I have always been intrigued about wine & the wine connoisseurs. We watch in the movies how they swirl their wine glasses and savor that very distinct aroma of a particular wine. Just by a glimpse of a bottle, they know precisely the wine maker, year, etc… When I pass by wines stores (which are scant here), I always imagine myself opening the door and walking inside, striding towards the wine racks and knowing exactly what I’m looking for…(sigh) too bad because when it comes to wines, I’m a complete blunder! I really have lesser than minimal knowledge about wines (except for that red wine that made me drunk last Christmas Eve)..

So here, to the wine newbies like me, read and digest because you can never tell when you’ll be getting into situations where you’ll be thanking I have posted this. :P

Popular wine types

  • Red Wine ColorsRed: Red wine is made from red, or black, grapes. Unlike white wine, when winemakers ferment red wine, they use the skin of the grapes. This allows the tannins from the grapes to enter the wine and gives red wine its dark color.There are many different types of red wine. Some, such as varietals, use only one grape variety, such as Zinfandel. Others use a blend of two or more grapes, such as a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend.Red wines run the gamut, from the smooth and velvety Pinot Noir to the full-flavored, intense and spicy Shiraz. If you’re a beginner, you might want to opt for a mellower red and work your way up to the more intense styles and blends.
  • Rosé: Like red wine, rosé wine (also known as blush wine) is produced from red black or black grapes. However, it is only allowed contact with the skins for a short period of time. This gives the wine the slight color of a red (more like a pink) but a taste more similar to a white.
  • Sparkling: Many people confuse sparkling wine with champagne. However, sparkling wine isn’t produced from champagne grapes (those grapes are grown only in Champagne, France). In order to produce sparkling wines, winemakers add a yeast and sugar solution to dry table wine. Then, the wine is resealed in order to go through a second fermentation process.
  • White: Contrary to popular belief, white wine can be made from either red or white grapes. The reason the wine remains white or golden is that the skins are not used in the fermentation process.White wine styles vary from very dry to super sweet and are typically served chilled. Chardonnays have been popular in recent years and offer savory, smoky and/or vanilla characteristics. If you’re looking for something sweeter, try a Riesling or a Pinot Gris.

Variations in Types of Wine

Within all the basic categories of wine, there are many wine varieties. However, don’t let this confuse you. Here are a few tips that will help you on your next trip to the wine store:

  1. Wine can be made from a variety of grapes or from a single type of grape. When looking at names of wines, remember that some wines, known as varietals, are named after the principal grape in their composition. Other wines are named after the region in which the grapes were grown.
  2. The climate of the region in which the grapes were grown will have an impact on the dryness or sweetness of the wine.
  3. While the grapes used in the wine will have a large impact on the taste of the wine, the winemaker can also influence its taste during the vinification (winemaking) process.

Wine Glasses

Different types of wine require unique glassware to enhance the properties of the particular wine. As a result, having the proper wine glasses for the type of wine that you are planning on drinking is an important part of fully enjoying that specific wine. Here is an outline of the glassware specific to each type of wine:

  • Champagnes: served in flutes (or in traditional champagne wine glasses if you have antique wine glasses) so that you can enjoy watching the bubbles.

  • Dessert wines: served in short, small wine glasses so that too much isn’t poured. Because dessert wines tend to be more intense than other types of wines, they need to be sipped and savored in smaller amounts.

  • Red wine: served in bigger, rounder wine glasses with wider mouths so that the wine can aerate more easily and the drinker can enjoy the aroma.

  • White wine: served in a narrower, taller glass with a smaller mouth to help keep it chilled.

Etiquette for Wine

Wine etiquette at restaurants can be confusing. At fine restaurants, the wine list typically arrives first. This can be an intimidating showing of unfamiliar names mixed with a few well-recognized terms. Unless you choose to enjoy a glass of wine prior to your meal, it’s best to figure out what you want to eat before choosing your wine.

Once you’ve decided on the menu courses, consult with the server or wine steward, unless you already have favorite selections in mind. He will be more than happy to help you select a bottle to complement your food.

Etiquette for Wine Tasting

Here are the proper steps for tasting wine once it arrives at your table:

  1. The server will arrive with the bottle, first presenting the label for inspection. Do read the label briefly and verify that it is indeed the correct vintage.
  2. The server will uncork the bottle. Some people like to check the cork for signs of spoilage. If the wine has turned, the cork will produce an off odor.
  3. The waiter will pour a small glass of wine for the person who ordered it. The person will note the color of the wine, smell it, looking for any foul odor, and taste it to ensure that it hasn’t spoiled.
  4. Once the person says that the wine is good, the server will pour glasses for the rest of the table.

Wine Etiquette: Tipping

Some controversy surrounds wine tipping etiquette. You may think that a higher-priced bottle requires the same tip as a less-pricey choice. Wine tipping etiquette, however, states that if you’re able to afford expensive wine, you should include the requisite gratuity based on the entire cost of the bottle.

Generally, you should tip between 10 percent and 20 percent per bottle, depending on the service you receive.

Wine Etiquette for Home

Wine etiquette continues at home as well. When serving, it’s important to have the right tools on hand to make an artful presentation for your guests. You’ll find an amazing array of foil cutters and sophisticated openers at any kitchen or wine store.

For proper etiquette, you should also serve your wine in the proper glasses. You can buy glasses for serving white, red, champagne and specialty wines.

Etiquette for Opening Wine

It’s always a good idea to practice opening wine if you aren’t familiar with the process. You don’t want to have to ask one of your guests for help because you can’t uncork the bottle. Here are the basic steps for opening wine with a waiter’s pull:

  1. Start with the bottle on a flat surface that puts the neck of the bottle at elbow height.
  2. Remove the metallic wrapper around the neck by using the blade of the opener.
  3. Making sure that the corkscrew is perpendicular to the surface you are working on, twist the corkscrew evenly into the center until the majority of the screw is buried.
  4. Hook the metal lever over the rim of the bottle and pull up. The cork should easily slide out.

If you can’t uncork your wine, consider buying screw-cap bottles. Screw caps continue to gain popularity, eliminating some of the necessary wine opening skills. Many fine wines even come with screw caps.

Wine Etiquette: Giving Wine as a Gift

Presenting a wine gift is not usually as simple as picking up a bottle on the way to someone’s home. If you’re dining with old friends, you’ll already have an idea of their wine preferences. However, when meeting with new acquaintances or selecting wine for peers and bosses, it becomes more complicated. A good rule of thumb is to pick a mild wine that isn’t too bold. You might even choose to pick one of your favorites.

When giving wine as a gift, etiquette dictates the process. Spend too little on the wine and you might insult someone. Pay too much, however, and you risk looking pretentious. To be on the safe side, buy a wine that is priced in the middle range.

Wine gift baskets are also appropriate, depending on the occasion and the person receiving the gift. At most wine stores, you’ll find an array of luxury bags and baskets for presenting your wine. You can fill these with wine as well as with wine accessories. You might even want to throw in some cheese and crackers to complement the bottle.

If you are bringing wine to a dinner party, don’t pre-chill the bottle unless you are responsible for bringing the wine. If you pre-chill the bottle, the host may feel required to serve it.

Wine Etiquette: Serving Wine

The etiquette of serving wine is fairly straightforward. Use the correct glasses and have the wine at its ideal temperature. In general, chill red for 10 to 20 minutes. (Though not a popular idea, chilling red wine actually exaggerates the tannins and gives the wine more taste.) Give white wines a 20-minute rest before pulling the cork.

Vintage red wi