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Wine Tips For Dummies: A Concise Overview of Wine

This guide with wine tips for dummies is not for any type of dummy at all.  When people start enjoying the pleasure of wine, they might be “struck dumb” by how good it tastes. The first thing people might learn are some wine terms. This way they can have a conversation with other wine lovers just like an expert. It is also good to know these terms to purchase or order wine. These are the terms that might be seen on a description, menu, or label.

Wine spread by wickenden, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  wickenden 

If a novice wine lover begins to compare these terms with their own experiences tasting wine, they will begin to get a clearer picture. In no time at all, these terms will become part of that person’s vocabulary!

Wine Tips For Dummies: Common Wine Terms And Descriptions

Aroma / Bouquet: This describes the wine’s smell. Bouquet might be used more to describe vintage wines, but really the two words mean the same thing.

Body: This describes the weight or fullness of the wine in your mouth. It could be heavy, medium, or light. It sounds professional to say heavy or light, but not thick or thin.

Dry: This means that the wine isn’t sweet. “Fruity” just means that the flavor suggests fruit, but it does not always imply that the wine is sweet. It could be dry.

Finish: This simply describes the impression the wine leaves in your mouth as you swallow.

Wine Tips For Dummies: Wine Naming Conventions

Wines are usually named after the place that the grapes were grown or the type of grapes. Sometimes, this is a hard and fast rule, especially with many types of distinctive wines. At times though, this definition is looser in casual conversations. Wine names should be used correctly on labels, menus, and descriptions, but now always in casual conversations that are not really about wine.

Consider the example of Burgundy and Chardonnay. Burgundy is an actual place in France that is famous for growing wine. Chardonnay is a type of grape. You can find Chardonnay wine from France, but also from California or even Texas! A Burgundy wine should only be from France, though one might see domestic wine described to be similar to a Burgundy.

Champagne is also a very specific geographic region in France. It is probably the most distinctive example of a type of wine that is named after a place. True champagne comes from France.

It is possible to see California sparkling wine that is described as California Champagne, but this is not accurate to a purist. It is simply a California sparkling wine. This does not always make it worse or better, but is simply a naming convention to keep in mind. In casual conversation, somebody might says, “Let’s break out the champagne to celebrate New Year’s.” If the label actually says that the bottle contains a California sparkling wine, that really does not matter. A polite guest would keep his knowledge to himself.

On the other hand, if you see California sparkling wine advertised on a label or a restaurant menu, you might be skeptical of the seller’s expertise or honesty. Of course, you might attend many “Champagne Brunches” were the beverage is really good US sparkling wine. That is just a phrase, and probably only people in France really care.

Some other common wines that are named after places are Chianti (Italy), Port (Portugal), and Sherry (Spain). Not all place-named wines come from France, though that is a very famous country for producing grapes.

Some American producers, for example, might incorporate their origins with the grape name. This is partly because US wine producers are trying to build up their brands and identification. For example, it is common to see wine labelled as California Chardonnay or Texas Riesling. There are many parts of the US that are good for wine production. Of course, this is true of other countries that are not normally associated with traditional wine.

Does It Matter Where Grapes Were Grown?

Even wine snobs, especially those from these new wine producing countries, are beginning to accept the value of wine that is not European. Wines are also imported from South America and Asia. Of course, true wine lovers also still enjoy good German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese wine too.

People from the US wine-producing states, or surrounding areas, might be proud and happy to see wine produced locally. They may even take the opportunity to visit the local winery for a wine tasting. If the wine is good, and many are, they do not care if it was imported from Europe or simply shipped up the highway.

Wine Tips For Dummies: How To Order And Buy Wine With Confidence

Nobody is really reading about wine for dummies because they are “dumb.” Nobody knows everything about wine. There are too many sources and new brands popping up for anybody to be an expert on everything. Always remember that the true purpose of wine is to be enjoyed, and not to show off knowledge about grape-growing regions, types of grapes, or even specific wineries. The people who know the most about wine are never afraid to look “dumb” by asking questions!

People have different tastes, so nobody can really say which wine is best. Some people only like sweet wine, while others prefer dry wine. The right type of wine might also depend upon the rest of the meal. For example, white wine is traditionally served with fish and chicken, while red wine goes with red meat. Of course, these rules may get broken all the time, and nobody really suffers.

Part of the fun of wine is experimentation. Sometimes a wine might not become a favorite, but it is also the only way to discover new vintages, grapes, and growing areas. Wine lovers should be bold enough to same new varieties all of the time. Also remember that very expensive wine might not really be better for every situation. The best wines are the ones that taste best to the wine lover enjoying them!