Introduction to wine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hope this quick read will give you enough practical information to make you comfortable (if not expert) to talk, buy and taste wine.

Basic Varieties of Wine

  • Riesling (reese-ling)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (saw vee nyon blahnk)
  • Chardonnay (shar-dohn-nay)
  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (cab er nay saw vee nyon)

When you are buying wine, look for the brand (manufacturer), the region and the grape variety (above listed). Now a bit more information on how to serve and best regions to buy. By the way, there are 64 wine regions just in Australia.

Riesling (white)
  • A dry to sweet wine with fruit flavours
  • Better to drink within the first 2 years. Later it becomes more golden with tastes of honey and toast
  • Chill the bottle for one hour before serving
  • Serve in flute (long/champagne glass) to keep it chilled a bit longer
  • Good with spicy food or fish
  • Clare Valley and Eden Valley regions are renowned for Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc (white)
  • A dry wine with fruit flavours ranging from zesty lime to peach
  • Better to drink fresh, within the first 2 years. Ageing will lose its freshness
  • Chill the bottle for one hour before serving
  • Serve in a standard white wine glass to keep it chilled a bit longer
  • Good with cheese esp., goat cheese
  • Marlborough (NZ), Tasmania and Adelaide Hills regions are renowned for Sauvignon Blanc.
Chardonnay (white)
  • A dry wine with moderate acidity and alcohol and fruit flavours ranging from apple and lemon to papaya and pineapple.
  • Can age longer up to 7 years
  • Chill the bottle for 15 mins before serving
  • Serve in a standard wine glass as its bit bigger to aerate it a bit more and allow it to show itself
  • Margaret River, Adelaide Hills and Tasmania regions are good for Chardonnay
Shiraz (red)
  • A dry, bold, full-bodied wine with fruit flavours of blueberry and blackberry.
  • can age up to 5-10 years
  • Chill the bottle for 15 mins before serving
  • Served in glass little bit bigger than a standard wine glass
  • Barossa, McLaren Vale and Hunter Valley are renowned for Shiraz
Cabernet Sauvignon (red)
  • A dry, full-bodied, complex with fruit flavours of black currant and plum.
  • Can age longer for decades
  • Chill the bottle for 15 mins before serving
  • Served in glass much bigger with a larger bowl to allow it to breathe
  • Coonawarra, Margaret River and Yarra Valley regions are good for Cabernet Sauvignon

How to taste wine (4 steps)

  1. Sight – hold the glass at the stem, tilt and look for colour, depth of colour and clarity.
  2. Smell – smell and then swirl to open up the volatile compounds and smell again.
  3. Taste – taste first to calibrate your mouth from whatever you had before, drew some air in to aerate the wine, then taste the second time as it magnifies all the flavours.
  4. Finish – observe the finish and see how the flavours are playing. Longer the finish better the wine.

How to store wine in house

  • Find a place with no light (dark as possible), constant temperature (17-18 degrees ) and no vibrations.
  • Keep it in the carton and in the room least used (no laundry) and to the wall.
  • Ageing – make sure you like aged wines or youthful wines before you choose to do so.
  • Don’t keep that special bottle of bubbly in the fridge as the cork could dry out leading to the wine becoming oxidised.
  • Opened bottle – store in a fridge and drink whites within 1-3 days and reds within a week

Taste and experiment, experiment, experiment, experiment to know exactly what you like.

Now, few Titbits for the nerds !!

  • Wine is made from grapes family called “Vitis Vinefra” with over 8000 different varieties of grapes. Therefore, there is a huge choice and wine for every person.
  • Terroir (teuh waa) means the essence of the place where wine is grown ie., soil, air, sunlight and even person managing the vineyard.
  • Table grapes are not as sweet as wine grapes.
  • Red wine gets its colour from the skin.
  • Syrah is the French name for Shiraz.
  • Riesling is originated in Europe esp.. in Germany and Austria.
  • Riesling is sweeter if it’s below 10% alcohol.
  • Chardonnay came from burgundy in France.
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Verdelho are youthful wines. So drink them straight and don’t age them.
  • If it is a chilled wine then chill the bottle for a good 2 hrs.
  • Dessert wines are called “Stickys”.


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