Wine 101

November 20, 2013
By: Chris Troy


What is often thought of as the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, wine has been on the world stage since around 6000 BC. Wine has played a major role in every civilization since ancient Greece, has a prominent role in nearly every major world religion and varies in such great degrees from Boon’s Farm bum wine to Cristal Champagne – the former will get you drunk while the latter will get you laid.

All wine however, regardless of its effect on your wallet, is essentially fermented grape juice. Unlike beer or spirits, which require the addition of other sugars and enzymes in order to ferment, wine is made by simply adding various strains of yeast to crushed grapes. The yeast then consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol and, well, voila.

Wine Varieties

While there are three types of wine – white, rosé and red – there are plenty of varieties of those three. Some of the most popular varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir & Syrah Shiraz

Tasting Wine

Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Napa Valley any time soon, when you’re on your next date and the waiter asks if you would like to taste the bottle you just ordered, if you plan on the date going anywhere at all, you’d better look like you know what you’re doing. Thankfully, even if you don’t know a Cabernet from a Merlot, looking the part isn’t tough to do and tasting your wine is a pretty simple 4 step process.

Firstly, when the waiter pours your sample as your date looks on, note how the wine looks: tilt your glass away from you and check out the color of the wine. Not just red or white, but if it’s a red wine, is it maroon, purple, bright red, or even nearly brown? Also note the wine’s opacity; is it watery or dark, dull or bright, cloudy or clear? Secondly, how does the wine smell: gently swirl the wine in the glass (no, it’s not just for show, this is an important step – it helps to vaporize the wine’s alcohol and release some of the natural scents) and take a quick sniff to gain a first impression. Next, stick your nose deep into the glass and inhale fully; do you smell oak, berries, flowers, vanilla or citrus? It’s important to note that a wine’s aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality so you should know right away what you’re paying for and, most importantly, if she’ll be impressed. Thirdly, it’s time to taste your wine. Take a small sip and let the wine roll across your tongue, noting the initial impression the wine makes on your palate. See if you can decipher the flavor profile of the wine; if it’s a red wine, do you detect fruits such as berry or plum, spices   like pepper or clove, or wood like oak, cedar or smoke? If it’s a white wine, do you sense citrus, tropical, apple or pear flavors? Or possibly honey or butter? Lastly, the step called “the finish”. Essentially this phase is noting how long the flavors linger after the swallow. Do the flavors you discerned in the previous phase linger? Was the wine light in body or heavy? Do you want another sip?

Even if you don’t expect to ever become a true vinophile, knowing at least something about wine and wine varieties and appreciating how to properly taste what’s in front of you will go a long way toward impressing any date you order a bottle for. And isn’t that the name of the game?

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