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There are so many factors to think about when deciding on the wine you want to buy next. There is an enormous range of different grapes, vintages, types of wine and pairings. Wine is a living drink and every occasion requires a different wine. There are wines that have a soft flavor and others that are very intense, replete with fruity aromas and different color notes. Choosing the correct wine for a particular occasion can be a challenge.
For the uninitiated, or for those who simply want to enjoy a nice wine without having to take an oenology course, there are so many excellent options available on the market. However, before making your choice, you should have a decent understanding of the fundamental aspects of wine. If you really want to find the best wine to suit your preferences and your budget, keep reading!
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about wine
- 2.1 What is wine?
- 2.2 What types of wines exist and which one should I buy?
- 2.3 What are tannins?
- 2.4 What are sulfites?
- 2.5 What is a varietal wine?
- 2.6 Do wines need to be cooled?
- 2.7 How should wine be stored?
- 2.8 Is the vintage of a wine important?
- 2.9 What exactly does aeration do to wine?
- 2.10 What is decanting?
- 3 Shopping Criteria
- 4 Summary
- Wine is extremely delicate. Temperature, humidity, direct sunlight and environmental factors can alter its taste and quality.
- Wine should always be kept lying on its side, so that the liquid touches the cork – preventing it from drying out. Once the bottle is opened, the wine will begin to oxygenate. Oxygenation alters the taste of wine. This process is especially beneficial for young wines, but less so for older ones.
- The vintage and the country of origin will be the biggest influencing factors on the quality and characteristics of the wine.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about wine
Wine is the alcoholic beverage with the oldest established tradition and history. It is the ideal accompaniment for food and part of any fabulous meal. In this section, we answer the most frequently asked questions from users, so that you have a better appreciation of this beverage and have all the information you need to make a great purchase.
What is wine?
Wine is the name given to the liquid resulting from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of grape juice, without the addition of any other substance. Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks made by humans, with evidence of wine consumption dating back to the Neolithic period.
Wine is either sparkling or still. Sparkling wine, was commonly known as champagne until this name was reserved only for wine from the region of Champagne, France, which is just outside of Paris. So all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne. Think of the term champagne as a reference to a wine growing region, not a type of wine.
What types of wines exist and which one should I buy?
In addition to color, another factor that distinguishes different types of wines, is the grape variety. Different varieties produce their own particular nuances, aromas and flavors. Age is another important consideration, as wines are a living drink their taste and properties change over time. Young wines are consumed only six months after they are produced.
To make this information a little easier to understand, we have prepared the following table:
|By color|| White: Made without grape skins, only juice. From white grapes.
Rosé: Is fermented just like white wine. The desired color is obtained during maceration.
Red: Made with grape skins and juice. The skins, seeds and crushed grapes create the anthocyanins and the tannins in the wine.
|By sugar content|| Dry: When the total acid content of tartaric acid per liter is less than 2 grams lower than the residual sugar content.
Semi-dry: When the total acid content expressed in grams of tartaric acid per liter is not more than 10 grams less than the residual sugar content.
Semi-sweet: When the total acid content expressed in grams of tartaric acid per liter is not more than 10 grams higher than the residual sugar content.
Sweet: When the total acid content expressed in grams of tartaric acid per liter is not more than 40 grams less than the residual sugar content.
|By age|| Young: Wine that is consumed the same year it is produced, after spending only six months in the bottle.
Crianza: Aged for two years – one year in a barrel and one year in the bottle.
Reserva. Aged for three years – two years in a barrel and one year in the bottle.
Gran Reserva. These wines are aged for two years in a barrel and another three years in the bottle.
|By the content of carbonic acid|| Still wine: These wines are not carbonated or only contain a residual amount of gas.
Sparkling wine: Carbonated wine, easily recognizable by its characteristic bubbles. The maximum pressure for these wines should not exceed 90 PSI. The gas can be natural, created during fermentation, or added.
|By its method of production|| Carbonic maceration: A classic method of producing Rioja and fruity wines such as Beaujolais.
