Wine has been around for more than six thousand years. Fermented grape juice, or wine as we call it, is well loved in many countries. Some people enjoy relaxing with a glass after a long, hard day and others love to collect wine or to invest in it and sell it for a profit.
Vines have been cultivated since 4000BC in the Middle East and the Egyptians were making wine with grapes in 2500BC. The Greeks planted vines from the Black Sea to Spain and kept the wine in earthenware pots. The Romans kept it in bottles and barrels and planted vines in some of what are today’s top wine districts.
A lot of Europe’s main wine areas were extended by the monks and they kept the trade in wine alive after the Roman Empire declined. Wine reaches the New World via Columbus and it was the Spanish missionaries who introduced it to Chile and Argentina in the 1500s. In the 1700s, the Californian south became a wine region when the missionaries traveled north. Continue reading
In the old days, it was far simpler to choose wine in a restaurant. The standard rule was red with meat, white with chicken or fish, champagne as an aperitif and brandy or a liqueur after the meal. The men would order the wine and the women (despite having arguably superior palates and being able to remember taste profiles better) would drink whatever the men ordered.
Today there are red wines which suit fish and chicken, white wines which suit meat and game, wines from the new world as well as the old world, and wine lists several inches thick. Unless you are a wine connoisseur, there will be pages and pages of wines you have never heard of.
No wonder choosing a good wine is so stressful, especially when you are choosing for a whole tableful of people. Making a poor choice will not ruin the meal but it can be embarrassing, and it is worth learning a few tips about how to order a suitable wine and how to get your money’s worth. Continue reading
Although many people have never even heard of a wine aerator, this is an item which many wine drinkers use regularly. A wine aerator is designed to aerate your wine, enabling all the flavors to come out and making it more enjoyable.
If you pour wine from the bottle into a glass, you are not allowing it to “breathe” so some of the depth of the wine and the wine’s flavors will not be apparent. A wine aerator gives the wine the space it needs to release all its aromas and flavors, by maximizing the wine’s exposure to the surrounding air. This warms the wine and encourages the aromas to open up, and the flavors to mellow and soften. This device looks like a decorative tube (or stemless glass) which you pour the wine through.
Although purchasing a wine aerator is optional, it does make wine taste better. A wine aerator is not expensive and you can get them in nice designs and different colors. Unless you have tried a wine aerator yourself, it might be difficult to understand how it is worth the money though. The best way to try out a wine aerator is to pour one glass of wine from the bottle to a glass, and pour a second one through the wine aerator. Taste each one and you should notice a difference. The aerated wine should be smoother and tastier. Continue reading
It is more difficult to find a sweet red wine than a sweet white wine, but they are available. Most red wine is made dry (the opposite of sweet, in the wine world), which means it contains less residual sugar and usually more tannins, which further enhance the dryness. Some people make the mistake of confusing a sweet red wine with a fruity red wine, but a fruity wine is usually that way because of both its aroma and flavor.
Some fruity red wines are not necessarily sweet. Our taste buds can taste four flavor sensations, which are sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, although our noses can distinguish between thousands of different smells. If a red wine contains a lot of tannin, that can disguise the otherwise fruity notes too.
How is Sweet Red Wine Made?
The level of sweetness in a red wine is determined largely by the amount of residual sugar it contains. The process of fermentation converts the natural sugars in the grape into alcohol, via yeast, so the alcohol level will give you some clue about how sweet the wine is. Continue reading
If you are thinking about making wine at home, you should know that you will require quite a few pieces of equipment for wine making. You can buy most of it from special wine making stores or order online.
Important Wine Making Supplies
You will need a food-grade bucket and lid for primary fermentation and bottling, as well as a spigot to drain the wine into the carboy. If you do not have a spigot, you can siphon the wine instead.
Another requirement is a six gallon glass carboy, which you will use for the secondary fermentation and aging, as well as a bung, which is a drilled rubber stopper, to provide an airtight seal that holds the airlock. An airlock lets the carbon dioxide escape from the plastic bucket while keeping out the oxygen. This is vital for wine making. Continue reading
There are about one hundred and fifty acknowledged grape varieties in Spain. The most common red grape is the Garnacha and the most common white grape is the Airen.
Spanish Red Grapes
The Garnacha grape grows well in hot, dry conditions, and it is usually used to make blended wines. Wines made with this grape are often sweet and fruity. Another popular Spanish grape is Tempranillo and this one is harvested during late September. Tempranillo grapes thrive in a limestone and calcium-rich soil and wine from this grape is usually blended with other wines to make up for its lack of longevity and acidity.
A further Spanish red grape is the Mazuelo. This one is originally from Aragon in Spain, and it is widely planted around the globe. It produces high yields and is high in acidity and tannins. Continue reading
Various white wine types hail from France but there are seven main ones and those are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Moscato, Semillon, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer and Riesling.
