Wine Wednesday: For Starters…

Hello, Wine Wednesday!
I love wine. In case you didn’t know. It’s a bit of an obsession and unfortunately, it’s been a tad neglected on my little blog. When I started the blog, I wanted to include a lot more wine products, knowledge, experiences, and just general ramblings that I have. I mean, what’s good food without good wine?? So, to alleviate this issue, I’ve begun Wine Wednesday – and this is the first post ever!

I debated a bit about how to begin. Do I dive right in with a particular wine I can’t get enough of? (watch next week)… Do I try to pair something with a dish I’ve posted here already? (Oh! Good idea!)… Or, should I start at the beginning? I realize a lot of you probably already know a bit (or a lot!) about wine. But for those of us who are sort of bumbling our way through the wine-o-sphere, I’ve decided, for this first post, to include a basic repitoire of wine terms – so that when I’m rambling on a few weeks from now, I don’t need to continually define what I’m saying AND you will have the tools to converse with me – that’s what wine should be about, right? Accessibility, conversation, fun, laughter and joint experiences. Oh. It should also be delicious too. Don’t be put off or afraid of wine language or culture – it’s all bullshit. Just have fun with it – the way we do with everything else!

Red or White Wine: Defined by the contact the grape has with the skin. No contact = white wine; Contact = Red wine. Of course, there are the odd ones that slip somewhere in between here (always an exception to the rule), but this is a pretty safe guideline.
Varietal: The type of grape used in the wine making process (i.e. Chardonnay, Shiraz).
Vintage: The year the wine was harvested. Thus, a Vinter is the person who makes the wine.

Region: Where the wine comes from.Body: The fullness of the wine – it may feel big in your mouth in which case it would be “full-bodied”, or not, in which case it would be “thin”. 

Palate: Your mouth and how you taste the wine.
Acidity: Necessary for wines to age and gives it a lively, crisp quality. Acid is tasted on the sides of the tongue and mouth.

Aroma: The smell of the wine. Also termed, “the nose” and in it’s entirety “the bouquet”.Tannins: The stuff in red wine that makes you pucker and drys your mouth out. The more tannins, the dryer and more lingering the wine will be. A naturally occuring enzyme in the skin of grapes, the more contact the grape has with the skin, the more tannins there will be. 

Legs: The “strands” left behind on a wine glass after you swish it around. 
Finish: The aftertaste and what’s left in the wine after you swallow.
Balance: The way a wine comes together. Acidity, alcohol, fruit, and tannins should not outweigh one another.
Character: The sum of all the wines parts.
Oxidation: When air accidentally gets into the wine – often causing it to spoil. This happens regularly when people leave open wine too long. Generally, red wine lasts up to 4 days after being opened (tops!) and white wine up to about 5 or 6. After this, the wine as “gone off” and you’ve got cooking wine!
Fermentation: The process by which the yeast added to the grapes transforms the sugar to alcohol. 
Decanting / Breathing / Aerating: This is a process of opening red wine before serving it (usually from 20 minutes to an hour or more) to allow the wine to develop it’s full flavor. This can be done in a “decanter” (a fancy glass bottle, essentially), or just leaving it open on the table. 
Typical descriptors (these won’t mean much to you until you start drinking, experiencing, and analyzing the wine. However, there is NO wrong sight, aroma, flavor, etc… it’s all subjective so don’t ever feel like what you feel or don’t feel is wrong!): full bodied, floral, astringent, big, bold, delicate, light, airy, chocolate, vanilla, mellow, harsh, cat pee, grassy, oaky, woody, spicy, flat, fruity, fat, crisp, chewy, earthy, sweet, smooth, elegant, fresh, cloudy, long, ripe, sulfuric, yeasty, bitter, aggressive, cooked, honeyed, nutty, etc… There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how you experience wine – so say what you feel, even if it’s simply just “good” or “bad”.
  • detailsjuliette
    July 27, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Well, thank you! I knew most of these terms, but I also learned some new ones.

  • Neha@ Allthingsbeautiful
    July 27, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Thanks for writing this post, I learn so much about wines here!

  • ClaireBear
    July 27, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    FUN! I can’t wait to keep reading wine wednesdays!!! I LOVE WINE. I mean love it. And man o man do Hubby and I bumble around in the aisles. We don’t really know what’s good so we try a different one everytime. SO hit or miss that way hahahah. I’m really interested in pairings. I have a dream that I’ll be able to have a dinner party and with each course serve a different wine to complement the dish. Yep. One day 🙂 Perhaps with your help?! Looking forward to next Wednesday xo

  • Peggy
    July 27, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Love this new series! And I love that you started from the “beginning” – I’ve been drinking wine for so long, but never really can converse about it =)

  • patience
    July 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    oh my gosh…i think i may have just learned something! i’ll have to come back and read this all over again when i’m not at work (gasp! she blogs at work!!).

    and then…maybe in 20 or so years…i’ll grow to like red wine.

  • Kristy Lynn
    July 30, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    @ everyone: Oh yay!!! I’m so glad everyone has enjoyed this! Can’t wait for next week!