Wine for all you Dummies (LOTS of info)
Hello Food Lovers :hi:
(this thread just took me 5 hours to make :facepalm:)
If you love food, you should love wine.... Honestly there isn't a better way to enjoy food than with a perfectly paired glass of wine, hence why you should love both. They go hand in hand, and when you can find a wine that compliments the food that you are eating, the food compliments the wine as well and you are left with an orgasmic reaction on your pallet which may or may not give you a chubby :eeps:
(i usually get the chubster... :shhh:)
K after a few requests and many questions about wine, I'll go ahead and make this "Wine Tasting Tips" thread as well as some general information about wine as a whole.
First off, lets go over the basics........ types of wines and their general characteristics. This is the first thing that you would want to understand because you will need to know which wine would be a better match. For instance, do you think a heavy dry Cabernet Sauvignon will match better with a hearty red pasta dish?.... or sliced canteloupe? :idea:
So lets go over red wines first. I'll give you a few examples and let you know what you can eat them with.... red wine first and foremost........ I can't even begin to tell you how many types there are, but lets go over a few.
Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz if you're an Aussie lol)
Now, I listed these left to right from lightest to heaviest (respectively)
Well Jonathan, I understand that a Cab is heavier than a Pinot Noir, but how? Well I'm glad you asked :rofl:... There are various things that will determine the "body" of the wine, but I'll go over the basic info. First off, red wines are fermented in their skins (hence the color of the wine.) Secondly, you have to look at the grapes that the wine is made from. If you compare a Pinot Noir grape to a Cabernet grape, you will notice that a Pinot Noir grape is almost fragile compared to the Cab. The skin is very thin compared to the cabernet grape, which plays a huge part in the wine. The thicker the skin, the heavier/drier/stronger the wine will be...
Also, the skin is what holds "tannins" in the wine. If you do not know what tannins are, here is a very easy way of describing it. Tannins is that "bitter" taste and "dry" feeling in your mouth, ya know... it makes you pucker up a little bit and kinda gives a little "bite" to it..... Since this comes from the skins of the grapes, the thicker the skin will result in a heavier/dryer wine with "stronger" tannins....... This plays a huge part in pairing simply because you don't want your wine to overpower what you are eating..... we'll discuss that later
So, as far as white wines go, its relatively the same idea, however there are a few things that can change white wines as well. Lets discuss a few
Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
Pinot Grigios are usually very light and dry, Sauvignon Blancs tend to be light and fruity (great for summer), and Chardonnays are definitely your heavier white wine... Once again the characteristics of the grape itself will determine the "body" of the wine, however the fermenting plays a big roll in this as well. Take the Chardonnay for example.... A lot of Chardonnays are fermented in oak barrels (or fermented with oak chips in it.) Some are fermented in stainless steel. Take a guess as to which one would be heavier/richer? (I hope you said the oak lol)
Ok now that we got that out of the way, I want you to understand the different tastes/smells of wine, and what to expect when you taste it for the first time.
***Disclaimer, when you swirl wine around in your glass and you look at the "legs" of the wine, it tells you ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the wine. Swirling the wine around will move the wine around, exposing it to more oxygen allowing it to "breath" more.... details later under "decanting."
Here are the steps to take
1. Look at the wine. If you are drinking red, does it look on the lighter side of red? Or is is a deeper red/purple or even "brownish"? If you are drinking a white wine, is it a very pale yellow (maybe a little greenish) or are you looking at a deep yellow, almost amber colored wine? Clearly the darker reds and deeper yellow will yield a deeper/heavier flavor (so a Cabernet or a Chardonnay) where the lighter ones will be a lighter wine.... Always look through the wine, not at it.... and always in front of a white background
2. Smell the wine. There are two ways of doing this.... slow deep breaths or fast... Trust me if you smell it regularly you might get a good sense of the wine, but when you smell it slower, you might be able to pick up on a few other "notes" in the wine. Pay attention when smelling wine and have an open mind.
Here is your cheat for "smelling" wine. A lot of friends will say to me "Jonathan, when i smell the wine, all i smell is alcohol, but when you say that it smells like black cherries, then i can finally smell it... how can you pick up on it?" Well........ if you know what to look for, you'll pick it up......
