It never hurts to be a little more educated (or reeducated) about wine basics, no matter your age or what your favorite wines are. I enjoy expanding my wine repertoire and trying new varietals now and then. For most of my adult life, I’ve enjoyed both red and white, but lately, I’m in a sparkling frame of mind…after all, Champagne is always a good idea!
If you subscribe to Wine Spectator and/or are a Sommelier, I’m sorry but you will not like what I have to say here, thanks for stopping in!
So here goes. After reading this, consider yourself educated “enough” to make it through the wine store (not just buying wine because of the fun label) and get you through a complicated wine list! I also hope I get you to thinking of wine in a different way.
What do I need to know about choosing a wine?
Learn your wine boundaries, and I’m not talking about how many glasses. Figure out the flavors and finishes in wines that you really like.
As in any kind of sales talk, you can bet your wallet that what tastes good, and what you love should be the essence of choosing wines, but you won’t hear that from a Vintner. Centuries of wine making, technical advances and a very crowded wine brand marketplace have led to cutthroat means to secure your purchase…(including crazy labels, canned wines, other packaging methods).
Living Le Dolce Vita means enjoying, in the moment. Don’t you want to love the taste or what you are drinking? To me, this is Wine 101!!
Pay attention when you sip a wine. Even if it’s your regular bottle of Yes Way, Rose’, or the newest canned Chardonnay. Be honest about how the flavor hits your tongue, and how it tastes when swallowed. Then what are the flavor notes you are picking up? Do you really love it? Some common “wine note” words are: Fruit forward, hints of spices, smoky finish, dry; buttery, wood enhanced, hints of vanilla and cherry, you get the drift! Don’t drink something just purely because it’s a habit to get that go to brand and varietal! Regardless of the price, all that matters, again, is that YOU like the notes and finish of the wine.
The more you narrow down your personal flavor profile, the easier it will be to pick wines that you will enjoy, something for a dinner party or when asked to choose wine for a meal out. Say to a waiter “I prefer a buttery Chardonnay” or “I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc that is grapefruit forward”….Know your wine boundaries!! Defining the flavors, finish, and type of wines you love is essential for living your best wine life.
Can you explain a little about each wine type, and what you like about each?
Wine can be classified into 5 types: red, white, rose’, sparkling and dessert.
Each of these “types” of wine have hundreds of different grapes (varietals) in their type! Therein lies the problem of going into varietal details! Did you know there are over 1,000 varietals of grapes in the world? They aren’t the kind you see at the grocery store, either; they are much smaller and most have seeds.
Made from white grape varietals and occasionally black grapes.
I love to have a glass of white wine on a warm sunny day, and this is the perfect end of day wine. That vibe is delicious to me! Just seeing my favorite Chardonnay in the store and then in my Lolita® glass of the moment reminds me of a pool, picnic, and pure pleasure (and is also my favorite for Girl Time!) Did you also know that white wine is fantastic for muscle pain? It will also generally help you relax more for sleep than reds and tends to not have as many sulfites, therefore not as hard on the bod. Great for after a workout in my book! I enjoy white wine during an evening out when dancing is involved or a lot of walking. It’s not quite as dehydrating as a Cabernet.
I love almost all red varietals, but especially a smooth Malbec.
Red wine is made from black grapes. There are hundreds of red wines out there! I love a smooth Red Blend (I find wine snobbery a little dated, there are SO many beautiful Red Blends on the market) all the while snuggled up by the fire with Lulu, and that’s my second glass after a romantic dinner with my Love. Red wine was my first wine love, even if it came from a box, or a giant bottle, lol. Over the years, I have gravitated to less heavy Cabs in favor of Red Zinfandels, Malbecs and Pinots. Red is known to have major health benefits for your heart and body, in moderation of course!
Made with a secondary fermentation process of mostly white grapes that make it bubbly….I adore a light white sparkling wine like Prosecco. With a side of oysters of course! The champagne varietal is my go-to of the moment, as it’s great for light day drinking and spritzes, and is very low in carbs (1 carb per glass). Perfect for almost any occasion.
Made from black grapes, which involves removing the skins before they stain the wine red, resulting in that beautiful blush shade of wine. Rose’ can be dry or sweet. Rose’ all day! Thoughts of summer picnics, pool parties, and polo matches come to mind. Fun in a glass! Great for sunny, warm afternoons anywhere, any time. I prefer a buttery, smooth rose’…but am very choosy here, as sometimes a rose’ packs a hefty punch as well because of its red grape origins.
Made involving fortifying wine with spirits. Personally, I have never really been a fan, most are too sweet for me and very heavy. But how do I know this? Because I’ve narrowed down my wine flavor palette, that’s how! I prefer a light red, like a Pinot, to be served with dessert. But, you may LOVE all of the choices here, Sherry, Port or Riesling, you can taste and find the right ones for you!
After all we’ve been through in the last three years, we know life is too short to be drinking a 40-year-old bottle of wine that tastes like crap! I dislike old corklike flavor, a wine that tastes like an old oak barrel, an unfinished red which sat under my kitchen sink for cooking for a while, or a Sauvignon Blanc that is grapefruit forward. I know what I like and don’t like! And it enhances my life!!
It is hard for me to go to dinner with a known wine snob because it usually involves an expensive wine that I won’t like. I know the price of wine doesn’t mean it will be good, nor will the label, varietal, or production qualities…. don’t get me wrong, if someone is willing to choose, through tasting and paying, I’m game to try it. On my own, I only order what I LOVE. I’m very descriptive to Sommeliers and waiters on my likes and dislikes with wine. Then I insist on a taste before investing in it.
Understanding what you LOVE and what flavors you really don’t like is everything in the wine realm.
Wine can add many benefits for a long, happy, and delicious life full of fun, girlfriends, family, relaxation, celebrations and delicious meals. Never hurts to learn, too.
Now you have my take on the whole arena of wine!!!! Go forth, wine, dine and dance, and celebrate every moment, with your wines of choice whenever you can, of course with your Lolita® glass! You’ll never be sorry you included wine in your life.
Don’t miss my next Wine 101 where I’ll go more in-depth on some wine history to wow your girlfriends!