I love wine. I fell in love with it during my years living in California. Napa valley was a couple of hours away, and spending a day touring wineries and tasting was something I always looked forward to.
Many people I talk to say they don’t like wine. WHAT? How can that be? There are thousands of types and brands of wine. How can you not like it? The answer is, they haven’t tried enough varieties to find one they think tastes good.
Wine is usually made from fermented grape juice. The earliest form of grape-based fermented drink was found in northern China, where archaeologists discovered 9000-year-old pottery jars. Yep, for millennia man has consumed fermented grape juice. Due to a natural chemical balance, grapes ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients. All you need to do is add yeast to consume the sugar in the grapes, which converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide.
Wine is usually named after the grape it comes from, such as Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Merlot. When one of these varieties is used as the predominant grape (usually defined by law as minimums of 75% to 85%), the result is a "varietal" as opposed to a "blended" wine. Blended wines are not considered inferior to varietal wines, rather they are a different style of winemaking; some of the world's most highly regarded wines, from regions like Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley, are blended from different grape varieties.
European wines can be classified by region (e.g. Bordeaux, Rioja and Chianti), while non-European wines are most often classified by grape (e.g. Pinot noir and Merlot). Market recognition of particular regions has recently been leading to their increased prominence on non-European wine labels. Examples of recognized non-European locales include Napa Valley, Santa Clara Valley and Sonoma Valley, Anderson Valley and Mendocino County in California, Willamette Valley and Rogue Valley in Oregon; Columbia Valley in Washington; Barossa Valley in South Australia and Hunter Valley in New South Wales; Luján de Cuyo in Argentina; Central Valley in Chile; Vale dos Vinhedos in Brazil; Hawke's Bay and Marlborough in New Zealand; and Okanagan Valley and Niagara Peninsula in Canada.
I love going to wine parties. Everyone brings a bottle, and you get to taste a lot of different kinds. Through my experience I’ve found I dislike chardonnay, but I do like dry wines because I don’t think they don’t have a lingering aftertaste. I also like sweet wines. Ice wine (or icewine; German Eiswein) is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It is my all-time favorite. It is served cold and I’m telling you, this stuff is the nectar of the gods -- absolutely delicious. If you like Moscotto, you should try it.
The terms—dry, sweet and semi-dry—refer to a level of sweetness or residual sugar in a wine. A wine is considered “dry” when all of the grape sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, while a sweet wine still has some residual sugar. “Semi-dry” or “off dry” wines have a mild or softly perceptible sweetness.
These terms can get confusing quickly, because sweetness sensitivity varies from person to person, and because sometimes a wine can be technically dry but give the impression of being sweet because the grapes were very ripe or the oak barrels imparted a sense of sweetness—like a caramel or cream soda note—to the wine.
Through a lot of trial and error, I found a red wine I like: Shiraz. According to the experts, it has dark fruit flavors from sweet blueberry to savory black olive. When you taste Shiraz you'll be greeted with a punch of flavor that tapers off and then has a spicy peppery note in the aftertaste. I don't know about all that, I just know it tastes good.
So you see, with so many to choose from, there’s no reason you can’t find one you like. Have a party! Experiment! Drink up!
I love to hear your comments! Tell me what kinds of wine you like...