Frequently Asked Questions About Wine
All your wine questions answered so you won't look like a fool.
- What makes red wines red and white wines white?
- Do you have to spend a lot of money to get a good bottle of wine?
- Are there any particular wines that are good 'all-rounders'; useful to have on hand at home?
- What is the best way to cleanse your palate between tasting different wines?
- What's the best way to pop a Champagne cork?
There are two factors in determining the colour of a wine: the skin colour of the grape varietal, and the process the grapes go through when they are made into wine.
Although red grape varieties are generally used to make red wine, their red colour would not be retained if the grape skins were not soaked with the juice. Red wines are usually kept in vats with their skins and seeds for longer periods of time than the white varieties; this process imparts colour, and also increases tannin levels.
White wines are typically de-stemmed and skinned immediately in the crushing process, thus removing any additional colour and bitterness found in the skins and seeds.
You can find decent bottles of wine in every price range. However, an inexpensive wine is not good value if you don't like it.
One way to measure value (the wine's price in relationship to how much you like it) is to choose a varietal you like, and try that varietal in different price ranges.
It's always a good idea to have a bottle or two of something you enjoy in stock at home. A good 'house' wine will be something fairly inexpensive, that you will enjoy drinking on its own, and versatile enough to go with most of the kinds of foods you most often enjoy.
For reds, the lighter wines are great to have on hand, such as Chianti, Beaujolais or a Merlot. Among white wines, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a lighter-style Chardonnay, or a Pinot Grigio are all good choices.
White bread is often used to clear the palate at wine tastings, as it has a very neutral flavour. Professional wine buyers will take a piece of bread and a drink of water between wines in order to judge each one from a fresh palate.
Firstly, make sure that the wine is ice-cold, and you have avoided shaking the bottle. Then, carefully away peel the foil, place one thumb over the top of the cork, and unwind and remove the wire cage.
Wipe around the cork with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. Assuming you're right-handed, grip the base of the bottle with your right hand and hold the cork tightly with your left. Hold the cork steady while you slowly twist the bottle. The cork will ease loose with a soft hiss, hold the bottle at an angle of 45° for a few moments to calm the initial rush of foam, and then pour small amount in each glass.