So you like wine but don’t know much about it? If you want to be able to tell the difference between a cheap bottle of plonk and a classy affair or you want to impress at the next dinner party, then it’s time you got up to speed on your wine knowledge. We can all tell the difference between a red and a white but aside from the colour, what makes them different? For an Online wine merchants in Northern Ireland, visit http://thewinecompanyni.com/.
The skins of the grape are what make the most impact and a substance called tannin. Tannins occur naturally in grapes and other plants, like tea. Tannin is a bitter taste but it ends up in the wine as the vintner allows the skins to sit in the grape juice during the fermenting process. This is how the wine gets its colour. Pink or white wines have virtually no tannins as they are not left with the skins for a long time, if at all. This is why red wine is a bit more bitter than white and the tannins also give it a thicker texture. The darker the wine, the more tannins there will be. Reds come in the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec, Barbera, Sangiovese, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
White wines are more acidic and tart and come in varieties including: Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat, Pinot Grigio and Gewurztraminer. Rose or blush wine has a little skin contact with red grapes but is closer to a white in its levels of tannins. One of the reasons why red wine is not served cold is that the tannins tend to get very bitter when chilled.
Wines that have an alcohol content of less than 14% are considered ‘table’ or ‘light’ wines. Sparkling wine is treated with carbonation which can occur naturally during fermentation or with adding carbon dioxide. When choosing a sparkling wine you will need to check whether you want a dry or sweet wine. Sparkling wine can be made from a variety of both red and white grapes and proper Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
Different varieties of wine are often named after the grape variety the wine was made from, for example a Merlot contains mostly Merlot grapes. Most rules state that there must be about 75% of that grape to call it a wine made from it. It is normally too much to remember and you’re unlikely to know how to order wine from a menu and know how it will taste based on where it’s from, its vintage and how it was produced etc. It’s best just to work on taste which can be broken down into the following:
Sweetness – the opposite of this is dry. A wine can also be medium dry which means there is a bit of sweetness too.
Acidity – a big deal with white wines and can make them refreshing and crisp.
Tannins – as mentioned, lower tannin makes the wine soft and smooth, higher makes it a bit on the bitter side. It all depends on your taste.
Body – the perceived weight of the wine and how thick it feels in the mouth. Full bodied is thick and coats the glass, a light bodied is very runny and a medium is in between.