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The Wine Guide: Details on Tastings, Types, Cost & More

25 Jul 2018

Wine is intimidating. The cult of snobbery around it is so pervasive in pop culture that you can end up feeling like you need a wine guide just to walk into your local wine bar. But all that anxiety is really just in your head! A good glass of wine can feel as unfussy as a pint from any pub if you arm yourself with just a little information.

 

Instead of hyperventilating over your word choice when you try to describe a chardonnay or panicking when you realise you have no idea what a carménère even is, relax! Our little wine guide will answer all of your burning questions about wine pairing and even wine prices, giving you the confidence boost you need.

 

The most common types of wine

There might be dozens of types of wine, but there's a handful that is typically among the most common, so we broke them all down for you below:

Wine Type

Red or White?

Notable Growing Regions

Flavour Profile

Cabernet Sauvignon

Red

Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sonoma County

Ranges from vegetal and minty to jammy

Merlot

Red

Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Chilean Central Valley

Full-bodied with plum and blackberry notes

Pinor Noir

Red

Burgundy; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Walker Bay, South Africa

Fruit-forward with cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry flavors prominent

Chardonnay

White

Burgundy; Adelaide Hills, Australia; Central Coast of California

Range from citrusy and crisp to buttery and oaky

Sauvignon Blanc

White

Bordeaux; South Africa; Marlborough, New Zealand

Lime, green apple, and flowery peach notes

Riesling

White

Rhine Valley, Germany; Clare Valley, Australia; Finger Lakes, New York

Crisp, citrusy, and often sweet or semisweet

Rosé

Rosé

Provence, France; Rioja, Spain; Sonoma County, California

Red fruit, melon, rhubarb (varies greatly by region and grapes used)

Sparkling

White or rosé

France (Champagne); Spain (Cava); Portugal (Espumante)

Ranges from crisp and dry to subtle and sweet (varies greatly by region and grapes used)

 

How to pair wine with food

To pair wine with food, consider three main things: the course you're pairing it with, the main flavours of the dish, and what you like. Often, sparkling wines and rosés pair with simple entrees, whites pair with seafood, reds pair with red meat, and dessert wines are obvious. But here are a few more tips to help you decide:

  • Save sweeter and lower alcohol wines (e.g. riesling, zinfandel) for spicy foods to help balance the heat.
  • With lighter meat like pork and chicken, pair your wine with the sauce (e.g. a bold red with a barbecue sauce, chardonnay with a light leek sauce).
  • When in doubt, always fall back on what you actually enjoy; don't get a malbec you hate just because it's supposed to pair well with a dish!

 

How much should a good bottle of wine cost?

Wine prices may vary, but the sweet spot for most casual drinkers is around £7 in shops. Less than that, and it's not that you won't be able to find wines you love, but that it will be harder.

  • Many experts say that you shouldn't pay more than £15 per bottle because you're more likely to be paying for the prestige of the label or region than the actual quality.
  • Save even more by buying in bulk or subscribing to a wine club that'll ship bottles directly to you.

What are some common wine-tasting terms?

Wine-tasting terms vary and you shouldn't feel compelled to stick to them, but knowing a few can help give you a handle on describing your favourites. Check out the most common terms below:

  • Balanced: no note of the wine (acidity, sweetness, etc.) stands out above another
  • Buttery: a rich, creamy mouthfeel
  • Crisp: a delightful sense of acidity (think crisp green apple)
  • Dry: the opposite of sweet in wine terminology
  • Jammy: rich fruit flavour often without the drying sensation associated with tannins
  • Oaky: notes of oak from the wine's barrel as well as other flavours like vanilla or nutmeg
  • Spicy: strong sense of flavours like pepper or cinnamon (think malbecs and syrahs)

 


 

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