Simply wine

Two popular drinks are wine and beer, the difference between the two is that brewing beer involves fermented grains and wine is made from fermented fruit because technically, any fruit is capable of being used for making wine.

If it just says “wine” on the label, then it’s made with grapes and these grapes by the way are different from the grapes we buy from shops and vendors. Wine grapes are smaller, sweeter, have thick skins, and contain no seeds.

Simple things to learn are that wines can be light or full bodied and means the body of the wine depends on things like the sugar content and the alcohol by volume. Wine with high alcohol concentration will taste fuller than one with low alcohol concentration.

Simply, wine comes in these types

Rosé Wines

Rosé wines have a slight acidity, fruity bouquet and refreshing taste. They are also described as blush or pink and are just like red or white in that their colour tells you something about the character.

The typical pink colour, whether light pink or a little brighter is likely to be fruity and juicy. The pink wine will taste more berry like while brighter pinks will taste of peachy or melon like with floral notes besides the red berry taste.

Usually, when it comes to rosé wine the main thing to know is whether it’s dry or sweet. Typically, the deeper the pink, the sweeter and more intricate the fruit flavours. The pale pink will be on the drier and crisper side.

White Wines

White wines can be a little harder to read from appearance, and their flavours can be more difficult to guess but, the intensity of the colour will tell you something about the style and sweetness.

Pale yellow coloured wines with what is described as lemony are young, light-bodied and best enjoyed ice-cold. These are crisp white wines, and may have fruity, floral or even herbaceous notes of grass and green pepper A pale lemon wine is likely to be zesty with super high acidity! Think Sauvignon Blanc.

When aging takes place a lemon yellow wine turns more golden in colour and will develop notes of toast or honey. They will typically be lower in acidity, less crisp and smoother all round. Aged wines, typically dessert wines can also show a golden hue, often with tropical fruit flavours from being made with riper grapes.

Amber white wines will have flavours of nut, vanilla or toast and will be heavier in texture. A good example of an amber white wine is a sherry or other fortified white wine.

Red Wines

Reds are classified as ruby or purple, garnet or tawny. A purple or magenta tint indicates it’s a very young wine and can be very fresh, fruity and perhaps floral. Another common hue in red wines is ruby, which is also a sign of a younger wine, but often with more intense red and black fruit flavours with a touch of spice.

Garnet coloured wines have a higher flavour complexity and their richer darker colours tell you that the wine has been aged, and will therefore be less fruity than a ruby red. A good example is the popular cabernet sauvignon. It is likely be a more complex mixture of flavours but, the intensity of flavor softens over time, along with acidity.

Tawny, almost brown wine indicates it’s been aged for many years, probably decades. It usually refers to a fortified red wine such as Port (Tawny Port) or very old red wine where the ageing process has softened tannins over time, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture.

Sparkling wines

As long as the wine is bottled under pressure, the bubbles will flow when the cork is popped so, not all sparkling wines are Champagne. To be called Champagne, the wine has to be produced in the Champagne region in France. Which is why all other sparkling wines produced using the same grapes and the same method can’t be and should not be called Champagne. They are simply known as sparkling wines.

Sparkling is a style of making not a brand or variety of wines. Any wine can by adding fizz or carbon dioxide to it become sparkling wine. Red, white or rose wine and it can be dry or sweet depending on the winemaking process.

Some sparkling wines tend to be quite sweet and so are better suited to desserts.

Remember:

That there are some truly bad wines out there, and not all of them are the cheap ones. Some expensive wines turn bad as the result of bad corks or poor storage. If you are buying or ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant, you want to be certain that the wine you receive is of good quality.

You can’t always rely on the shop keeper or server to notice and replace a wine that is bad. Learn to sniff out common faults, such as a nasty smell, the temperature at which it is kept or even the date on the label. Knowing the signs of a bad wine certainly make it easier for you to send a wine back in an eating place or not buy it in a store or the market.

Boxed wines and inexpensive wines are generally better drunk immediately and not be stored for very long periods. Recommended is 16 months for whites, and 18-24 months for reds. Hence always check the best before or bottled dates!

Kwachalelo

A Zambian site sharing quick read articles around work, money and adulting life with selective interviews and quotes.
The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo