More of a wine-o than a whiskey lover? We have a number of events crafted just for those who go gaga for grapes, led by experts like master sommelier Michael McNeill. Wine tasting can get a bad rep of being intimidating and even a little uninviting. Not so with our pros! They’ll be there to help answer any questions you have about the process or tastings being served. And since we’re on the subject, we’ve gathered a few key facts to get you well on your way to becoming a wine expert of your own.
Meet the Grapes
It’s easy to stick with what we know, and maybe we’ve gotten a little too cozy with our favorite Target budget wine. To master tastings like a pro, it’s good to know the whole range of wine. All 18 noble grapes. Noble grapes are the most popular, internationally-produced grape varieties. With nine red and nine white, they make for a whopping total of 18.
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Chenin Blanc
The grape industry is a big one, with many countries leading the way in producing popular wine. Here are the top three countries, and the wines they create:
France sells cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, pinot noir, granache, syrah, viognier, and chardonnay.
Italy is known for its sangiovese, nebbiolo, barbera, moscato, and pinot grigio
United States produce cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, chardonnay, merlot, zinfandel. And within the U.S., 90% of our wine production is done in California, Washington, and Oregon.
The Sensory Experience
When sampling wine, there’s so much that can be discovered in terms of its scent, texture, and taste. But there are three main tastes that we primarily experience when sipping on wine.
Sweetness: Whether it’s a fruity-sweet or due to its sugar content, a wine’s sweetness is one of the first things that we taste. In general, alcohol is naturally sweet so wines with a higher alcohol content will usually have a more prominent sweetness.
Bitterness: Probably the subtlest taste you’ll experience, bitter wines are often ones that have not fully matured. Bitterness is also related to a wine’s tannin content. Tannin is a bitter-tasting organic substance found in grape skins, seeds, and stems.
Acidity: Acidity is the sharp, tart taste that comes from how ripe the grapes are. As grapes ripen, their acidity levels will diminish and won’t taste as tart.
To Swirl and Sniff or Not to Swirl and Sniff?
If you’ve been at wine tastings before, you’ll probably have noticed people sniffing and swirling their wine. You don’t have to do this, but it does enhance your tasting experience for a couple reasons:
- Holding your nose up to the glass and sniffing will allow you to recognize and isolate certain flavor components of the wine. Plus, much of the taste is linked to its smell, so without smelling the wine you won’t be able to taste it in full.
- Swirling allows for more oxygen in the wine. But, if you let a glass of wine sit overnight, the oxygen will oxidize the wine entirely and produce a flat, bitter taste.