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Wine For Beginners – A Guide to Choose the Right One

There is an increasingly large number of people who are becoming more and more interesting in delving into the world of wine. This, however, can seem like it entails quite a complicated initiation process, so this is why today we’re bringing you a brief wine guide for beginners.

If we want to start out journey in the world of wines correctly, it is important for us to be able to understand and tell the difference between the different types of wine based on a series of aspects that we will show you here.

Becoming an expert is a process that takes some time. Nonetheless, little by little, as we investigate, become interested and try different wines, we can all get to that stage. This is just the beginning, so let’s get started!

Aspects to Bear in Mind When Choosing a Wine for Beginners

In order to choose the right wine on each occasion it is essential to take into account a series of considerations, which are defined and explained hereafter:

  • In first place, we must consider what it the wine for – in other words, the situation in which we’re going to have it. Quite obviously, we won’t pick the same wine for an informal friend’s gathering and for an important dinner. If we are looking for a wine to have while meeting some friends, at a game’s night or any other informal situation, we will be better off going for a light wine. In this sense, rosé wines are always a good choice, but we always should bear in mind the guests’ preferences. On the other side, when we have to choose a wine for a more serious lunch or dinner, we must always consider at what point of the meal is it going to be had, since each wine has its own different role. If it is going to accompany the entrées, the best fitting wine is a lighter white or rosé wine; red wine is always an ideal option to pair with the mine dishes; while if we are looking for a wine to partner desserts, we could choose a sweet wine. Finally, if we want something to toast with, the best option is undoubtedly a bubbly wine.
  • It is also indispensable to consider the time of the year when we are attempting to pick the right wine. In summer, it is more palatable to go for a fresher wine, which is the reason why we usually recommend white and rosé wine. We can also consider opting for a bubbly wine, since meals are also usually lighter, and these wines match these situations quite well.
  • The wine’s alcohol content (or percentage) is another important aspect to take into account, not only because of how this can affect us, but also because this aspect, together with the wine’s acidity and tanning, make up the whole body of the wine. The wine’s alcohol provides it with character; its acidity gives wine its freshness; and finally, its structure is granted by its tannins. If a wine has a high grade of alcohol, acidity and tannins, it will be a wine with good potential for ageing.
    • A wine’s alcohol content can vary according to the wine type in the following way:
      • Wines with lighter bodies are those found between 10 and 12% of alcohol content and tend to be white and rosé wines.
      • Wines with medium bodies are those wine with around 12 to 14% of alcohol content and are usually red wines.
      • Wines with a more intense bodies are commonly red, sweet, or fortified wines with over 14% alcohol content

Information That We Can Get from a Wine Bottle’s Label

Apart from all of the aspects previously mentioned, we should also learn how to read a wine bottle’s label. This will provide us with other kinds of information and help us start to get to know and distinguish the different varieties. Looking at the label, we can ascertain the wine’s brand or name, where is it from, if it is associated to any Designation of Origin, the type of wine, its age, the grape strain, its alcohol content and, of course, the name of the cellar where it was made.

  • Designations of Origin. These are the different geographical zones that have been administratively recognised with the end to establish a common classification for those wines made in that area that meet a series of conditions. In total, in Spain we can find around 70 established Designations of Origin. Some are very well known, like La Mancha, Rioja, Rueda or Ribera del Duero; whereas others are smaller, like Tierra de Leon or Vinos de Madrid (Wines from Madrid).
  • Grape strains. When considering wines, we must familiarise ourselves with the names of the different red and white grape varieties. Depending on the climate and soil conditions in each of the different regions, different grape varieties can adapt better or worse. One of the most known examples is given with white grapes, where we can see albariño grapes at Rías Baixas (Galicia), verdejo grapes at Rueda and viura at Rioja and Mancha. With red wines, we see some grape strains receiving different names depending on the region it is grown, like tempranillo grapes, which are also referred to as “cencibel”, “tinta del país (the country’s reds)” or “Ull de Llebre”.
  • The wine type or category is another of the essential aspects to consider. Depending on the designation of origin, wines can also differentiate from each based on the amounts of time that they have been aged for in either barrels or bottles. The traditional classification, which is also the most commonly known one, separates young wines (those which have not been aged in casks) from crianza, reserva or gran reserva, which are aged in barrels for increasing amounts of time before being bottled. Wines with longer ageing periods tends to be described as more “bodied” (i.e. more complex and with higher grades of alcohol and tannins), and also as having greater storing and ageing capacities.
    • Some wine labels do not specify the wine’s ageing type. However, they will usually have a brief description detailing the grape strain and the ageing processes that the wine has been through in their reverse label.
  • Finally, we can have a look at the size of the bottle. The most common size, which is the one used in most informal reunions, but also in the majority of special events too, is the 75cl bottle. However, there are many other options of greater size. These are ideals for big events or celebrations with many more guests, as well as to get a good, special present to any wine lover. In addition, these bigger bottles tend to be preserved better, so getting one of them will always be a right choice. Amongst the bigger bottle sizes, we can find:
    • Magnum bottles – 1.5 litres
    • Jeroboam bottles – 3 litres
    • Réhoboam bottles – 4.5 litres
    • Mathusalem bottles – 6 litres
    • Salmazar bottles – 9 litres
    • Bathazar bottles – 12 litres
    • Nabuchodonosor bottles – 15 litres
    • Melchior or Salomon bottles bottles – 18 litres

This is just a brief wine guide for beginners, and the key is to try, investigate, get interested and discover different wines. This is the best way to learn and enjoy great wine.

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