Sunday, April 02, 2006

Basic wine tasting information

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About Wines - In General

  1. Wine is fun, don't let the wine snobs intimidate you
  2. Cheap wine may taste better than expensive
  3. No one is an expert -- it's your mouth
  4. There is more wine produced worldwide than anyone can or is able to taste and know well.
  5. Learn the key varietals to obtain a basic working knowledge

Guess who makes the most wine?

# Acres under cultivation per country (as of 2001)

SPAIN 3,052,000
FRANCE 2,258,000
ITALY 2,244,000
TURKEY 1,395,000
CHINA 888,000
IRAN 744,000
PORTUGAL 613,000
ROMANIA 610,000
CHILE 440,000

Number of Vineyards in the USA

Year California United States
2005 2,275 4,929
2004 2,059 4,356
2003 1,869 3,873
2002 1,704 3,469
2001 1,562 3,187
2000 1,450 2,904

Conclusion: No one can taste everything, there are simply too many different vineyards. Wine snobs are only experienced posers.

Enjoying wine is a fun social event. Wine may be something to add flavor and color to a good meal. Wine is for fun!

Tasting wine is an opportunity to tune your taste buds and nose to find new flavors over time, but most importantly, it's your personal experience.

Wine Questions

Question: How do you make wine?

  1. Collect many grapes
  2. Place them in a clean container
  3. Crush the grapes
  4. Wait while they ferment
  5. Yeast and sugar in juice mix
  6. Sugar converts to alcohol
  7. When yeast is consumed, you have wine

Question: How do vintners control flavor?

During Fermentation (3d - 3m)

  • Type of container used for fermentation (often stainless steel and oak)
  • Vary container size and temperature during fermentation

During maturation (2months - several years)

  • Duration of maturation
  • Type of container

Question: What's the difference between red & white wine?

White wine is from white grapes (usu. Green or other colors, but not red or blue colored grapes). Alternate technique (often with Champagne): juice and not skin of red grapes. The skin contains the pigments.

Question: Which wine do you serve chilled?

White wine is served cool, not iced

Wine Tasting Tips

  • Drink water between wines
  • Rinse out your glass, if you can
  • Swirl the wine around the glass to release the aroma
  • Smell first
  • Drink slowly
  • Try to inhale a small breath while you have some wine in your mouth

You're in Trouble If You Taste the Following

  • Moldy fruit
  • Vinegar
  • Chemicals from the dry cleaners, barber shop or hair salon
  • Cork
  • Flat wine (oxidized)


There are about 10,000 different types of wine (aka varietals)

Four common (and well marketed varietals are):

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio)
  • Pinot Noir
  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Noble Grape Varietals:

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Burgundy, France
Cabernet Sauvignon of Bordeaux, France

What is Chardonnay?

  • White grape
  • Planted in virtually all wine producing countries
  • Established brand
  • Often oak treatedBurgundyhite burgundy tradition)
  • oak tastes toasty, smoky, spicy, vanilla-like or butterscotch-like
  • Fruity aromas (apple-like in cooler regions to tropical fruits, like pineapple in warmer regions)
  • Medium to high acidity
  • Usually rich and full bodied
  • Typically dry
  • Mid to high end wines usually 100% chardonnay

What is Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio?

  • Mutated from black Pinot Noir grape
  • White grape, but darker skinned
  • Often deeper in color, except Italian Pinot Grigio, which are pale
  • Medium to full-bodied
  • Low acidity
  • Flavors of fruit skins, such as peach or orange
  • Oregon is particularly successful with Pinot Gris (compared to CA)

What is Pinot Noir?

  • Difficult wine to make, but often greatest potential
  • Red Burgundy is the prime model for Pinot Noir
  • Oregon and CA produce good Pinot
  • Pinot production often limited due to vine's preference for specific climates and soils
  • Lighter in color than other reds (Cab and Merlot)
  • High alcohol
  • Medium acidity
  • Medium to low tannin
  • Very fruity flavors (red berries) or earthy and woodsy

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

  • Very adaptable and easy to grow
  • Best known for Medoc area of Bordeaux and California
  • High tannins
  • Medium to full body
  • Classic aroma and flavor is black currant or cassis
  • Good Cabernet Sauvignons can age for 15+ years
  • Lower quality often tastes soft and generically fruity (can't taste black currants)


Dude said...

I've heard that a glass of red wine a day is suppose to help with blood circulation, overall health, and extend a persons life.

makingourway said...


Thanks for the comment.
I hope all is well "overthere".

I've heard the same thing mentioned by health professionals, so why not enjoy?

Have a great Sunday,