Wine 101 – What You Need to Know
From cabernet to champagne, these are the key elements of every variety.
For those unfamiliar with wine, it can be challenging to know where to begin. While the beverage is typically categorised into Red, White, or Rosé, numerous varieties are available within each style, embodying unique flavour profiles and methods. Below is some fundamental knowledge to keep in mind for each type when selecting your wine of choice.
Red wine gets its dark colour, often deep red or purple, from the skin of the grapes used in its production. This inclusion creates an element called ‘tannin’, which gives red wine its uniquely dry, bold taste. The stronger the tannin in a bottle of red wine, the more pronounced this flavour is- varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, known as Cab Sav, and Shiraz are relatively high in tannin. However, if you prefer a more sweet, citrus flavour, Pinot Noir and Port may be better options for your palate.
With far fewer, if any, grape skins used in their creation, white wines are much more acidic and ‘crisp’ in taste. These can also vary in flavour intensity. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are generally considered more robust than Riesling or Moscato, often known as dessert wines due to their increased sweetness. Unlike red, white wine may also be carbonated, known as Sparkling wine. Champagne, one of the most popular white wines, is part of this classification.
A unique pink shade, the taste of rosé is overall more evocative of white wine than red. Its tannin levels are comparatively low, with only minimal grape skin contact being made, so the flavour is typically sweet with a hint of dryness- similar to a Pinot Grigio. Due to the lightness of body and sweetness, Rosé and white wines are commonly associated with warmer seasons, while the spice and ‘fullness’ of red wine tend to be paired with colder weather. Most venues will only carry a limited selection of Rosé varietals than the other two forms due to a smaller range of variations.
Have you been unsure where to begin to find your signature wine? Comparing your flavour preferences in food and other beverages to the varietals of wine will help you find your ideal pairing. There are many more varietals of each wine category on offer, so enjoy your journey one glass at a time.
By Adele Szaters