The complexity of a wine plays a huge factor in the quality. You do want a complex wine, so when you smell it, you don't want to smell just one thing. You want to be able to pick up on multiple notes in the nose...
Take a look at the chart below. When you smell a wine for the first time, look at the inner circle (beginner) to determine what this wine is like, and the further you move outwards, the more specific you are getting in recognizing the "notes" (or bouquet) of the wine
3. Taste the wine. Don't take a little sip like a put a decent amount in your mouth and swish it all around. Your tongue has multiple parts that taste different characteristics (bitter, sour, sweet, salt) so make sure you put the wine everywhere in your mouth that way you can taste everything!!!
Here is a tricky thing to do.... when the wine is in your mouth, try inhaling a little through your nose and mouth (slowly.) The wine evaporating in your mouth can easily be smelled if you do this, and you really can get a better smell of the wine.... pretty cool, but try not spilling or choking lol... i've done that a few times if I put too much wine in my mouth :rofl:
Swallow (thats what she said).... after you swallow, breathe in slowly. Pay attention to the taste and feeling that is left in your mouth. A good wine will leave a complex flavor in your mouth (more than 1 flavor) and this taste should stay in your mouth for a good amount of time. The longevity of a wine is important, if you can still taste the wine after 30 seconds of swallowing, you have yourself a good wine :thumbsup: If the longevity of the wine is weak and goes away fast.... ya, not a good thing....
Ok so that is the basics of wine and tasting, now here are some tips and random facts that can help you with purchasing wine, tasting, and pairing.
*This is all general info, there are exceptions/objections to some of the info I will give you, but respectively it is just generalized information. Read it, its good info
Wine characteristics also have a lot to do with the soil... if you read up on it you will see the terms "Old World" and "New World." This refers to the vineyards that make the wine. Take a look at french vineyards, they are hundreds of years old, the soil is old, clay-like, rocky, and so forth. California vineyards are new, rich, feritile. So what happens? Well clearly with the cali wines, you will tend to get a brighter/fruitier taste out of a wine rather than the dry/earthy/veggy like taste you can get out of a french wine. France and Italy tend to have that "old world" wine, as well as some wines from Spain, Argentina, and Chile. New world wines (sweeter, vibrant, etc) include California, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and some from Chile/Argentina as well....
Wine is all about MARKETING......... I'll repeat.... WINE IS ALL ABOUT MARKETING. California wines (Napa Valley for instance) has this country by the balls. Everyone thinks that if a wine is from California, it has to be great... well, all i have to say it :facepalm: This causes two things:
1. Many Cali wines to be overpriced (Opus One :rolleyes:)
2. Many imported wines to be underpriced :clap: (they lower their prices to attract US buyers)
Look at Kendall Jackson for instance....... bottles are roughly $16 a piece, and their wines are garbage. You could find a comparable South African, Chilean, or Argentinian wine for half the price and 2x better. So keep an eye out for imported wines and keep an open mind. Don't be afraid to talk to the "Sommelier" at your local liquor store, they know more than you think :idea:
When tasting wine, ALWAYS BUY 2 OR 3 WINES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't tell people enough, when you taste one bottle of wine at a time, you have nothing to compare it to, so you won't be able to determine right away the differences of the wine. By the time you go out and buy another bottle (the next day or two) you already forgot the details of the wine you already had....
Write everything down! Write down as many details of the wine, when you had it, what year it was, what you ate with it, what did it smell/taste like, your opinion of it, etc etc etc.
To get familiar with wine "smelling" do this.... Look above at the wine chart and pick 12 things. Go to the market (if you need to), get those things, come home, put them in a glass and cover them with saran wrap (if you leave them open, you will smell everything and it will mess up your sense of smell when you need to smell a wine.) So get the following.... Few different types of fruit, strawberry and/or raspberry preserves, some dirt, some rocks (yes i know it sounds weird but do it), some vegetables, and put them seperately in a glass and cover tighly. Lift the saran wrap of one, smell it, and cover it back up. I'm telling you, this is a GREAT way to train your nose (which is the most important thing in smelling wine.) As a matter of fact, smell EVERYTHING possible. When you eat, pay attention to the smell. Smell water, smell spices, anything and everything, just smell and pay attention, because it will help you when you need to smell wine.
