Know Your Wine

It’s time to go back to the basics.

It’s always a good idea to take a minute or two to learn about something you’re passionate about. It’s an even better idea to take a minute or two to learn about something you want to be passionate about.

I get it, not everyone can be a wine connoisseur. Perhaps you opt for a nice cold Sam Adams instead of a glass of rose, or a martini over a dry white wine. Perhaps wine isn’t your thing. At least, it’s not your thing yet.

Whether you’re a senior citizen or a college student (who is over 21), it’s never too late to learn about wine, and what better a place to start than with the basics? This post will review the five most basic of the basic wine types: white, red, rose, sparkling and dessert wines.

White Wines

White wines are typically made of white grapes, though red or black grapes can, and are, used to produce white wines. The extraction and separation of the pigment when non-white grapes are used creates the white, yellow or golden tint to the drink.

White wines are broken down into two primary categories: dry and sweet. The dryer the wine, the more tart and sour it will be; Italian pinot grigio and macabeo will be found on the dryer side of the spectrum, while white ports and moscato trend towards the sweet side.

The dry tastes of a dry white wine originate from a combination of acidity, aroma and tannin present in dryer wines. Essentially, the fermentation process completely eliminates sugar from dry wines, leaving them without a sweet taste.  Sweet whites, on the other hand, have the fermentation process interrupted before it’s complete, leaving some of the sugars and contributing to the obviously sweeter taste.

Red Wines

Reds, like whites, are broken down into both dry and sweet, though the former is often broken down further into herbal dry and fruity dry.

The color range for red wine is fairly expansive, including anything from a deep violet color to an almost brick-red hue. Though the same (or similar) grapes used for white wines can be used to produce red wine, the difference in the hue and flavor comes primarily from the skins of the grapes, which give reds their distinct deep color.

Rosé Wines

Rosé wines are similar to red wines in that the skin of the grapes is utilized in the process. However, to get the lighter, pinker color of a rosé wine, one common method involves removing the skins earlier in the process. Other methods include the saignee method common in France, the vin gris method, and discolorization.  Some rosés are sweet, such as the popular white zinfandel, while others are incredibly dry, such as rosado.

Sparkling Wines

Sparking wines, like the rest of the wines on this list, are often broken down into subcategories. However, unlike the others on this list, the subcategories of sparkling wines include red, white and Rosé.

Any wine with large concentrations of carbon dioxide that give it the “fizz” sensation found in soft drinks is considered a sparkling wine. The most popular form of sparkling wine is champagne, a common beverage in celebrations across the world.

Dessert Wines

Also called “pudding wines,” dessert wines are exactly what the name implies: wines often consumed with after-dinner desserts. They’re often very sweet; to compensate for the fact that sugar is fermented into alcohol during the winemaking process, dessert wines are produced via a few methods: growing grapes with naturally higher sugar content, adding sugar either before or after fermentation, adding alcohol, or removing water to concentrate the sugar further.

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