Wine comes in all forms and flavors. And that can be scary. Today dozens of countries produce wine and bottles can go from a few £s to a few hundred £s. There’s no better way of learning about wine than popping open some bottles, but we thought an essential wine guide is the best way to get your foot in the door and peek inside the wonderful world of wine.
We can classify wine in many ways: sweet or dry, cheap or expensive, easy-to-drink or contemplative. But it’s generally accepted to organize it by its color.
White wines are underrated, the more you learn about wine, the more you lean towards whites. They are versatile at the table, refreshing and are more complex than you think.
There are basically two types of white wine, those that are made to enjoy now, and those who are meant for special occasions. The difference is not in the way they are made, but how they are aged.
Uncomplicated whites are made in a matter of weeks, examples are Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. They often show a crisp acidity and a fruity nose. Most of them are dry (no sugar) and pair best with light food like white fish, sushi and vegetables.
When these wines are aged for a few months in oak barrels, they gain complexity, richness and a very characteristic creaminess. Chardonnay is made in this style more often than not. These wines are still dry, but they are unctuous and elegant. They can be a bit more expensive too. They pair best with poultry, creamy sauces and fatty fish.
When in doubt, ask for a barrel-aged white or an un-oaked bottle, depending on the menu.
Did you know some white wines can withstand the test of time? White Burgundies, High-end German Rieslings, and a few Australian Semillons are best enjoyed after ten years!
Rosé is always trending. And no, it’s not a girly drink. Actually, most rosé is bone dry and tastes very similar to un-oaked whites. The difference is in its flavors and aromas; they taste like red berries, and who doesn’t like that?
Wineries make rosé from red grapes, but the juice is rested briefly with the inky grape skins, which give color. Enjoy these wines young and pair them with salads, light pasta and seafood. Of course, there are sweet pink wines out there, but ask before you buy.
Did you know the best rosé comes from southern France? Provence produces the most exciting wines in the category, and they’re not expensive at all.
Red wine gets its color from the grape skins, these give the wine its flavor and its gritty texture too. But red wines can differ greatly from each other. Some are fruity, and some are earthy. Some are young while others age in barrels for several years before hitting the market. European reds taste different from those of the new world, and all of this makes understanding red wine a bit harder.
A good start is to focus on the wine’s body. Light-bodied reds, like Pinot Noir, are fresh and easy but don’t be fooled by their light color, they can give great pleasure. Sturdier wines like Cabernet Sauvignon can be a tough chew, especially if you don’t drink them with food.
Light-bodied reds pair well with salmon and braised meat, for example, while full-bodied reds play nicely with grilled meat and fatty food like duck.
Did you know Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape in the world?
You’ll have to try quite a few different bottles of wine before you find your favorite ones, but that’s not too bad, is it?