"Jonathan, when i smell wine I can't get past the alchohol smell, what can i do to help that".... Pour a little bit of vodka or grain alcohol in a class and take a few whiffs of that. Your nose will eventually get used to the "sense of alcohol" so when its time to smell the wine, you will hopefully get past that "alcohol smell" and you'll be able to concentrate on the wine and notes.
Room Temp does not mean 72 degrees. Typically, a red wine should be served between 56 and 59 degrees (respectively) and a white wine should be served about 10-15 degrees colder. Here is the outcome. If a wine is served too warm, this will multiply the intensity of the alcohol in the wine, so it will taste very "hot" in your mouth (like you just took a shot.) If a wine is served too cold (most whites) it will mask the smell/taste of the wine, so you will not be able to detect the components of its true flavor. Rule of thumb... if a red wine is at room temp, put it in the frig for 25 minutes. If a white wine is already in the fridge, take it out about 25 minutes before serving.
Basics in Wine Pairing:
Sauvignon Blanc - Dry and somewhat sweet, should be a pale yellow. Easy things to pair it up with would be soft cheeses, shellfish, fruit, lighter fishes, and salads :)
Chardonnay - Heavy, rich, buttery, oaky, should be a golden/amber color. Pair it with heavier cheeses (not too sharp), fattier fishes (sea bass, salmon, etc) chicken dishes, some veal dishes, creamy seafood pasta dishes
Pinot Noir - Light red, somewhat fruity, but a smooth wine with soft tannins, so "not that much bite" to it. Pair this with light pasta dishes (so a light marinara), veal, pork, filet mignon (filet are pale in flavor, this wine will not overpower it), some ligher game meat, dark meat poultry, earthy/veggie pasta dishes, grilled vegetables, salads with steak, smoked gouda :drool:, some spicy foods
Merlot - Medium red, drier, heavier than the Noir with medium tannins. Awesome with grilled margherita pizza's, hearty pasta dishes (ragu, marinara, etc) sirloin, flank, filet mignon, bone in veal, some spicy foods
Cabernet - Full bodied and dry, heavy tannins. Rich meats such as a Ribeye or Porterhouse, heavier game meat (venison), hearty pasta (once again), dry cheeses (reggiano parmigiano), etc
Use some judgement, if you see a dish that is heavier/bolder, then clearly go with a heavier wine. You need to compliment the food, not overpower or underpower it.
Keep in mind this is just general info, I can guarantee you can find a "dry" cheese that goes horrible with Cabernet Sauvignon
Oxygen breaks down tannins, but before that happens, it softens them. I decant every bottle I can for about an hour or so. It will smoothen out the wine a little, so if you have a chance to do it, do it. If you buy an expensive bottle of wine that is 15-20 years old, the tannins can be VERY fragile, so check with your Wine Guy first to see how long the bottle should be decanted for. There are wines out there that are so fragile, decanting it more than 30 minutes will kill the wine. So for regular bottles, yea open the bottle up for an hour or so, or decant, but if it is a very "special" bottle, check first before you open it up....
Different Wines to Try
Above I listed the basic wines, however there are incredible wines across the world that I have yet to dislike. Try the following if you come across them....
Cabernet/Merlot from Oregon or Washington State. Cheaper than Cali (usually) and incredible.
Argentina Malbecs, red medium bodies, great substitue for merlot/cab
Italian Nero D'Avola - another great substitute for a med-heavy red, my personal favorites
Suove and Sancerres are a great substitute for Chardonnay. Suove is from Verona, Italy, and "Sancerre" is a chardonnay, but from France. Little better than your typical California chardonnay.... which taste like green apples, butter, and oak mostly :rolleyes: Vouvrays are a french wine made primarily from a Chenin Blanc grape, they are pretty sweet, but have this with Port Wine cheese, you'll never look back lol....
