Wine is the gift of the grape. When you attend a wine tasting, you’ll start to understand some different varietals, helping you realize which wine and food pairings you enjoy. Wine tastings will ultimately help you discover wines you had not thought to try. Mary Ewing-Mulligan, a Master of Wine since 1993, notes, “When you only know so much, you are very attracted to what you know.”
With that in mind, we offer a taste of wine types, and a little more:
- Humans have long had a love affair with the intoxicating spirit of the grape. With remnants of a romance dating back to 6000 BC, wine has moved forward in time, worshipped in the form of Dionysus by the Greeks and used for religious, communal, and personal enjoyment throughout the Middle East, Roman Empire, China and beyond. Legend holds Shiraz wine was discovered by an Iranian woman who sought suicide by eating spoiled grapes upon her rejection by the king. Instead, she was rewarded for her adventurous wine testing when she presented her discovery to the king.
- By demographic group, there are more Millennial wine consumers in the United States. But Baby Boomers edge out Millennials as “high frequency” drinkers and still represent the group consuming the greatest total volume of wine in the country.
- What about wine? There are several types of wine, including full-bodied red or white wines, medium-bodied reds, light-bodied reds and whites, rose wines, aromatic whites, dessert, champagne and sparkling wines. Wines are also produced by fermenting fruits and cereals.
Popular types of wine include white wines like Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Well-known reds include Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Try these pairings:
- Chardonnay plays well with salads, fried chicken, and poultry.
- Riesling pairs happily with pork, poultry, and spiced foods.
- Sauvignon Blanc is a good companion for meats, vegetable dishes, soft cheeses, and soups.
- Pinot Gris is another light white wine that plays well with others, including pasta, poultry, vegetarian, salads, and seafood.
- Shiraz is a reliable companion to meats or poultry.
- Pinot Noir is a friendly, light red that works with a variety of seafood, meat, poultry and spiced world food dishes.
- A medium red, Zinfandel is a light-hearted companion to pizza, pasta, poultry, burgers, vegetable dishes, aged cheeses, and soups.
- Merlot pairs well with meats and poultry.
- Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine that makes a solid companion to poultry, grilled meat dishes, Mexican, barbecue dishes, and dark chocolate treats.
One of the best ways to learn about wines is to talk and taste. Attend a local or regional wine tasting event to experience wine while you learn about it. Speak with experts and non-experts, and enjoy the friendly and informative atmosphere. Cooking classes and gatherings also offer a chance to experience novel food and wine combinations that spark your imagination—and your taste buds. For special occasions, a night out for a prefix dinner experience offering wine pairings for the various courses is also a great way to treat yourself to a lesson in wines. Inviting your friends to a wine tasting event where everyone brings a bottle of wine is another way…just make sure you drink the better wines first.
You can advance your wine education with simple guides that help you understand and develop an appreciation for the composition and geography of your favorite wines. Understanding how to pronounce a wine is an easy way to help yourself in conversation about wines that interest you.
The shifting environmental picture impacts grape growers around the world as some geographic regions become too dry for vineyards, while others are imperiled by climate change. This summer, a California fire outright destroyed a vineyard in Monterey County, and smoke threatens to contaminate surrounding area vineyards. Earlier this year, researchers from Harvard University and NASA reviewed 400 years of climate data to conclude that warmer temperatures are driving earlier harvest seasons—a finding that could prove a boon or a bust for vintners around the world.
Learning about types of wines opens a door to history, chemistry, horticulture, and environmental topics, among others. Research your favorite wines online, take a class, or attend a wine tasting event to taste and treat yourself to fine wines and good company.