“I taste notes of plum, berries, and pepper.”
Have you ever heard anyone talk about wine like that? It seems pompous, but there is something to it. Drinking wine is an enjoyable experience when you know what you’re talking about.
In 2020, Americans drank an average of 3.09 gallons of wine per person, totaling more than 1 billion gallons. The pandemic had something to do with that, but wine consumption has been increasing in the U.S. for years.
Sommeliers that have a sommelier certification know about the different wine regions.
Before you crack open your next box or bottle of wine, you’ll want to read this guide. These are the top tips for learning about wine and how to enjoy it.
What Influences Wine Flavors?
What makes a great wine? It’s part art and part science. Most people look at the type of grape. That is important, but wine qualities vary from year to year.
The same grape produced in the same spot produces different wines from one year to the next. The weather and soil play significant roles in how the grape grows.
A hot summer could prevent grapes from ripening. That makes the grapes have higher sugar content with less acidity.
Too much water causes grapes to split or have higher water content. That dilutes the flavor of the grape.
Geology and elevation play significant roles as well. You’ll find that certain grapes prefer to grow in certain types of climates and soils.
The winemaker influences the final product as well. They choose the timing of the harvest, the casks to ferment the wine, and the winemaking process.
For instance, they can choose to let the wine sit in oak casks. That gives the wine an additional layer of complexity and flavor.
Learn the Wine Regions
There are wine regions all over the world. The U.S., Spain, France, and Italy are the dominant wine countries.
Within each country is a region. These are specifically designated areas overseen by viticultural associations, which uphold the standards of wine.
You’ll see AVA on American wine bottles. It stands for American Viticultural Association. To use the AVA designation, a winemaker has to use at least 85% of the grapes in that region to produce wine.
These AVAs are usually known for a certain type of grape. The Dundee Hills AVA about 45 minutes south of Portland, Oregon is widely known for producing the best pinot noir wine in the world.
Other countries have similar structures. Italy has the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), which means the designation of controlled origin. France has an AOC and Spain uses the DO designation.
You want to learn about the grapes grown in each region and the top winemakers.
Drinking and Enjoying Wine
You have a very basic background as to how wine gets produced. The best way to learn about wine is to drink it and enjoy it.
Start by choosing your type of wine. The main types are red, white, and rose.
Each bottle of wine has either a single varietal or type of grape or a blend of several varietals. This is noted on the bottle of wine.
Are there wines that you already like? Pick up a couple of bottles. Take note of the grape varietals, regions, and different flavors.
How to Taste Wine
There are a few things to remember when you drink wine. The first thing you want to do is look at the color of the wine.
Red wines range from a pale red color to a dark red. The color tells you a little bit about what you can expect, whether it’s a light refreshing red or a deep bold one.
Tilt the glass over a white surface to see the color of the wine.
Next, you want your nose to experience the wine. Hold the glass down at about chest level. Inhale and see if you can pick up any of the aromas.
Now hold the wine closer to your nose and inhale. Once you smell the wine, taste it. Hold it in your mouth and try to pick up different notes.
After a while, you’ll pick up on those strange notes.
Keep Wine Tasting Records
You want to be able to record the different wines that you try. You can do it the old-fashioned way by keeping a wine tasting journal.
It’s a notebook of the different wines you’ve tried. You can pull the label from the bottle and put it in the notebook. You can add tasting notes to the page. The notes include when you tried the wine, what you liked and disliked about it, and any tasting notes about the wine.
If you don’t like the idea of a notebook, there are a number of wine tasting apps to use. Vivino is one that lets you take photos of the bottle and it matches it with wines in its database. The app lets you write a review of the wine so you can keep track of the wines you’ve tried.
After a while, you’ll want to start a collection of your favorite wines in a wine.
Try Wines From Different Regions
The key to enjoying wine is to try wines from different regions. Even if you like Spanish wines, you can still explore different areas of the country.
If you like sweeter wines, try other varietals and fortified wines such as port and Pedro Ximenez.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different wines. You also don’t have to spend a fortune on wines, either. Get an expensive bottle every now and again.
A lot of the time, you’ll find that the best wines are bargains for $20 or less.
Drinking Wine Is an Experience
There is a certain enjoyment that comes with drinking wine. There is a lot that goes into creating a single bottle. Good wine needs the right winemaker and a lot of luck.