Let us take a look at each of those white wine types in more detail:
This crisp white wine goes nicely with salads, seafood, and poultry. It is grown in the Bordeaux area and blended with Semillon grapes. Perhaps you have tried a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, as that is also a popular one. A lot of great Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Loire Valley in France. This wine is best from cooler places. Australian Sauvignon Blancs tend to lack fruitiness and be flat and these are grown in warmer regions.
Chardonnay can be sparkling or still and it was the most popular grape in the 1990s. Pair Chardonnay with chicken or fish recipes. This grape is grown in the French region of Burgundy and it originated there. It is versatile and not difficult to grow. French Chardonnays are full-bodied with strong grapefruit or lemon flavors. Fermenting Chardonnay in new oak barrels gives it a buttery tone, which is comparable to toast, coconut, vanilla or toffee flavors. Continue reading
There are some quirky wine gifts around, including wine flasks for campers and novelty wine glasses but if you want to buy a gift for a wine connoisseur, you cannot go wrong choosing something traditional. It is not true that every wine fan already has everything wine-related that they could possibly need. After all, we can all make use of an extra set of Riedel wine glasses or Cuvee Prestige champagne flutes or another wine bottle sealer.
Practical gifts like wine storage solutions, fine wines and other wine-related articles will all be appreciated by a wine connoisseur. When in doubt, choose wine accessories rather than wine, unless you know for sure which wine your friend prefers. There are gifts to match all budgets and you can either browse what is available in stores or specialty wine shops or you can order something online from a reputable company.
It is fun to buy gifts for wine lovers because they can have more than one of everything and enjoy collecting them. Anyone who enjoys collecting fine wines should also enjoy amassing a beautiful collection of glassware and that can include wine glasses, champagne flutes, and decanters. Continue reading
Perhaps you have noticed that when reading about which types of wines age well, New World wines are often omitted from the list. Why is this exactly? Can you not age New World wines in a wine cellar? If not, what is the reason?
A New World wine is a wine which comes from Australia, California or somewhere relatively new to wine production (unlike France, Spain, Italy and other Old World places). Although these New World vineyards use the same grape varieties as the Old World ones (for example you can get Old World Merlot and New World Merlot), the wines are different and most of the difference is down to the climate.
The balance of a wine means its alcohol level (or sugar level) as well as the wine’s acidity, fruitiness, and tannin. High tannin and acid levels increase the longevity of the wine, which means it will keep for longer. Grapes lose acidity as they ripen and the sugar level goes up. New World wines are produced in warmer climates and use riper grapes, which is why most of them are higher in alcohol and less suitable for aging in wine cellars. Continue reading
The primary function of wine labels is to give information about the contents of the bottle. What type of wine is in there? What is the alcohol content? In which year was the wine produced?
Another reason to use wine labels is to make the bottles stand out. If you are looking for a specific wine, speed-reading the labels can help you to select the right wine in no time. If you are making your own wine, you can also make your own labels. This is fun and you can be really creative. If you make some good ones people will stop asking you whether you made your wine in the bathtub and start asking if you have your own winery (with a bit of luck!)
Making Wine Labels with a Computer
Design your wine labels on the computer using your favorite design program. If you already have Photoshop, use that. If you prefer PowerPoint, Avery label designer or another program, use that instead. Design programs range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars and you can also download free ones. Continue reading
Some people age wine so there is always a bottle on hand when they fancy a drink or when they throw a dinner party. Other people enjoy aging the wine to increase its value and sell it for a profit. Whatever your reasons for collecting wine, it is worth learning which wines age well and which do not. It is a fact that most wines are sold ready-to-drink. If you want to keep a ready-to-drink wine in your wine cellar, you should open it within a year (or preferably sooner, unless you have great wine cellar conditions) because ready-to-drink wines are not designed to be aged.
Ready-to-drink wine has already reached its peak and will only deteriorate if you store it for a prolonged period of time. Cheaper wines are usually ready-to-drink and more expensive ones are usually good for storing (although this is not always the case).
Some wines do improve with age however and buying these means you have a longer period of time in which to store it and you do not have to open or drink it right away. If you collect wine, you can gradually add to the variety and size of your wine collection, being limited only by your budget and the size of your wine cellar. Continue reading
Wine labels in the United States can be quite basic although most bottles have a label on the back of the bottle too, offering further information about what is inside, how it was made and what to serve the wine with. There are different laws for different countries about what has to go on a wine bottle label.
The label on the back of a bottle of wine is more of a guideline than anything else. This is where there producers “sell” the wine, saying how nice it goes with roast beef or blue cheese and how rich and smooth it is.
You can use this kind of information as a general guideline. You can also use the price as a general guideline. Just because a wine costs less than eight dollars does not mean it will taste bad. Also, paying more than fifty dollars for a bottle of wine does not mean you will prefer it to a more economical wine. Wine is largely about personal preference, although being armed with a little basic wine information also helps you to make a good choice. Continue reading
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