Blog – Tasting 101
INTRODUCTION TO TASTING 101
Tasting 101 will always appear on the Vino Noire site, as our primary mission is to educate the inquiring wine consumer. The VN team intends to expand your knowledge of wine by starting with the most basic concepts of wine and expand over time. In each Tasting 101 article, we will increase your knowledge of wine. You will notice words in bold italics. If you’re not already a wine enthusiast, you may not know there meaning. No worries, these terms will be defined in the Glossary following the posts where they appear.
Distinguishing and determining what vintages most appeal to you is an individual journey and we relish the opportunity to be your tour guides through the world of wine. The four major categories of wine include, red, white, rose, and sparkling/champagne. Stick with us; we will cover all of these as time unfolds. Occasionally, we will throw in some more advanced themes for those members of our Cru Vin Society that have more refined palettes. As time progresses, we will engage all of your senses and expand your appreciation of good quality wines (cru vino)!
Does It Really Matter if You’re Red or White?
So, let’s get down to the basics and answer the simple question, “Does it really matter if you’re Red or White?” The truth of the matter is that there are incredibly good tasting wines in both the red and white categories. You may also hear a red and white referred to as sweet or dry. A dry liquid sounds like an oxymoron;. suffice it to say that dry is the opposite of sweet, novices with limited exposure to wine are most likely to prefer a sweet and/or white wine.
Here at VN we embrace red and white wines and we encourage you to do the same. We will be providing you with suggestions for red and white wines, so we can watch you fall in love with reds, as well as white wines as your palates evolve over time!
Color is the first and easiest distinguishable feature of a wine. However, as you might imagine, the answer to the red vs. white paradox is not as straight forward as you may think. The world of wine gets very complex once you get past the color of a varietal. Generally, most believe that white wine comes from green grapes and red wine from red grapes; the truth of the matter is that the inside of all grapes is essentially colorless. So, a white wine can in fact come from green or red grapes, as long as the juice does not come in contact with the skins!
The red color in wine comes from allowing the fleshy interior of the grapes, also known as the pulp, to come in contact with the grape’s skin when it’s being crushed. The longer the grape juice stays in contact with the skins the darker the color of the finished wine will be. In addition to darker colored wines the longer skins, seeds, and/or stems, stay in contact with the grape juice the more tannic the wine becomes.
Tannin is a substance that gives red wine its structure; it acts as a naturally occurring preservative in grapes and in other fruits and plants (like tea, for example). The taste of tannin is often described as bitter, causing a dry and “puckery” feeling in the mouth. Their extraction is heavily dependent on the particular winemaking process involved. Some tannin also comes from oak barrel, particularly new ones, used to age wine. So, when you taste bold red wines that really sock it to you, then the tannins are partially to blame along with the overall winemaking process used by the vintner during fermentation!
Whites wines, on the other hand, are basically tannin free, because the juice to grape skin, seeds, and stem contact is non-existent, thus eliminating the tannins.
So, why does all of this really matter? Isn’t the point of consuming cru vino to simply enjoy it? Why of course, that is precisely the point! The most basic rule of thumb is to complement the characteristics of food to wine, or counterbalance overwhelming characteristics. White wines tend to be best paired with fish, seafood and chicken, while red wines go best with “chewy” meats like beef and/or lamb and red sauces. However, bear in mind that these rules of thumb were developed because wine should harmonize with and complement fine dining. Remember the ultimate decision is yours choose what you enjoy drinking be it Red or White!
This first installation of Tasting 101 clearly scratches the surface. We have so much more to share with you, including on-line Q&A with Glynis and other wine and food enthusiasts. We hope that you will continue to visit us as we embark upon this wine Odyssey!
Vino Noire September 9, 2012 Blog - Tasting 101