Wine Tasting Tips & Wine Varietal Explanations

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Wine Facts: Quick WineTasting Tips

What is the ideal temperature for wine?

Whites: chilled (45-55 degrees F) for a few hours in the refrigerator.
Reds: slightly cooler than room temperature (about 65 degrees); Younger fruity reds benefit from chilling.
Sparkling Wine: thoroughly chilled; refrigerate several hours or the night before serving.
Dessert Wine: room temperature.

Chilling tones down the sweetness of wine. If a red wine becomes too warm, it may lose some of its fruity flavor.

Should I ever use a decanter for my wines?

A decanter is used mainly to remove sediment from older red wines. Also, it can be used to open up young red wines. Otherwise, wine will "breathe" enough in your glass and decanting is not necessary.

Why should I swirl wine in my glass before I drink it?

By swirling your wine, oxygen is invited into the glass, which allows the aromas to escape.

Do not let anyone beat you when it comes to tasting wine. Read on for some grape "specs" for your mental wine facts library.

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Wine Facts: Basic Wine Varieties

You may be an experiences wine drinker... But even experts may confuse wine varietals when tasting blindfolded. Be prepared for the next blindfolded wine tasting by reading these wine facts ahead of time - impress your friends, and keep the secret to yourself. Or, if you'd rather share, it's okay too - knowledge is free!!!

Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine best known for its grassy, herbal flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is also called Fume Blanc, and is a popular choice for fish and shellfish dishes.

Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) - The low acidity of this white varietal helps produce rich, lightly perfumed wines that are often more colorful than other whites. The best ones have pear and spice-cake flavors.

Chardonnay - Chardonnay is a white wine which can range from clean and crisp with a hint of varietal flavor to rich and complex oak-aged wines. Chardonnay typically balances fruit, acidity and texture. This varietal goes well with everything from fish and poultry to cheeses, spicy foods and nut sauces.

Muscat - The white Muscat grape produces spicy, floral wines that often do something most other wines don't: they actually taste like grapes. Muscats can range from very dry and fresh to sweet and syrupy. This varietal is often served with puddings and chocolate desserts.

Gewurztraminer - Gewurztraminer is a white wine that produces distinctive wines rich in spicy aromas and full flavors, ranging from dry to sweet. Smells and flavors of litchi nuts, gingerbread, vanilla, grapefruit, and honeysuckle come out of this varietal. It is often a popular choice for Asian cuisines and pork-based sausages.

Riesling - Rieslings are white wines known for their floral perfume. Depending on where they're made, they can be crisp and bone-dry, full-bodied and spicy or luscious and sweet. The flavor is often of peaches, apricots, honey, and apples and pairs well with duck, pork, and roast vegetables.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine - These wines are made effervescent in the wine-making process. Champagnes and sparkling wines range in style from very dry (Natural), dry (brut) and slightly sweet (extra Dry) to sweet (sec and Demi-Sec). Many sparkling wines are also identified as Blanc de Blancs (wines made from white grapes) or Blanc de Noirs (wines produced from red grapes).

Pinot Noir - Pinot Noir is a red wine of light to medium body and delicate, smooth, rich complexity with earthy aromas. They are less tannic than a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot. Pinot Noirs exude the flavor of baked cherries, plums, mushrooms, cedar, cigars, and chocolate.

Zinfandel - Primarily thought of as a Californian varietal (though recently proven to have originated from vineyards in Croatia), Zinfandel is a red wine with light to full body and berry-like or spicy flavors. The Zinfandel grape is also widely used in the popular off-dry blush wine known as White Zinfandel. The Red Zinfandel pairs well with moderately spicy meat dishes. Syrah (Shiraz) - Syrah can produce monumental red wines with strong tannins and complex combinations of flavors including berry, plum and smoke. It's known as Shiraz mainly in Australia and South Africa.

Petite Syrah - Petite Syrahs are red wines with firm, robust tannic tastes, often with peppery flavors. Petite Syrahs may complement meals with rich meats.

Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine known for its depth of flavor, aroma and ability to age. It is full-bodied and intense, with cherry- currant and sometimes herbal flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon may have noticeable tannins.

Merlot - Merlot is a red wine with medium to full body and herbaceous flavors. Merlot is typically softer in taste than Cabernet Sauvignon. It's flavors and aromas include blackberry, baked cherries, plums, chocolate, and mocha.

I hope the next glass of wine you drink will taste a bit different! Enjoy!



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