Wine 101: Stepping In To Suave

A lot of times people dismiss wine to be somewhat pretentious. This might be true, but in reality there is a science behind all those ridiculous valuations for a bottle of fermented grape juice. Often, wine snobbery reaches its zenith where people boast of the fanciest, rarest and most expensive vintage they’ve tried. Simply put, never be intimidated. Wine is a simple drink with great lineage. Just a small effort to grasp its nuances and you might become the sommelier to all your friends. Here is a crash course in all the basics you need to know about the vino life.

Types of Wine: All wines can be broadly categorized into 5 groups of wine. Within each group, there are hundreds of grape varieties and wine-making styles.


a)      Red Wine: Still wine made with black grapes. These can range from light to dark and bone-dry to sweet.

b)      White Wine: A still wine produced from green and sometimes black grapes. Flavours span from rich and creamy to light and zesty.

c)       Rosé Wine:  A still wine produced from black grapes by removing the skins before they deeply colour the wine. Also formed by blending red and white wine together. Both dry and sweet styles of rosé are common.

d)      Sparkling Wine: A style of wine-making involving a secondary fermentation causing bubbles! Sparkling wine can be red, white or rosé and can range from mineral tones to rich and sweet.

e)      Fortified Wine: A style of wine-making involving fortifying wine with spirits. Typically a dessert wine, but many dry style fortified wines exist such as dry Sherry.

How to Swirl Wine:

wine swirl

Watch this video to learn the art of the swirl. (Disclaimer: Don’t swirl sparkling wines unless you want to remove the bubbles.)

How to Taste Wine:

wine tasting

a) Look: Use this step to get into the mindset of tasting. Look at the shade of colour and opacity. How does it compare to other wines of the same variety? Is it darker? More intense? Harder to see through? Take a mental snapshot for later, these hints will show how bold, rich and viscous the wine is.

b) Smell: Identifying smells beforehand makes tasting flavours in wine more easier. Start by swirling the glass to aerate the wine and release its aromas. Now stick your nose in and take a big sniff. What do you smell?

c) Taste: Take a mouthwash size sip and briefly swish it around your mouth to make sure it coats your entire tongue before you swallow. Think about flavours, textures and body of the wine. Is it sharp? Does it make your tongue feel dry? Do the flavours match the smells from earlier? Revisit smelling the wine after your first sip to help formulate any conclusions.

d) Think: Too many guides focus on the superficial nuances of wine tasting. Wine tasting is a head game. There are no wrong answers, don’t be afraid to pipe up and offer your suggestions.

Basics to Wine & Food Pairing:


If you’re still further intrigued by the world of wine there are courses available. These can range from beginners to professional ones. Sensing a career switch, maybe?

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