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Grape Expectations

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Grape Expectations

Choosing the right wine can seem utterly daunting to the uninitiated. A quick trip to the wine shop can turn into an ordeal as you ponder the immense diversity of choices on offer.

Choosing the right wine can seem utterly daunting to the uninitiated. A quick trip to the wine shop can turn into an ordeal as you ponder the immense diversity of choices on offer.

If you’re a wine greenhorn, you may look nervously at the shelves of unfamiliar labels and, in desperation, opt for a commercial wine you recognize from their advertisements. Strolling to the counter, you might remember your wife’s parting words, reminding you that you’ve been invited to dinner with friends who “love their wine.”

You’re suddenly gripped by doubt: surely a bottle of something that even you recognize will be inadequate. Cold sweat appears on your brow and panic sets in. How can you ever know the subtleties of this rather elitist fruit juice?

Don’t Be Afraid of Wine!

So which wine should you try? The best way to learn more about wine is to taste more wine, which, in moderate amounts, can be beneficial to health. Wine can be kept for a couple of days provided the cork is replaced or a wine-saving device is used.

Wine-by-Colour

Choosing between red or white wine does not always depend on the food it’s accompanying. Matching food and wine isn’t as difficult as you may think, and the old rules don’t always apply.

In the Red

Red wine comes in three styles: light, medium, and full-bodied. The style is determined by a number of things, including the amount of tannin in the wine, how “big” or delicate the flavours feel in your mouth, and also the finish (how it tastes after the wine is swallowed).

Is White Right?

White wine is defined by its dryness. Most white wines will range from very dry to medium dry with the exception of dessert wines and ice wines, which are sweet.

Matchmaking

With barbecue season soon upon us, you might want to try matching wine to your outdoor culinary choices. A chilled white wine is not always called for on warm summer days; ros?ines can be a good alternative. Served chilled, ros?ines have a more robust flavour than white wines, which will stand up to the big flavours often associated with the barbecue.

Another barbecue option is a light red wine made from the Gamay grape such as a Beaujolais. These wines are often served lightly chilled–not as cold as a white wine–but left in the fridge for an hour or two to give it a refreshing feel.

Grilled steak paired with a fruity, powerful, and peppery shiraz from Australia makes a great combination, especially in the evening as the temperature cools. The weight of this wine complements big food.

Keep a Wine Diary

Keep a notebook or special wine-tasting book to compile a list of the wines you try. Include information such as the taste, the cost, the smell (nose), and appearance, as well as how well it went with the food served. This creates an individualized record of the styles of wine you’ve enjoyed that you can take to the wine shop as your own personal buying guide.

One of the great pleasures to be found in wine is in the sharing. Consider starting your wine
exploration with someone you can share your costs and your thoughts with. Most importantly, enjoy the experience!

Wine Timeline

Probably first made in Asia Minor, wine was certainly drunk in Ancient Egypt and across Mesopotamia. Wine was exported across the rest of Europe through trade and conquest. The Romans may have made the most important contribution by bringing vine growing (viticulture) and wine making (vinification) to France, perhaps the spiritual home of wine. From Europe, settlers came to the New World, planting vines to make what has become much of the world’s most exciting wine.

Wine Glossary

noble rot - fungus that attacks grapes, concentrating the sugars and flavours
corked - general term referring to tainted wine due to fault with the cork
body - alcoholic strength combined with flavour intensity
breathe - allowing red wine contact with air for harshness to dissipate
tannin - flavour from skins and pips (seeds) of grapes
vintage - harvest or wine of a single year

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