Wine Basics: 3 Things You Should Know About Wine By the Time You’re 30
If all you know about wine is that it’s either red or white, you’re ready to learn more—especially if you want to impress your friends or your date! Although there are hundreds of varieties of wine, there are an assortment of types that are the most popular. When you first start tasting wines, it’s helpful to start with the more common varieties, and then see what you enjoy. Here are three wine basics that you should know if you want to move from wine novice to wine connoisseur.
1. You Should Know the Different Types of Wine
Most wines are either sweet or dry. A wine falls into the latter category when all of the sugar is converted to alcohol. Popular white wines include:
- Chardonnay, which is dry, buttery, and smooth.
- Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris, which have dry, light, and crisp flavor notes.
- Sauvignon Blanc, with a dry, crisp, and refreshing profile.
- Riesling, which has undertones of sweet and fruity flavors.
Popular red wines include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry, full-bodied, complex, and fruity wine.
- Merlot, also a dry wine, is smooth and easy to drink.
- Shiraz or Syrah, which are dry and peppery.
- Pinot Noir, which is dry, light, crisp, and fruity.
The lighter and crisper the wine, the cooler it should be served. Most white wines should be served chilled at a temperature between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Heritage Vine. Red wines are best at just slightly below room temperature, between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
You may also encounter wines that are blends, which means that they are made up of a variety of different grapes. It’s likely that you’ll find more red blends than white blends.
There are hundreds of wine varieties for you to choose from.
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2. You Should Know How to Buy Wine
Wine varies in price from about $5 a bottle up to over $1,000 a bottle. You can use price as one determining factor when shopping for wines. However, a higher price tag doesn’t necessarily mean better wine. Once you determine your favorite wine varieties, you should browse the wine selection in your local liquor store.
When you’re shopping, you should see if the store has descriptions of the wine or rates them on a 100-point scale. According to Wine Spectator’s scale, wines that score between 90 and 100 are typically outstanding or classic varieties, while wines that score between 80 and 90 are generally good or very good wines.
Once you find a favorite wine, you may want to order a case of it, and store it in a wine rack, so you always have some on hand! You can get about four or five glasses of wine per bottle. According to Wine Folly, opened bottles of full-bodied white wine and red wine will last about three to five days when resealed with a cork. You should store white wine in the fridge and red wine in a cool, dark place.
3. You Should Know How to Pair Wine With Food
In an effort to enhance the wine drinking experience, you may want to pair wine with food. Generally, light wines go with light foods, heavy wines work best with heavy meals, and sweet wines pair nicely with desserts. Here are a few general guidelines to get you started:
- Chardonnay goes well with roast chicken, shrimp, lobster, salmon, or halibut with butter sauce.
- Pinot Grigio pairs with light fish.
- Sauvignon Blanc goes well with white meats and light fish.
- Riesling goes with appetizers or desserts, but it also works well with Asian and Mexican foods.
- Cabernet Sauvignon pairs nicely with all red meats.
- Merlot goes with cheese and grilled chicken or meat.
- Shiraz pairs nicely with roasted meats.
- Pinot Noir goes well with many foods, such as grilled chicken, grilled fish, and meals with cream sauces.
Some wines pair particularly well with fruit or dessert.
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Taking the time to learn these wine basics should be fun! Overall, it’s important to remember that you should simply choose a wine that you like to drink. Before you know it, you’ll be impressing your friends and family members with your knowledge of this beloved beverage.
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