Wine 101: The Basics!
Hey there fellow/future wine enthusiasts!
I'm Gareth, and together with my brother Gavin, we run Wines Direct, a family-owned wine company that our father started back in 1993. We're here to share our passion for wine and make it an enjoyable, accessible, and most importantly, an unpretentious experience for everyone.
Ever since I was a child, I have been captivated by the world of wine. My father often took me to Bordeaux, where we would explore the vineyards, meet the winemakers, and learn about the intricate process of creating the finest wines. Those memories have shaped my lifelong love for this fascinating beverage and have inspired me to help others appreciate it as well.
Wine to me is not just a drink; it's a journey that takes us through culture, history, and geography. It is an adventure that anyone can embark on, regardless of their background or experience. We believe that the world of wine should never be intimidating or exclusive, and we want to break down the barriers that often discourage people from learning more about it.
Myself and my brother, Gavin, have been learning about wine and winemakers for over 20 years.
Our Wine Education Series aims to demystify wine by providing easy-to-understand information, engaging content, and practical tips that will help you navigate the vast universe of wine with confidence. We will guide you through the basics, from grape varieties and wine regions to food pairings and proper storage. You'll learn how to taste and appreciate wine like a pro while also discovering exciting new flavours and styles.
We invite you to join us on this exciting journey as we explore the wonderful world of wine together. Remember, learning about wine is not just for connoisseurs or sommeliers; it's for anyone who enjoys a glass and is eager to discover more. So grab your favourite bottle, and let's get started! Cheers!
At its core, wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes allows them to ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. The process of fermentation occurs when yeast, a single-celled microorganism, consumes the sugar in the grape juice and converts it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The result is a diverse range of flavours, aromas, and textures that can only be found in wine.
Wine production involves several key steps:
Harvesting: Grapes are harvested when they reach optimal ripeness, ensuring the perfect balance of sugar, acidity, and flavour. Harvesting can be done by hand or with the help of machinery, depending on the winery's preference and the specific grape variety.
Crushing and Pressing: After harvesting, the grapes are crushed to release their juice, which will become the base for the wine. The grape skins and seeds are either discarded or included in the fermentation process, depending on the desired style and type of wine being produced.
Fermentation: The grape juice is placed in fermentation tanks or barrels, where yeast is added. As the yeast consumes the sugar in the grape juice, alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on factors such as temperature and desired wine style.
Aging: Once fermentation is complete, the wine may be aged in stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, or a combination of both. The aging process helps to develop the wine's flavours, aromas, and overall complexity.
Bottling: After aging, the wine is filtered to remove any remaining particles and then bottled. Some wines may be aged further in the bottle before being released for consumption.
The main differences between white, red, and rosé wines lie in the grape varieties used and the winemaking process. Here's a brief overview:
White Wine: White wines are made from white grape varieties, and the grape skins are removed before or shortly after the grapes are crushed. This results in a clear, pale-coloured wine with a lighter body and more delicate flavours than red wines. Common flavour profiles include citrus, green apple, and tropical fruit.
Red Wine: Red wines are made from red and black grape varieties. Unlike white wines, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice during fermentation, imparting the wine's characteristic colour, tannins, and more robust flavours. Red wines typically have flavours of dark fruit, spice, and earthiness.
Rosé Wine: Rosé wines are made from red grape varieties, but the grape skins are removed from the juice after only a short period of contact (usually a few hours to a few days). This limited skin contact gives rosé wines their signature pink hue and a flavour profile that falls somewhere between white and red wines, often with notes of red berries, citrus, and floral undertones.
Wines are often classified by the region in which they are produced. Some of the most well-known wine regions include:
France: This country is home to some of the world's most famous wine regions, including Bordeaux, Champagne, and Burgundy
Italy: Italian wine is known for its diversity and includes regions like Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto
Spain: Spanish wine includes regions like Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat
California: The United States is also home to a number of notable wine regions, including Napa Valley and Sonoma County in California.
Varietal: This refers to the type of grape used to make the wine. Some common varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Vintage: This refers to the year in which the grapes were harvested. Wines that are labelled with a vintage date have been made using grapes from a single year's harvest
Body: This refers to the weight and texture of the wine in your mouth. A wine can be light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied
Tannins: These are compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes that give wine a dry, astringent taste
Acid: This refers to the tartness of the wine. Wines with high acidity are often described as crisp or refreshing.
If you're reading this it's safe to assume that you're interested in trying some wines. Below, we've got our Staff Picks 3 bottle case. It's got a red, white, and rosé wine from some fantastic producers that will really highlight the contrasting characteristics of the 3 main styles. Give a try, and let us know what you think!