There’s a difference between being a true wine lover and someone who likes to drink wine every once in a while. Part of the fun of being a true wine-lover is the constant learning experience that comes with trying all sorts of wine. With the wealth of information about wine that exists, it’s easy to become your own personal sommelier (in other words, a wine steward with professional training) or simply to impress your friends at a social gathering. Read below to learn some basic wine terms and unspoken rules.
Holding the wine Glass
Hold red wine by the bowl of the glass and white wine by the stem. The warmth of your hand would raise the temperature of the white wine and alter the taste. This is not the case with red wines, which are typically stored at a higher temperature than white wine.
When talking about a wine’s body, there are many varieties you could consider. In general, white wines are usually light-bodied and red are usually medium or full-bodied. However, the body of a particular wine usually comes down to alcohol content. The more alcohol there is in a wine, the heavier it feels in your mouth, and vice versa. Wines with alcohol levels above 13.5% are typically considered full-bodied, wines with 12.5-13.5% are medium-bodied, and and wines under 12.5% alcohol are light-bodied.
Be sure to drink lighter wines 3 days after opening. Bolder wines can last up to 10 days. To be more specific, white wines last only 1 to 3 days, while red wines can last 1 to 2 weeks. If you need to store opened wine, the best way to ensure that you are getting the most shelf life out of it is to refrigerate it with its original cork or with a tight-fitting bottle stopper. To serve red wine after this point, simply take the bottle out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before drinking.
Wine legs do not indicate the quality of a wine. To figure out what kind of “legs” your wine has, swirl your glass and observe the droplets running down the sides after you stop swirling. Are there a lot of droplets, or few? How long does it take them to slide down the side of a glass? A higher density of water droplets indicates a higher alcohol level in your wine, and slow-flowing droplets indicate a sweeter wine. So really, your wine’s legs indicate whether your wine is high in alcohol content and/or high in sugar content.
*an extra tip to remember is that humidity and the temperature of a room can affect the rate at which your wine’s legs form*
All you really need to know about tannins, that elusive word used frequently in the wine world, is that they are a textural element of the wine that makes it taste dry (and we don’t mean “dry” as in no sugar, we mean the feeling of dryness in your mouth). If you want to learn more about tannins, check out Vinepair.com’s guide to tannins.
The real meaning of “dry” wine
When a wine is described as being “dry,” it simply means that the wine has no residual sugar in it (it does NOT mean that the wine makes your mouth feel dry). When wine ferments, alcohol is produced as the yeast eats the sugar present in the mixture. If the yeast is allowed to consume all of the sugar, then this wine is considered dry. Of course, wines can be semi-dry or sweet as well, depending on how long the fermentation process is allowed to go on.
Believe it or not, the shape of your wine glass can alter the taste of your wine! This is due to olfactory — in other words, your sense of smell determines the taste of the wine. Some wine glasses are designed to capture the aromas of a wine perfectly, which is turn will affect the taste. If you’re just starting out, however, there’s no need to run out and buy every kind of wine glass on the market. Experiment with different wine glasses to see which ones you like best with your preferred wines! However, you can always start out with a set of red wine glasses and progress from there. If you want to learn more about how to properly taste wine, check out our blog post here!
You are now equipped with the basic knowledge that every wine-lover should have. Use it wisely!