Wine 101

Let’s be honest: The best drink ever created is wine. It’s versatile, great for any occasion, and if you get the good stuff a hangover is almost nonexistent.

After about a year working in the wine industry, I learned a lot. Gone are the days of Franzia bags (though my budget keeps me devoted to Trader Joe’s wine label). It’s time to grow up and get to know your wine…well relatively grow up. Check out some facts I learned while working in California wine.

1. Where Does Wine Even Come From?

You might be thinking, "Hey Val! I know where wine comes from. The supermarket duh! And before that Italy. Pshhhhh."Well you'd be somewhat right...but mostly wrong. There are a few regions of the world that make the majority of the world’s wine. The top regions include France, Italy, Spain, United States, and Argentina. There are a multitude of other countries that do produce wine, but these are the top exporters and growers. Fun Fact: 8,000 year old wine jugs have been found in the country of Georgia, making it the oldest known country to produce wine. Yet an even older (9,000 year old) wine like fermented fruit juice has been found in China.

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You might be thinking, “Hey Val! I know where wine comes from. The supermarket duh! And before that Italy. Pshhhhh.”

Well you’d be somewhat right…but mostly wrong.

There are a few regions of the world that make the majority of the world’s wine. The top regions include France, Italy, Spain, United States, and Argentina. There are a multitude of other countries that do produce wine, but these are the top exporters and growers. Fun Fact: 8,000 year old wine jugs have been found in the country of Georgia, making it the oldest known country to produce wine. Yet an even older (9,000 year old) wine like fermented fruit juice has been found in China.

2. What Wines Pair with which Foods and Why is it Even a Big Deal?

A basic pairing guide goes like this:Red Wine- Meat and PoultryWhite Wine- SeafoodRose- Any Lighter Dish.Now why is this? Wine is supposed to be complementary to the meal you are eating. It is there to enhance the flavors of your food, not over power them. It is important when pairing wines with your dinner to make sure you can still taste the food! This being said: BREAK THE RULES. Go out and find the wines you like and how they complement your palate. Taste is everything in wine and you've got to follow your tongue!

Wine Folly / Via winefolly.com

A basic pairing guide goes like this:

Red Wine- Meat and Poultry

White Wine- Seafood

Rose- Any Lighter Dish.

Now why is this? Wine is supposed to be complementary to the meal you are eating. It is there to enhance the flavors of your food, not over power them. It is important when pairing wines with your dinner to make sure you can still taste the food!

This being said: BREAK THE RULES. Go out and find the wines you like and how they complement your palate. Taste is everything in wine and you’ve got to follow your tongue!

3. What’s the Difference between a Varietal Wine and a Blended Wine?

A varietal wine is 100% of the same grape. That means, that if a wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, then it would be considered a varietal wine. If a wine is blended, that means it its made up from more than one type of grape. For example, a wine made up of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Merlot. The Bordeaux region of France is famed for it’s blended wines, often resulting in softer and smoother wines that are calmer on the palate

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A varietal wine is 100% of the same grape. That means, that if a wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, then it would be considered a varietal wine. If a wine is blended, that means it its made up from more than one type of grape. For example, a wine made up of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Merlot. The Bordeaux region of France is famed for it’s blended wines, often resulting in softer and smoother wines that are calmer on the palate

4. When Should I Drink my Wine?

Most wines, fortunately, are ready to be drank in the year they are bottled. A good rule of thumb is that if the wine is under $30-$40, then you can drink it immediately. After that, it might be worth it to age the wine some. 99% of the world’s wines are meant to be drunk in the same year as they are bottled. But by ageing wine, a person can take a trip down memory lane to a special year or time that they wish to experience again.

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Most wines, fortunately, are ready to be drank in the year they are bottled. A good rule of thumb is that if the wine is under $30-$40, then you can drink it immediately. After that, it might be worth it to age the wine some. 99% of the world’s wines are meant to be drunk in the same year as they are bottled. But by ageing wine, a person can take a trip down memory lane to a special year or time that they wish to experience again.

5. I Opened My Wine! How Long will it Last?

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Depends on the type of wine! Red wine, corked and in a cool place, will last about 3-5 days. White wines and Rose will last about 5-7 days corked in the fridge. Sparkling wine will last about 1-3 days in the fridge with a sparkling wine stopper. Boxed wine (sometimes the best kind of wine) will last upwards of 28 days in a fridge.

Now that this is all said and done: Go out and enjoy some wine! But always enjoy your wine responsibly.