Vino 101: Wine Lingo

January 17, 2013

Vino 101: Wine Lingo

On one of our Vino Latino Tours we had some guests that had a long discussion about tequila amongst themselves.  They used terms like “Anejo” and “reposado” and “Mezcal.”  This meant nothing to me since I don’t drink tequila.  In the same way, there are terms and lingo attached to wine that if you don’t know or understand, you might  not know what is in your glass.  

02 three-different-wines

WINE IS NOT COLOR BLIND: The first thing to learn about is the color of wine.  There is red wine, white wine, and rose`.  The only thing that makes wine red, is contact with red grape skins.  This is because the flesh of all grapes (except for a few varietals such as alacante bouschet) is clear or “white.”  Most “white” wines come from grapes with greenish or yellow skins.  However, many sparkling wines that are white are made from pinot noir, which is a red grape.  This is done by immediately removing the juice from the skin.  A rose` or pink wine is a wine that has had a little bit of contact with the red skins.  A really deep red wine has probably been in contact with the skins for weeks whereas a rose` has had contact with the skins for a few hours.   NAME THAT GRAPE! On a label you’ll often see the name of the grape variety such as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, etc.  This is simply the type of grape the wine is made from.  It’s very similar to apples.  When you go to a grocery store there are many types of varieties of apples.  You have a granny smith, red delicious, fugi, gala, etc.  They all taste like apples, but each has a special character that makes it unique to that varietal.  Granny Smith is often tart,  Fugi is sweet and firm.   More than likely when you go to the store you have a favorite type of apple you tend to buy. imgres This is exactly the same with wine grapes.  Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, zinfandel, etc are simply the names of different types of wine grapes.  They all taste like grapes but each has a different character.  The more you try wine the more you’ll start to learn what types of wine is your favorite       RESERVE? OLD VINE? Some terms you often see on a bottle are terms like “Reserve” or “Old Vine.”  These terms are integrity based, meaning there is no legal weight behind them.  A winery can put these terms on any bottle, and often the big producers do!  Yikes!  But the vintners we work with put the weight of their integrity behind their labels.   When they put “reserve” it’s usually their best barrels.  “Old Vine” usually refers to vines that are over 50 years old.  Voces Old Vine Zinfandel is made from vines that are 120 years old!  Solovino’s Resever Cabernet tastes much more elegant and refined than their regular cabernet.   At the end of the day, however, as my dad often said, “There are only two kinds of wine, the kind your like and the kind you don’t”  May you find the wine you like in your glass!

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