How to Talk About Wine Without Sounding Stupid

Most guys aren’t exactly into the whole wine scene. Maybe we believe that it’s not manly enough, which shouldn’t be the case when AC/DC now have their own line of wines. Or, perhaps we’re just intimidated by the classier world of wine, after-all, it seems like a daunting and complicated place.

However, at some point, we’re bound to venture into this world. Perhaps a woman we’re interested in enjoys the vino. Maybe we’re invited to a social event where wine is served. Either way, it’s probably a wise move to at least know some wine basics so you don’t look like a complete imbecile when discussing wine.

Identifying Wine

Without a lot of previous wine knowledge, many of us are well aware that there are two basic wine colors, red and white. The difference between the two is that when making red wine the grape skins are left on, and, different grapes are used during the wine making process. Because of this, red wines are usually more intense and healthier for you because they contain more antioxidants.

The grapes that are used to make wine not also determine the color, they also give the wine it’s name. Here’s a simple list of wines that are named after the grape variety used to make it.

Wine Name Color
Barbera Red
Cabernet Sauvignon Red
Chardonnay White
Dolcetto Red
Merlot Red
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris White
Pinot Noir Red
Riesling White
Sauvignon Blanc White
Syrah/Shiraz Red
Viognier White
Zinfandel Red or pink

Other wines are named after the location where the grape was grown. Here’s a list of wines named after their place or origin.

Wine Name Origin Color
Bardolino Italy Red
Barolo Italy Red
Beaujolais France Red
Bordeaux France Red or white
Burgundy (Bourgogne) France Red or white
Chablis Italy Red
Champagne France White or rosé
Chianti Italy Red
Côtes du Rhône France Red or white
Mosel Germany White
Port (Porto) Portugal Red (fortified)
Pouilly-Fuissé France White
Rhine (Rheingau, Rheinhessen) Germany White
Rioja Spain Red or white
Sancerre France White
Sauternes France White(dessert)
Sherry Spain White(fortified)
Soave Italy White
Valpolicella Italy Red

Of course, that doesn’t help with the pronunciation, but thanks to the wonder of technology, there’s a video to help.


Wine Terms

Despite now being able to identify wine labels, there’s still a lot to learn. One of the most important things to know about wine is the terminology. These terms will assist you when discussing a wine to another person or understanding a wine’s description on a restaurant’s list. Here’s a small list if wine terms, but we suggest vising this site for more terms.

  • Aroma or bouquet: The smell of a wine. Bouquet applies for older wines.
  • Body: The apparent weight of a wine in your mouth, usually light, medium, or full.
  • Crisp: A wine with refreshing acidity.
  • Dry: Not sweet.
  • Finish: The impression a wine leaves as you swallow it.
  • Flavor intensity: How strong or weak a wine’s flavors are.
  • Fruity: A wine whose aromas and flavors suggest fruit.
  • House Wine: An inexpensive wine featured in a restaurant. Sometimes a winery does a special bottling and labels the wines for a specific restaurant.
  • Oaky: A wine that has oak flavors, such as smoky, toasty.
  • Soft: A wine that has a smooth taste.
  • Tannic: A red wine that is firm and leaves your mouth feeling dry.
  • Vintage: Describes both the year of the actual grape harvest and the wine made from those grapes.

Wine and Food Pairing

You’re most likely going to experience wine over a meal, it’s been that way throughout history. With that in mind, it’s rather important to know some general wine and food pairings. There’s probably going to be noting more embarrassing, and showing your ignorance, if you order the wrong type of wine at a restaurant while on a date or bringing the improper bottle to a dinner party.

Typically, red wines go well with heavier foods, such as beef and pasta with a tomato gravy. White wines are usually served with lighter foods, like salads, fish and poultry.

One tip to keep in mind is that when enjoying wine during a meal you want to go from light to dark, just like the meal. The lighter wines are served during appetizers, while heavier wines are served as the meal progresses. This explains why red wines are usually not brought out in the beginning of a meal. However, these are just the norms, and overall, it’s up to you to find a pairing that you enjoy.

If you want to find an exact wine for a specific meal we recommend visiting this site.

Other Stuff That You Should Know

It’s believed that people have been enjoying wine since between 6000 and 4000 BC.

France, Italy, Spain, the United States and Argentina are the top wine producing nations.

Last year, the U.S. surpassed France as the world’s largest wine-consuming nation.

As of 2010, there are about 7,626 wineries in the U.S. We suggest you visit one to learn more about the wine experience.

When attending a wine tasting it is perfectly acceptable to spit out a wine that you’re tasting. Of course, you don’t want to spit on the floor, but into a spittoon.

There are four stages for wine tasting; appearance, “in glass” (aroma of wine), “in mouth” sensations and “finish” (aftertaste).

The five steps during a wine tasting are see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor.

Wine should never be served at room temperature. Suggested temperatures are: Sparking Wine: 48˚F (9˚ C), White Wine: 53˚F (12˚ C), Rose Wine: 51˚F (11˚ C) and Red Wine: 62˚F (17˚ C).

Oxygen, sunlight, heat and frequent movement can spoil a bottle of wine if being stored for a long period time. This is why wine should be stored in a cool and dark location.

Older types of red wines need to “breath” after being opened. They may also require a technique called decanting.

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