Uncorked (The Novice’s Guide to Wine) by Paul Kreide

Introduction. The first wine cultivation was found more than 6000 years ago. It is essentially fermented grape juice. This book will teach you how to appreciate wine. After reading, you will have rudimentary knowledge and be confident when you step in wineshops. This book will pique your curiosity. France is the motherland of wine. Merlot is pronounced as ‘merlo’; Caberet as ‘cab-er-ay’; Pinot as ‘pee-no’; noir as ‘nwah’. After reading, you will be able to communicate with the wine community better.

Drinking and Tasting. Drinking is different from tasting. Tasting focuses on characteristics of wine and their complexity. Tasting portions are usually smaller as well. Only your opinion matters and people can have varying opinions on what tastes good and what doesn’t.

Don’t trust your first sip. Never trust your first taste. This is because it will be affected what food was contained in your mouth previously. To clear your palate, chew on some breadsticks. Rinse your mouth and then you will be ready. For wine tasting, line your wines up, starting from the lightest to the heaviest (white to red). Your palate will be able to adjust better.

Why red is red and wine isn’t. Juices of all grapes are translucent and are without color. White Grapes have their skin removed and are crushed. Later, it is fermented in a wine or barrel. This is how white wine is produced. For red grapes, after crushing, the skin is exposed to the juice for about a week in order to ferment. This gives it the red color. Champagne might be made from a red grape even though it is not red in colour. It all depends on how long has the juice been exposed to the skin.

Wines your grandparents drank. In the past, in the US, wine companies named their wines after the Europeans. The Europeans were upset because these wines were produced in America and naming it was a marketing strategy.

Wine labels. The wine labels or fine print can be useful in aiding your purchase. Sometimes you can see information on the variety of grapes. If you see a bottle chardonnay, it means that at least 75% of the grapes must be the varietal chardonnay. For highly quality wines, the % might be even more. The appellation reflects the location where the grapes originated. Usually, if the designated area is small and tight, it means that 85% of the grape variety to make the wine is from there. If the vineyard is mentioned, it means that 95% of the grape variety to make the wine is from there. The year the grapes were harvested is the vintage. If only 1 year is mentioned, it means that 100% of the grape variety to make the wine is from that vineyard. This is also known as vintage wine. If there is a range of years, the wine is non-vintage. If you see the words ‘produced and bottled by’, it means the whole process is done by the vineyard.

How can a wine, a liquid, be dry? Dry wine is when there is no sugar and is the opposite of sweet. The drying of your mouth comes from the effect of tannin. Wine with too much tannin is termed as tannic. Tannin helps to preserve the wine and give it structure.

The colour is not just red and white. Red wine is not pure red, but rather some shade of ruby. White wine is not pure white, but a faint shade of yellow, straw. Observe the wine against a white background and you can see the colour of it. If the wine is slightly brown, it means it is slightly oxidised. A brick red-orange colour indicates that the wine is old. In general, the older the red wine, the lighter their colour. White wines get oxidized more easily than red wines. Sherry is actually wine that is intentionally oxidized.

Why don’t all cabernet sauvignons taste the same? It’s all about the grapes, how they were grown and harvested etc. There are too many variables in the production of wine. The type of yeast used, the temperature, amount of time for fermentation etc. There are many more variables that affect how the wine will taste like.

Oak in Wines. What happens in a wine barrel? 1) Oxidation; 2) Racking; 3) Evaporation (cause the wine to be more concentrated); 4) Picking up oak flavour.

Sediment. Sometimes, tartrate crystals might form at the bottom of the bottle. Decanting helps to get rid of any wine sediment in your first glass. When you see the sediment, stop pouring it in the decanter. The remaining wine from the bottle should be poured into a glass. Wine has high acidity and it is unlikely that any organisms can thrive in that environment. It is also possible to decant for air and let the wine be exposed to the air. For the next 20 minutes, the wine will taste smoother after exposure to air. Make sure the wine get splashed and swirled about in the decanter.

Sulfites: what’s the big deal? Some wines are added with sulphite to prevent oxidation. After the oxygen has combined with the sulphites, it will combine with other components of the wine. In the US, it is mandatory for sulphite content to be listed on the bottle label. There is no proof that sulphites cause headaches. Drink a lot of water after consuming wine to prevent headaches. There is a higher water-to-alcohol ratio in beer than in wine.

Cork Conflict. Some people say that cork contaminates the wine by its wet cardboard smell. Screw-downs are popular but they are also cheaper to produce. You also get economies of scale when you buy the screw-downs in bulk. However, popping a real cork is part of the whole wine experience.

Corked Wine and TCA. Please learn to smell the cork before opening the bottle. If the wine tastes like cardboard, it is probably contaminated with TCA. TCA will not harm you in low concentrations, but the wine won’t be pleasant to drink. However, most corks are sanitized with hydrogen peroxide and the TCA threat is largely eliminated.

