In the past, wine was reserved for those people who lived in the rarified air of wealth and privilege. Artists painted pictures of people of wealth drinking and making merry. You may have never thought you would need to know about wine at all. However, many people today drink and enjoy wine. In fact, wine has become a regular feature at dinner tables and dinner parties. It is also a large part of some Mediterranean cultures, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain.
You have been thinking about taking wine as a host gift, or serving some at the next family gathering. The trick is which wine is right for the occasion? Do you have to pay a lot of money to get a good glass of wine? We have the answers for you right here.
First, the Basics
No matter which path you decide to take where wine is concerned, it is important that you know the facts, or the basics of good wine. There are some things you need to know about wine before you can begin to pick bottles of wine for use. Although you may have to taste many wines before you know for sure which wines are for you, it is helpful to have a starting point. Here are some characteristics of wines:
- Wine labels discuss the words sweet, semi-sweet, or dry. While sweet wines do have a sweeter taste, dry wines are not sweet at all. If you do not have a sweet tooth, you may want to try a semi-sweet wine.
- Look at the acidity in the wine. If you like tart drinks, you may want to try a wine with higher acidity content. If you prefer a richer, less tart drink, you will want to try low-acidity wines.
- You may have heard a lot about tannins. Many health care professionals think that tannins are good for your circulatory system. Tannins are compounds found in grape skins. You need to know that red wines have more tannins than white or rose wines, which makes most red wines drier than white. However, many people are able to find a red wine they like, regardless of the presence of tannins.
- Wines can be light-bodied, full-bodied, or medium. The “body” of the wine describes how heavy a sip of wine feels in your mouth. Red wines tend to be more full-bodied than white wines, and grapes grown in warmer climates tend to be more full-bodied than grapes grown in cooler climes.
- Alcohol content in wines differs from wine to wine. If the alcohol content matters to you, you may want to check the label. Wine (as measured by alcohol by volume) contain between 5.5% and 20% of alcohol.
Tips for the Newbie Wine Picker
Now that you know the basics for picking a wine, you need to start trying to pick out a few bottles yourself. Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions:
- Try picking a white or rose wine for starters. Most people like a sweet white or a glass of sweet rose wine for starters, when they are unfamiliar with all wine has to offer. Usually, if you pick a white or a rose, you are then able to move into darker wines over time as you grow more confident in your wine choices. If people begin by selecting red wine, most people who are inexperienced with wine find the red too bitter for them. If you are going to a party, why not take a sweet white wine or a rose? It is bound to liven up any gathering.
- If you are not a sweet tooth, and you hate the idea of trying a sweet wine, why not try a dry white or rose, because they are lighter-bodied and are a good alternative to the sweet.
- Whether you are picking for yourself or for others, consider their preferences. For example, if you (or your friends love) apples over grapefruit, they will most likely prefer a sweeter wine. Grapefruit lovers seem to adore dry wines. If your friends are coffee drinkers, you may want to try a wine produced in Europe, especially if they love their coffee black. If you add a ton of cream and sugar to your coffee, try a wine from South Africa, Australia, or the US.
- If you are unsure, you can always bring a bottle of sweet white or rose, and a bottle of red to your next gathering or as a party gift. That way everyone will be happy.
Pairing with Food
One of the reasons people want to get better at wine selection is to prepare to serve the right wine with the right food. There are some foods that pair better with certain types of wine. If the thought of choosing a wine to pair with food leaves you cold, have no fear. We have some suggestions. You can follow these suggestions in general when you are just starting to pick out wines. You also might want to think about whether you will be using the wine as a cocktail. If the wine is going to be used as a cocktail, the flavors of the wine are not as noticeable. You can think about cutting your costs on wine to be used in cocktails as well. 884
First, there is a general rule you can begin with. If you are cooking chicken, duck, turkey or fish, these pairs well with white wines. If you are cooking beef, lamb, or pork, these pairs better with red wines.
Second, ignore pretty detailing and labeling. The vineyards package their wine in order for the package to be attractive for you. Ignore it. You also need to ignore price. There are some good wines available in the $20 range as well as some bad wines that are $50. Go with the taste of the wine, rather than whether or not it has a cork, or a fancy package. If the wine tastes good to you, then drink it.
If you are eating acidic foods, such as a salad with many citruses, or a fishmeal, you will want to pair that meal with a wine that is also high in acidity. If you choose a wine that is low in acidity, you will find that the acidity of your dinner overpowers the wine, rather than pairing with the wine. If that happens, you will not know whether the wine you chose is good for your palate or not.
If you are serving a salty dish, think about pairing it with a sweet wine. Just as many people like the salty/sweet combination of food, it is also good with food and wine. Sweet wines are also great if you added a little too much salt to your meal, as the sweetness of the wine would cut down on the saltiness of the food.
If you are going to serve a dish high in fat and calories, you will want to try a bitter wine, or a wine that is higher in acidity. Think about a dry white wine with a lobster dipped in butter—the acidity in the wine cuts the feat in the meal. Red wines with a high alcohol content and high acidity go well with Kobe steak as well.
As a final word, do not be afraid to stretch out and try new things. You may be surprised by what you find.
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