Sometimes all we need at the end of the day is to sit down with the girls and crack open a bottle of wine. This timeless drink has been enjoyed for ages since 7000 B.C. to be exact, and we think it’s time you knew a little bit about where that tasty Moscato came from. Be sure to check out our guide to wine tasting after reading this beginner’s guide to wine. Well grab a glass and cozy up because your wine education is underway. Wine connoisseurs move aside.
White vs. Red-So What’s the Difference?
No white wine isn’t made from white or green grapes, shocker right? After all the sticks are sorted out from the grapes, they enter the fermentation process and this is where the difference between that deep red and crisp white happens.
White wine grapes are fermented without the skins and red wine grapes are fermented with the skin on (the skin comes off after). Also, white wines ferment for 3-6 months while reds ferment for 6-13 months. Yes, it is that simple.
Oaked vs. unoaked
No this isn’t about trees. Nearly every red wine spends time aging in an oak barrel. The oak gives the wine a richer taste, deeper color, and a fuller, spicier taste. Unoaked reds will be much crisper and fruity. Try an oaked and unoaked chardonnay side by side to taste the difference yourself. Yes, white wines can be oaked too. The wine will have a straw color and much like red, a less fruity taste.
Why do you swirl wines?
No, you don’t swirl a wine just to look fancy. When you swirl your glass, oxygen hits the surface of the wine and releases the aromas and taste that would otherwise sit dormant. Only wine you don’t swirl? That would be champagne. The bubbles and carbonation already to all the work.
So, where do where get new wines from?
Believe it or not, there are actually people that go to college to study the art of winemaking. Oenology is the study of all things winemaking and viticulture is the study of winemaking and grape harvesting. Considering a major switch now? Well before you do, remember this is tricky stuff that involves heavy science. But just like you would think, these people spend their time breeding new strains and taking new wines to the market.
And if you are wondering about all those other wines from the Wine God countries of France and Italy, well there is a pesky little thing called the “seven-year quarantine.” That means those grapes that make that lovely Italian Pinot have to be quarantined for seven years before they can be released to production in the U.S. because the government doesn’t want any foreign pests entering the country. And, in more sobering news, by the time the grapes get planted and harvested after quarantine, it ends up being a roughly fifteen-year process.
Italy, France, why are they just so good at it?
The south of France, northern Italy and northern California–what do these places all have in common besides being the badasses of the wine industry? They all rest on the 45th parallel. This parallel is roughly halfway between the equator and the North Pole and has a temperate climate ideal for grape growing. Also, the hills and water in these regions are the final magic touch. In the winter, hills keep the grapes high and warm and the water keeps surrounding areas nice and toasty.
Does wine truly get better with age?
There is much debate in this arena, but right now the forefront claim is that around only 5-10% of wine gets better after five years and only 1% of wine improves after ten years. Ultimately it just depends on the wine and the storage. If you want to give aging a shot, try it with a bottle of Merlot, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir (lower pH levels equals better aging).
Does the type of cork really matter?
Traditionally, natural cork was the only thing used to stop up a bottle of wine, but nowadays screw cap, synthetic corks, and zorks are popping up all over the market. Natural cork is only harvested in the Mediterranean, so these new types of corks are a well-needed departure. Some wine snobs may tell you that natural cork is the only way to go and that any other way is a cheaper and has negative impacts on the wine. Honestly, as long as your bottle is properly stopped, the style of cork does not matter.
Happy sipping Lala girls.