The Art Of Wine Tasting

People are normally rebuffed by the complexity of wine drinking and the whole language and knowledge surrounding it. Is wine drinking only reserved for a small, elitist caste? The answer is definitively "no"; everybody should enjoy wine and the good news is that you don't need a fortune to do it.

Learn french while drinking

France is the number one wine producer in the world so when you start drinking wine, you may stumble on a lot of words that you don't understand. The first essential quality of wine is the color -- wine comes in three basic colors:

Rouge (red): red wine is full bodied -- an intense experience -- and is normally served at room temperature (which is around 18 degrees Celsius [64.4 degrees Fahrenheit] or 5 minutes in an ice bucket).

Blanc (white): white wine is served chilled and is light bodied compared to red wine (the ideal temperature is 10 to 12 degrees Celsius [or 50 to 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit]).

Ros (pinkish): pink wine is a minor production compared to the other two kinds of wine, but is nevertheless extremely refreshing for the summer. Ros wine is also served cold.

I would suggest that you try the Ptale de Rose 1998 from the Chteau La Tour de l'vque. So these are the three basic choices that you encounter whilst choosing a wine. The other big question is the dryness or the sweetness of the wine. More robust wine is dry and some specific productions are intended to be sweet or even syrupy (as in the case of Pineau des Charentes and the Vin de Madre or Muscat). Syrupy wine is better when served with a dessert rather than with an entre.

A question of geography

The reason why wine is such a complex product is directly related to the geography of wine producing. Many factors are involved in the production of a nice wine: the climate, the soil, the presence of a river or an ocean, the amount of sun the grape will receive and the cumulated amount of rain in a year.

France is separated into numerous regions: the best region is Bordeaux in the southwest where you can find the Mdoc, the Saint-milion and the Pomerol.

The Saint-milion and the Pomerol red wines are particularly appreciated, especially the Chteau Ptrus Pomerol which is often sold at approximately $1,000 a bottle for a 1989 vintage.

Some fine wines are also bottled in the Bourgogne, the Alsace in the north, the Languedoc-Roussillon, and even Corsica.

Obviously, France is not the only wine producer in the world. Italy and Spain both offer extremely high quality wine. Chianti is rich and fruity red wine from Toscana, so make it your wine of choice the next time you drop by little Italy.

South Africa and Australia also work pretty hard to offer quality products. But for many Americans, the Napa Valley in California offers a wide wine selection.

Wine from Moldova is often inexpensive and pretty appreciable. The rare wines from the Republic of Georgia will take you to heaven and back with their rich and fruity flavor, the reference is the Kinz Marulli.

Ordering wine in restaurants

Wine etiquette is important when drinking in a restaurant; other people will be observing your moves. The waiter is likely to offer the wine card to the host of the table (the guy who's picking up the tab).

The wine connoisseur will navigate through the wine card with ease, ordering the right wine depending on everybody's taste. The wine waiter will bring you the bottle corked; the idea is to make sure that he brought you the right wine.

He will then open it in front of you and hand you the cork. Don't smell the cork, it's an amateur move; the connoisseur always looks for inscriptions or whether the cork is rotten (which is quite possible with really old wines).

After that, you will be offered a few drops to look at the wine, roll it around in the glass, smell it, and finally taste it. If you don't like it, it's time to return it. After all, some wines turn to vinegar. Although this occurrence is rare, it does happen. The waiter will serve you first, then the ladies and finally the men.

Whilst eating, it's proper etiquette to wipe your mouth with your napkin before drinking so that you don't stain your glass with grease or food.

When you are done with the bottle of wine, it is customary to turn it upside down in the ice bucket (with white or rose wine, which are after all, served chilled).

If you are new to wine, the best thing to do is to ask for advice. The wine waiter will guide you using all his experience; don't be shy because they love talking about wine and are naturally interested.

Building a cellar

The serious wine lover will always end up with a cellar. Vintage wine will offer you the best results with maturity. Some bottles aged over 100 years are still drinkable if well-preserved.

For some people, a cellar is an investment more pleasurable than the stock market since a vintage may double or triple in price after a year out of the market.

The cellar will provide your bottles with a constant temperature and humidity. If you are considering having a cellar, you can always build one in the basement, or you can buy a fridge type cellar.

Those state of the art cellars cost a fortune and are dependent on electricity, but if you happen to live in a penthouse, then a basement is non-existent. Some high-end apartment buildings sometimes offer wine cellars in the underground, but this is for the rich and famous.

The last drop

The best way to learn about wine is to trust your palate. Buy a note book and grade all the wines you drink and you will always find one that will please you, which might end up costing you a measly $10.

So close your eyes and enjoy a glass of wine, it's the next best thing to actually being in France drinking it!



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