such as champagne, cooking wines, table wines that are often less expensive, and many other variations.
Where to store your wine
If you are a wine collector or connoisseur, or indeed run a winery or vineyard, it is important to maintain a wine cellar. A wine cellar is essential for preserving the quality and taste of your wine. Cellars can do this by maintaining a constant temperature and humidity, and keep the wine in darkness. Temperature fluctuations and exposure to heat and light can cause wine to spoil and lose its best attributes. Not only do cellars keep the wines from spoiling, they can also improve certain wines by bringing out its aroma and flavor.
Where does wine come from?
The world leader for wine production is Italy. Indeed, the images of generations-old wineries and vineyards are almost synonymous with the Italian countryside and street side bistros. After Italy in terms of the volume of annual wine production is France and Spain. The United States ranks sixth in the world, with the vast majority of the wine coming from the vineyards and wineries of the California valleys.
Everyone loves wine
There is an interesting link between references to wine in popular culture and spikes in interest in wine and wine tasting, even to specific types of wine. A perfect example of this is the 2004 surprise hit Sideways. In many European countries, however, interest in understanding and appreciating wine has been ongoing for centuries, and needs little boosts from pop culture references. Other notable wine-laden films include French Kiss, A Walk in the Clouds, and many others.