Spanish Ribera del Duero - Med to Heavy bodied, love it... just get it and don't ask why
Chateauneuf du Pape - Southern Rhone wine from France, pricey, but this is an excellent wine to get if you want to try an "Old World" wine. This is very earthy and "musky".... pair that up with some venison or game, or something with mushrooms and you'll have a great pair :)
Stainless Fermented Chardonnays are great to try. If you are like me, you tend to stay away from Chardonnays in the warm weather because most of them are over-oaked and heavy as hell. Not good for the warm weather, not refreshing enough.... stainless distilled will change your mind on chardonnays :thumbsup:
Any wine from South Africa :drool:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are some of the worlds best. They pair up well with any food that is refreshing (fruit and salad,) and awesome with lobster, oysters, crab, clams, mussels......... etc
Chocolate - Many think that red wine and chocolate pair well. Ya, it does, however pairing red wine with chocolate is VERY difficult to do. There is a lot more chemistry involved with this, so if you get a good bottle of red wine and it tastes great with chocolate, you are a lucky person. If red wine has "chocolate" notes in it, that doesn't mean it will be good with chocolate. Chocolate is one of the hardest things to pair well with, so if you are interested in do so, get some advice first :4ngie:
Wine Pairing Tip - Try different wines with the same food, and then try different food with the same wine. This will help you out a lot when trying to determine which goes best. Don't forget, when you taste..... take big bites, get the flavor of the food ALL AROUND the inside of your mouth, pay attention to the smell of the food. Drink right after that way the flavors can mix well, and then pay attention to what it tastes like. If it is bitter, not the best pairing, but if you can still taste the food and the taste/feeling of the wine softens up nicely, you have yourself a great match :thumbsup:
Let wine set the tone
If you plan on just drinking wine, or having wine with some appetizers, keep in mind the company you are having and the "mood" you want to set for the night. Wine plays a big factor in the atmosphere/attitude of a night you have planned. If you want a fun casual night, keep your eyes on "fun" wines, so Pinot Noir, Sauv Blancs, Beaujolais, and even some Rose wines. These wines are easy to drink and not too overpowering, this will keep spirits high for the night :excited:
For a formal dinner, then you want to move into those serious wines.... Cabernet, Petite Verdot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, and so forth. If you have people over for the game, and you order a pizza and serve it with a big heavy zinfandel, everyone is gonna be like "why sooooooo serioussssss?" :eeps:
When going to a nice restaurant, don't be afraid to ask the waiter about the wine (or Sommelier if they have one) There are THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of wines out there, so don't be embarrassed if you don't find one you are familiar with on the menu. Let them know what you like and they'll give you some good suggestions.
Keep in mind, purchasing wine doesn't always have to do with the "quality" of the wine. Once again I'll bring up Opus One. Yes it is a good wine, but for half the price I guarantee I could find you a better wine in about 15 seconds.... Its about prestige, marketing, and also the rarity of the wine. If a vineyard makes a decent wine (85-88 points out of 100) and they make a very small amount of wine per year, guess what... that wine is going to cost you $100+ a bottle. You can easily fine 90 point wines for $10-$20 a bottle, so don't let the cost fool you.
Two people to read up on and listen to
tv.winelibrary.com watch that and you'll learn A TON
Dont' shake it up and pop it, you are ruining it you ass hole. Also, don't forget to take this out of the frig for 25ish minutes well, its still a white wine :read:
Keep an open mind. Many people may thing if a wine is sweet, you should have it with sweet food. For the most part, it works for you but it may not be the best choice.
Quick story... I bought a lobster and some oysters for myself one night (bad day at work lol) so clearly I wanted a wine to go with it. Walked in the lq store and said "Gimme a good New Zealand Sauv Blanc, I'm eating lobster and oysters tonight (fairly sweet, esp the lobster.) My wine guy said...
"Jonathan, have this instead...."
(handed me a bottle of Spier Discover Steen, an $8.59 bottle, or 2 for $16, from South Africa, similar to a pinot grigio/soave mix)
"Jonathan, this wine is not very sweet, its sharp, light, crisp, and full of citrus and lemongrass. This will give you everything that the lobster won't, you won't believe it"
This pairing was a 10/10
So once again, keep an open mind because wine can fill in the gaps that your food leaves out :thumbsup:
I know its a long thread, but if you took the time to read it, :thanks:
I encourage all questions and comments :hi: There is still a ton of info i left out so hopeully I'll give more info with any questions
Wow. Thank you for all this wonderful information, i sure need it.
i think i'm going to do a wine tasting soon if anyone is interested :thumbsup:
subscribed and printed.
haha how many pages is it?