Vintage:When the grapes are picked late in the season, they usually produce sweet wines, since the grape is dehydrated and contains a lot of sugar.
Non-vintage: Wine produced from a mixture of grapes harvested from different seasons.
What are tannins?
The ageing and softening of tannins is one of the most important processes in the production of wine, as it is one of the main factors influencing the quality of the final product. Tannins are composed of polyphenol and other elements responsible for the color of the wine and the presence of anthocyanins, which are found in reds and rosés. Over time they fall to the bottom of the bottle and form part of the sediment.
What are sulfites?
An excess of sulphites in the wine also worsens the quality, making it lose its color, develop a fairly rancid odor and also cause the taste to deteriorate. If the wine contains a level of sulphites above 10 parts per million (ppm), it must be indicated on the wine label. Sulfites have allergenic properties and can affect people with asthma.
What is a varietal wine?
This is a table of some of the most common grape varieties used to produce red wine:
|Type of wine||Variety of strains|
|Red||Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tannat y Malbec. Also, Bonarda, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Carmenere. Finally, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Marselan, Pinot Noir, Carignan y Cinsaunt.|
|White||Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillón, Torrontés and Pedro Ximenéz. Other strains are Riesling, Viognier and Chenin Blanc.|
|Rosé||Pinot Gris, Syrah, Gewüztraminer and Canarí.|
Do wines need to be cooled?
At a higher temperatures the aroma evaporates more quickly and there is also an increase of acidic flavors. A lower temperature will eliminate the olfactory capacity, and you will notice a fuller body and the astringency of the tannins. A cool temperature moderates the excess of sugar (and therefore the level of alcohol), as well as the bitterness of the tannins.
There are specially designed wine fridges, which are a great way for keeping your wine stored at the perfect temperature. If you are serious about wine, this could be a worthwhile investment.
The following table shows the ideal temperature for the most common types of wine on the market:
|Type of wine||Ideal temperature|
|Sweet white||Between 39-45º|
|Young dry white||Between 42-46º|
|Barrel-aged white||Between 48-54º|
|Rosé||Between 9 y 12º|
|Young red||Between 54-59º|
|Aged red||Between 59-63º|
|Red Reserva or Gran Reserva||Between 60-64º|
How should wine be stored?
Abrupt temperature changes can be very detrimental to wine, however you also need to make sure that it is not subject to major seasonal changes in temperature. Low humidity can dry out the cork, while an excess can create bacteria or mold. Bottles should always be stored horizontally, so that the cork remains moist.
Is the vintage of a wine important?
The vintage is important but keep in mind that within the same vintage, the quality can vary depending on the amount of care taken in growing the grapes at a particular vineyard. It is an important factor, but far from decisive. US wine labeling laws require that at least 95% of the grapes used must be of the same vintage year for it to appear on the wine label.
What exactly does aeration do to wine?
It is important to decide whether it is a good idea to aerate a bottle of wine. It will depend largely on your experience with the specific wine, your personal taste and how soon you want to drink it. Old and fragile wines lose most of their aroma when they are oxygenated. However, young wines will definitely benefit from this process.
What is decanting?
To correctly perform decantation, it is recommended that the bottle has been standing upright for at least 24 hours. Once the bottle is opened, you need to pour the wine into the decanter with a continuous and smooth movement – leaving the sediment in the bottle. While pouring you should hold the neck of the bottle up against the light, so you can see when the sediment has reached the top.
Choosing a great bottle of wine is not a simple task, especially if you are not a vintner (winemaker) or sommelier (wine expert). There are many factors to keep in mind that will affect the taste, aroma and quality of the wine. Remember to take your time, there are many wines from many different wineries on the market. If you want to choose a quality wine, just follow these criteria:
- Type of wine
- Variety of grape
- Ecological wine
- Aging process
- Trusted wineries
- Alcohol content
Type of wine
You already know that there are many types of wines available on the market, so it is important to know which one you should choose. The first thing is to think about is whether you want a red, white or rosé. In addition to your personal taste, when choosing between different types of wine, you should also take into account what it will be accompanying. Particular types of meals are best paired with a specific wine.
