A GIRL’S GUIDE TO WINE
Wouldn’t life be great if wine wasn’t so frustratingly complicated? You get invited to a fancy restaurant dinner, dressed to the nines, your hair and makeup stunning, your manners proper. And just when you start feeling good about yourself, someone hands you a wine list and you kind of want to shoot something. How do you even pronounce these things? What on earth are you supposed to do with a bordeaux? Well, worry not! For any girl who wishes to learn more about wine and how to match it with her food, there are tricks that can turn you from an unsophisticated plebe to a real expert with bragging rights to annoy all your friends. So, here you are a quick guide to wine for you.
GUIDE TO WINE – STYLES
There are five major groups of wine, and you probably already know some of them. Red wine, made with a variety of dark-colored grapes, its taste ranges from dry to sweet, and it’s the wine with most variety. White wine is usually produced from a mix of green grapes, and it has a much lighter color and a creamier, zesty texture. If you’re a beginner to drinking wine, white wine might be good start because it tends to have a lighter taste. Rose is not often talked about, yet it has a great taste, and it’s an interesting blend of white and red wine. You have, of course, heard of champagne, but are you aware that only wine made in the French province of Champagne gets to be called like that? Other brands that don’t come from France make something similar, but it’s called simply sparkling wine. The last, but certainly not the least, is fortified wine, and it’s a wine with distilled spirits added into it. Wines like port, sherry and marsala are the types you’ve probably heard about before.
GUIDE TO WINE – SOME TERMINOLOGY
Italy and France are the two countries that have the highest annual production of wine, and most of the wine comes from these places. What’s interesting is that this drink has origins in the ancient world, and the oldest known instance is known to be from ancient Armenia. When it comes to terminology, you don’t really need to know most of it. Unless you’re a wine taster, or an extreme wine enthusiast, you probably won’t use it. After all, these people taste things for a living, and it requires years of practice and a refined palette to really be able to tell some of the more subtle differences. What you want to know about, however, are some simple things, like the fact that when someone talks about aroma, they really mean the smell of wine. The body is the weight, or rather how the drink feels in your mouth, and the finish is an aftertaste left in your mouth after you swallow. A bouquet is merely an aroma of well-aged wine, and if you want to talk more about the taste then remember that dry means simply not-sweet, and that jammy can mean a jam like sweetness. There are many different grape varieties and ways to make wine, and if you want to learn more, Cracka offers a great wine library page, where you can do more research.
GUIDE TO WINE – HOW TO TASTE IT
Different wines need to be served at different temperatures, where you want your white and sparkling wine to be cool, and your red to be a little closer to room temperature. Pour a small amount into a glass and then swirl it around gently for a few seconds. This will release ethers, esters and aldehydes and once they combine with oxygen, they’ll give the wine a better, fuller smell. Lean in to inhale that smell and make sure to smell it more than once to identify more of the characteristics. When you finally taste the wine, hold it in your mouth for a second before you swallow it, and then think about whether the wine is bitter, sweet, tart, does it feel too astringent, what kind of an aftertaste does it leave. The point is, take your time to savor it and really think about the taste.
GUIDE TO WINE – HOW TO MATCH IT WITH FOOD
Red wine, especially cabernet sauvignon and merlot are excellent when paired with red meat, pork, pasta and pizza – a lot of salty food works quite well with this wine. White wine such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc go well with various types of fish and poultry. A Riesling is a good match for simple fruit salads, but it goes great with Asian food and various types of cheeses as well. Port is excellent when served as an aperitif, and it also goes very well with cheese, especially sweet port, because it gives it that contrasting taste and makes for a unique experience.
Wine is something that can be deeply personal to someone, and if you want to become more knowledgeable about this drink, the best thing you can do is experiment. Cook different meals and then taste various wines with them, and you’ll find your perfect combo.