I have a question: My friend said that you should always remove the wine bag from the box and use it like a bota bag. I've always been of the firm belief that they built the box the way they did because they want you to keep the bag in the box and use it like a coffee dispenser. Who's right?
at life that is :rofl:
i almost just had a conniption
After a number of years of wine drinking I've decided the following:
I also have 5 gallons of 3 week old German style apfelwein conditioning in my basement that tastes really, really good. I think it's more enjoyable than grape wines and it's sulfite-free.
just finish reading this great, informative thread. I think mods should sticky it!
Thanks again for writing this out. I am going to Trader Joe's and get some wine and try out some!
Just wondering, when you wrote about decant wine, how do you decant them?
Also, a friend told me that some people like the wine somewhat warmer than room temperature, thus they hold the glass and let their body heat warm up the wine a little, is that just a type of preference? Because you wrote that it's better to drink wine below.
Again man, you rock! Great thread!
sucks about the sulfites tho, most people think that only whites have sulfites but red have them as well :(
happy brewing :hi:
Decanting wine it just letting it open up and breath, you can open the bottle and let it sit there for an hour or two, or you can buy a decanter. If you see below, you'll realize that a full bottle of wine till line up perfectly half way between the "curve" on the sides of the decanter. This gives it the maximum surface area possible, allowing it to breath the best :thumbsup:
as far as your friend heating up wine... it is just personal preference. Unless they had it sitting in the frig, i wouldn't recommend it. Like mentioned before, the warmer a wine is, the more alcohol you can smell and taste, so i would imagine that the wine they are drinking must smell very hot and musky if they are drinking it "heated"
but to each their own :)
that thing doesnt just make it look nice.
It Air rates the wine right then and there, except for waiting like half an hour.
oops russo already mentioned it :(
thanks for taking out 5 hrs to enlighten us.....
i wasnt a wine dummy...but i didnt know all that!
Great read! So, what are some of your favorite reds under $20 and where do you get reliable info on good years vs. less than desirable years?
did you try it with anything else? i know it is going to be a waste of money, but this will give you a great understanding of how wines are over priced. try kendall jackson ($16) and drink it the same time as the Novella, that way you can easily compare the two. You are not going to believe how much better that novella is compared to the bottle that costs $10 more. Seriously try it out, and let me know what you think :)
(of course i already mentioned the decanter.... are you kidding me anthony???)
As far as new world vintages, California, Australia, and most cheaper wines from Chile and Argentina are very consistent, so whether you get an 04 or an 06, its still a great bottle (however the heavier wines i would prefer the older if there were a choice....) Look at California's weather..... very sunny all the time. Perfect weather = great wine and consistent, so I wouldn't think too much about the vintages unless you are going to buy a Silver Oak or something along those lines (1992, 1994, and 1998 if I remember correctly)
$20 bottles? Oh god there is so many.... but here are my usual picks, these are the bottles you can't go wrong with
2005 Masi Campofiorin, $19
2006 Frescobaldi Castiglioni, $17 (don't get an 07, they suck)
Inama Vin Soave Classico, $16ish (great white wine)
Cosumano Nero d'Avola, $17ish
Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, $9
Contempo Nero d'Avola $15
J Lohr Cabernet $16
Rodney Strong Cab $17
Louis Martini Cab $16
Aquinas Cab $13
Aquinas Merlot $12
Hayman Hill Cab $13
Chateau St. Michelle (Washington) $16, however their early 2000's were a lot better
Mondavi Pinot Noir (not bad at all) $13 for a 1.5L
Sebastiani Cab, $20 i think
St. Francis, $18ish
Alamos Malbec, 10ish
Agua De Piedra Malbec, $10
Conquista Malbec, $9
Root 1 Cabernet (chile), $13
Castillero del Diablo Cabernet, $15ish
Spier Discover Pinotage (red) $9 or 2 for $16
Spier Discover Steen (white) $9 or 2 for $16
If you can spend a little bit more:
Sterling Merlot, California $24
Markham Cabernet, Cali $27
Simi Cab, Cali $25ish (however i have seen it for $16 some places... :dunno:)
Franciscan Cab, $24
Protos Reserva, Ribero del Duero, Spain, $30ish (if you can find it)
Any Chateauneuf du Pape :)
Most clubs let you in at 17.
...I think. :eeps:
And about throwing a few back... wine must be enjoyed. Not thrown back like some heathen.
i was referring to you actually hanging out with him lol
joking of course... he can come chill down here in a few years :thumbsup:
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