Red wines match very well with any kind of meat and cheese. Older reds, such as reserves, match best with meat that has an intense flavor – such as grilled and game meats. White wines are perfect for rice and fish, while rosés are best when paired with light meals and appetizers.
The vintage is one of the factors that will determine the quality of a particular wine. Some years produce significantly better wine than others. The vintage is the year in which the grapes were harvested and the fermentation process began. The quality of the vintage is effected by the weather of the region where the vineyard is located, and any possible diseases that may have afflicted the crops that season.
Poor quality vintages do sometimes improve as they age in a barrel or bottle. Additionally, the care taken by the winemaker during the cultivation and production stages, will also have a positive or negative effect on the quality of the vintage.
Variety of grape
The grape variety used in the production of a type of wine, is another factor that can give you more information about the quality of the wine. Wine can be varietal, meaning that it has been made with a single grape variety (or with a concentration of at least 85%), or multi-varietal when it is made with two or more types of grapes.
Although it is not a huge factor, the variety of grape used to produce a particular wine does influence the personal taste of the consumer. If you, or the person for whom you are buying wine, have a preference, you should always choose a varietal wine or that contains that grape variety.
Organic wine is made from grapes grown following organic farming techniques, and without the use of chemicals to fertilize the vineyards, or to treat pests or diseases. Organic farming improves the biodiversity of the vineyard, preventing pests, while also helping the vines to grow strong.
Organic wines have qualities and traits characteristic of the land on which they are cultivated, something that conventional wines have lost. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides alter the character of the grapes, so that all wines seem to end up tasting the same and lose the personality of the area where they were produced.
A good wine, that has been aged properly for many years in the bottle, will always be better than a young or vintage wine. However, an old wine may not be the most appropriate, and not just because it might be more expensive. Aging alters the flavor and characteristics of wine, so keep this in mind when thinking about pairing.
The aging process also varies between different winemakers. Some use stricter criteria than others and may decide to label their wines differently.
Some wineries are famous, names like Chateau Montelena or Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou are known to all wine lovers. These wineries have won the trust of consumers by producing high quality wines, over many years. They follow very strict guidelines when cultivating their grapes, and strive to maintain high quality standards.
A good tip is to think about wineries that produce some of the wines you already like, and make a list. It is possible that, over time, your tastes will vary, so you should know which wineries make the wines that you like. Of course, this is totally optional and not a determining factor, but is worth keeping in mind.
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Last couple of days tasting our way around the Willamette Valley. This time popping into random vineyards on our travel north towards portland. Best pinots have been found on these days, along with the odd gris and reisling. Very enjoyable trip and definitely recommended. But now time to refresh my palate with a cold beer at the baseball! ????#pinot #pinotnoir #chardonnay #pinotgris #reisling #oregon #pnw #roadtrip #willamettevalley #winenot #winestagram #winetours #usa #usawine #holiday #whosewineisitanyway #prettyflyforawineguy #tryinghard #Tryhardwineguys #redwineandblue
On the label of the bottle you can find out about the body, or the softness of a wine. This is the alcohol content. For example, wine that has an alcohol content over 14% is full-bodied, while wine with a lower alcohol content is considered as soft, or light-bodied. This is a big factor that could influence your purchase.
It is important that you check the alcohol content before buying wine. At the same time, you should remember to check for the presence of sulphites. If the wine contains high levels of this chemical it must be indicated on the label, as it is an allergen that can be harmful to certain people.
Everyone has their own personal taste when it comes to wine. Choosing a great bottle of wine is not easy, as there are so many factors that affect its flavor, aroma and overall quality. Wine is a living substance and is susceptible to heat, sunlight and humidity. Wine is the perfect drink to accompany your meals, and to share with your friends.
Choosing wine is an art form. As we have mentioned previously in this article, there are a variety of factors that you should keep in mind, such as the vintage, the type of wine, the food you will pair with it and your personal taste. If you don’t want to go wrong, just follow our buying guide and choose the wine that’s best for you.
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