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10 Most Important Things To Know About Wine

Written by Madeline Puckette

Wine is a complex topic that is intermingled with history, culture, agriculture, geology and genetics. So how can you learn more about wine without getting bogged down by details?


For the longest time, wine has been learned by region and in the past this worked well. However today, since wine is made everywhere, the regional lines are blurred. So it’s time to develop new ways to learn about wine. As it happens, there are 10 fundamental things about wine that are pretty easy to grasp.

Below are the 10 most important things to know about wine.

10 Most Important Things To Know About Wine

We are guilty of bad math. It’s more like 18 things in ten different categories, but who’s counting?

What Are The Most Popular Types of Wine?

Want to find out what wine you like best? Check out just 18 different grape varieties, commonly referred to as international varieties. They include light sweet white wines like Moscato and Riesling to deep dark red wines like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Once you’ve tried all 18, you’ll actually have a pretty good handle on the entire range of wine. You’ll also know more about your personal preferences.


What Are the Most Popular Wine Regions?

Knowing that Italy, France and Spain are the top three wine producing countries in the world tells you three things. For one, they probably produce the majority of bulk wine in the world. Two, they also produce some of the best wine in the world. And three, France, Italy and Spain are the source of all of the most popular varieties of wine in the world.


Why Do Some Wines Taste More Tart Than Others?

Now that you know what wine is and where it comes from, find out what are the basic characteristics of wine? Some wines taste tart. The tartness of wine is called acidity. Some wines will warm/burn the back of your throat, which is the alcohol level. Finally, some wines leave a lingering bitter/dry taste in your mouth which is called tannin. Learn the basic wine characteristics so you can better describe what you like.


How Can a Wine With No Sugar Still Taste Sweet?

In the wine world we call this trait fruit forward. How is it that a completely dry (ie no residual sugar) wine can taste sweeter than other wines? There are a few factors that go into this phenomenon including grape variety, region and oak aging. For instance, if you have a Malbec from France compared to a Malbec from Argentina, the latter tastes sweeter. The region where the grapes grow greatly affects the flavor.

Perhaps this is a better way to describe what you like.

How To Ask For Wine You Like

Now that you’ve tried some wine and have opinions, how do you communicate to others what you like? Well, it helps to know what regions or varieties that you prefer, but what if there’s a better way?


Look Like a Badass When You Drink Socially

Wine is social. Learn about basic social wine etiquette. It will help you maintain cool and calm, even in the most intense dining situations… say, dinner at Per Se?


When are Most Wines Meant To Be Drunk?

90% of wine is meant to be drunk in the year it’s released. This is a fact. Some wines do, however, improve with age. Want to know the traits of an age-worthy wine? There are four traits: Acidity, Tannin, Low Alcohol and Residual Sugar. Not what you thought eh?


Why Wine Doesn’t Taste the Same Year to Year

Does this ever happen to you? You find a stupid-awesome wine and you buy a ton of it. Eventually you drink up your stash and buy more, except the new wine doesn’t taste the way you remember. You’re not crazy. Check the vintage, more than likely you’re a victim of Vintage Variation. Vintage variation happens more often in cooler climate regions. So if you’re a Pinot Noir lover, pay attention to vintage.


What Should You Expect to Spend on Decent Wine?

We all hear about them. Those amazing deals on fantastic wines; either declassified, relabeled or sold through a stressful 3-day sale site. Yes, some of these deals are great, but you can still find great wines without a discount tag. How much should you expect to spend on a decent bottle? And if you’re buying in a restaurant, how much does that bottle of wine really cost?


Drinking Wine is an Adventure

If you’re drinking the same old crap just to get drunk then you’re not really enjoying all the uniqueness wine has to offer. Wine is an accompaniment to life experiences–where you are and who you’re with. There will always be peaks and valleys. Expand your understanding by being experimental and trying new things. If you ask a wine expert what their favorite wine is, they’ll never give you a straight answer because the truth is, they love it all.

So you see, there’s no mention on how wine is made, or the nuances of the color of wine, because those aren’t as important. Remember, pay attention to what you’re drinking and use those observations to make educated guesses to seek out new wine.


Inspired by Quora This article was inspired by a question on Quora .

Written byMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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