ML (malolactic) fermentation. This is when wine is fermented by bacteria rather than yeast. It helps convert malic acid to lactic acid. Some chardonnays undergo this ML fermentation and taste softer, rounder as a result.

Sweet wines and the wine cycle. Sugar tastes good and some people like sweet wines. Sometimes, in dessert wines, the yeast cells have been removed or it has been fortified. If you are serving it with a dessert, choose a sweet wine that is sweeter than the dessert. Sweet wines should be the last on your palate. Some people’s taste changes over time.

All About Wine Snobs. Present yourself as a student and people will be willing to educate you. Do not be ashamed of being a wine snob. Behavior and tone is very important.

Smelling and Tasting. Food tastes good if it is exposed to air. That is why some people chew with their mouths open. When you slurp on your wine, you are actually taking in more air. As you swallow your sip of wine, breathe in and intake the little burst of air. Keep drawing in air when you sip wine. Do not drink coffee before drinking wine or drink when having a cold. It will take you time to recognize smells and tastes. Be wary of fatigue after a while.

Enjoying Wine by Using a Thermometer. White wine cannot be served at too low temperatures, or it will taste like cold liquid. For sparking wine etc, the colder the better. For white wine, if you soak it in ice, let it be exposed for at least 10 minutes before drinking. For red wine, put it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and drink it. For white wine, the optimum temperature is 7.22 degrees. For red wine, the optimum temperature is 20 degrees.

Getting the data to your receptors. Look at the meniscus of the wine against a white background. To taste the aroma, use a proper wine-glass. Spin the glass at most 5 or 6 times. Stick your nose into the glass and breathe in. At the start, sip the wine so that more air can enter your mouth. Blind tasting can be fun too.

As you swirl the wine, these points rip the wine, causing molecules of wine to go into the atmosphere, an atmosphere that is neatly contained in the glass by its small opening. That glass is just waiting for you to sink your nose and attach olfactory receptors into its wonderful cloud. – Paul Krieder

Aging Wine Gracefully. Aged wine can be very desirable. A normal person making wine has little control over the variables that can affect the taste of the wine. Getting a cellar is one idea. Champagne does not improve with age. Start with something that has the potential to improve. Time could help to tame some of the heavy tannins. Your cellar should keep the wine at a near constant temperature of 22 degrees. Store wine on its side so that the cork stays moist. It can be a rewarding pursuit to collect and age wines.

Class on Glass. Wine might taste better in expensive glassware. It can have better aroma. Learn to hand-wash your glasses.

Water in Wine. Some people drink excessively at events. It is important to serve food with wine. Cheese or prime rib roast will work well. Have plenty of water available and make sure guests have enough water to drink.

Wine, especially red wine, acts as a diuretic, causing dehydration and thirst. By hydrating with water, your guests will avoid the drugged feeling that comes with dehydration and will also feel less of the effects wine causes some people the next morning when alcohol has sucked all the water out of their frontal lobes. – Paul Kreider

Wine Reviewers and Point Systems. Trying new wines and different types of wines is a way for you to develop your palate. Wine reviewers will tell you what sort of wine is good. Some wine reviewers only promote expensive stuff. When you taste for yourself and you find it good, that is the best wine that should be consumed. Do a tasting flight.

How to act in a tasting room. Approach the room with a sense of wanting to learn something at the end of it. You need to put in effort if you want to learn. After you sip, make a genuinely pleasant comment on how the wine tastes like. Learn to be polite and interested. Learn to tip the pourer and buy a bottle of wine.

Case for buying a case of wine. But a case of wine and you can differentiate how the wine tastes when it ages. You will also receive a 10 to 15% discount for the purchase of a case.

Leftover wine. Pour different bottles of leftovers and then bottle it with a cork to prevent air from entering. Make wine coolers from the leftovers. Add in soda-water, lemon etc. Sangria can be a soothing drink. If you only have 1 bottle of leftovers, then use argon gas and pump it in the bottle to keep it fresh.

Wine is the Moment. Drinking wine is best done with someone else. It can be used in a very romantic setting.

Murder by heat. Heat is the enemy of fine wine. Heat can cause the cork to expand and contaminate the wine.

Restaurant Behaviors. Find out what people are eating so that you know what to pair them with. Light reds, pinot noir will go with most types of meat and food. One way is to order two bottles, a dry white wine and a heavier red. Smell the cork when you are tasting. An ice bucket is more appropriate for sparkling wines. If the red wine is warm, get the staff to place it in the cooler for 2 minutes.

Store your treasures, but use them. You may want to keep a few bottles for special occasions. Store your wine in a cool and dry place. Wine tastes best in a minimal range of temperature fluctuations. Try these wonderful wines.

wine-tasting

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