FAQ's

Are wines only made from grapes?

Technically, yes. In most wine-producing countries, wine is referred to the alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes. However, there are wines made from other fruits such as pomegranates, elderberries, dandelion flowers, pineapples, rose hips, cherries, bananas, and oranges. There are also wines made from grains; one good example is rice wine. Sap from certain species of palms, such as coconuts, Palmyra, and date palms, are also used to produce palm wine.

What is the difference between red wine and white wine?

White wines are made from pale- to green-skinned wine grapes, fermented without the skins, have fewer tannins, and tend to be lighter, crisp, and citrusy in the flavor profile. Red wines are made from red and purple wine grapes and undergo fermentation together with grape skins that impart a red color to the wine. Prolonged contact with grape juice to skins also means that red wines have higher tannins and fuller body. Red wines have wider flavor variety, and many red wines feature either fruity, berry, spicy, or even savory notes. In the end, both taste good.

What is rose wine?

Rose wines can be described as a midway between red wines and white wines. It is made by crushing the grapes and allowing the skins to soak in the juice for a short time only, typically around a day. This process adds a tinge of pink or onion color to the wine. Like other types of wines, only certain wine grapes can be made into rose wines. Small numbers of rose wine brands are made by mixing white wine with tiny quantities of red wine. Rose wine can be sweet, very sweet, semi-dry, or dry.

What is Champagne?

Champagne, in the strictest sense, is a sparkling wine that came and named after the Champagne wine region of France. Champagne wines can be made from either white or red wine grapes. Among the rules is that real Champagne are produced only from the following wine grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier. The same thing applies to European Union rules so you will not find champagne made in other European countries. Champagne is a popular wine because of its good balance of sweetness, acidity, and has a desirable mouthfeel caused by its fizz. It is associated with celebrations and so a favored wine in parties. But what about others labeled as Champagne but not made in other areas? The answer is they are not genuine.

What is sparkling wine?

Sparkling wine is any wine with ‘fizz’ or gas bubbles, making the wine ‘sparkle’ in the stemware. One good example is Champagne. There are red, white, or rose sparkling wines, and they can be dry or sweet. Sparkling wines is produced like champagne. It is also produced by performing the second fermentation in pressurized tanks.

How wines are made?

Winemaking is a complicated process, and some wines take years before they are bottled and sold. We will explain it as simple as possible. First, the grapes are harvested from the vine, sorted, inspected, and crushed. The resulting mix of grape juice and pulp, if used to produce red wine, is fermented. For white wines, the grape skins and juice are first separated before fermentation. The fermentation process is done by using natural yeasts from grapes, or by adding cultured yeasts. Yeasts turn sugars into alcohol, and after the desired alcohol content is reached, the fermented juice (at this stage is already wine) is transferred into either wood or steel barrels. These filled barrels are transported in wine cellars to age, which can take as long as three months to three years. As the wine ages, the wine master takes samples regularly to monitor the aging process. Once the desired flavor and maturity is reached, the wine is then filtered, bottled, labeled, and sold. The wine maker may perform other processes to impart desired qualities into the wine.

Who invented wine?

Winemaking is a very old art, but actually, it is very difficult to know which civilization first made wine. Substances that look like wine have been found in late Stone Age artifacts. Wine is mentioned in the Bible and some credit Noah as the inventor of wine (and the first to be intoxicated). The wine grape Vitis vinifera is found throughout Eurasia, so first emerging civilizations probably had their own versions of fermented grape juice that could be referred as wine. Winemaking facilities and techniques were discovered or documented in Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, and in areas what is now Armenia, Georgia, and Iran . It is more probable that people in these areas invented wine independently.

Is drinking wine good for you?

You probably heard about the effects of wine on health. Aside from being delicious and satisfying, wine has benefits to your body. Frequent wine consumption is associated with improved heart and mental health, and reduced risk of certain cancers. Countless studies have been done one wine and wine drinkers, and most support wine consumption for better health.

Are wine grapes similar to table grapes?

No. Winemaking grapes are bred to have more juice, more sugar, more acid, and thicker skins. The extra sugar and acid are needed for fermentation, while thick grape skins influence the flavor of the resulting wine.

Can anyone drink wine?

Wine is an alcoholic drink, so it should not be given to anyone who cannot consume alcohol. That includes underage individuals (below 18 years of age), pregnant or nursing mothers, individuals with health problems where alcohol can cause harm, and individuals recovering from alcohol abuse. Some religions, such as Islam and Judaism, forbade members to drink alcohol and that includes wine.

How to taste wine like an expert?

Do wine tasting properly, and you will be surprised by the different variety of flavors. According to enthusiasts, you should first inspect the wine visually and sniff it before drinking it. Appearance matter so first note the color, hue, and saturation of the wine in the glass. Then, try to put your nose over the glass and make a good sniff as the scent and aroma of the wine influence its taste. Lightly swirl the wine around the glass and sniff again to appreciate the released hidden aromas. Depending on the wine, aromas can be described as vegetal, grassy, fruity, spicy, or buttery, or sometimes emit fragrances that remind you of leaves, minerals, berries, leather, herbs, or flowers. Sometimes, aging in wood imparts vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, espresso, caramel, or even roast aroma in the wine. After visual inspection and several snips, you can now drink (yay). You will better appreciate the taste of wine through small sips rather than large gulps. Practice often if you are still a beginner. Of course, you can simply dump the wine into your mouth, but that will not allow you to fully appreciate the appearance, flavor, and aftertaste of the wine.

Are aged wines really better than young wines?

Not always. The wine you bought from the store actually underwent some aging already. Aging is not suitable for all wines. Some taste at their best when bottled and consumed young, while other wines are suitable and do taste better after aging. Wines bottled young often have fuller aromas and flavors, and aging may cause those qualities to disappear. Aging makes wine develop complex and highly desirable flavors, but it is suitable only for certain wine styles. That answers the question whether you have to age wine before drinking it.

Are wine grapes good to eat on its own?

No, really. Grapes used for winemaking are usually not suitable for consumption as table grapes. Wine grapes have thicker skins, higher acid, sugar, and juice vs. pulp ratio compared to table grapes. Wine grapes are usually smaller and have seeds, and so undesirable to eat.

How long does wine last after opening?

Once the cork is removed, oxygen starts to seep into the wine. This is called oxidation, and it basically flattens out the flavor of the wine, and it makes the bright flavor and color disappear. This explains why aeration mellows out wines, but it should not be done longer than an hour. If wine is left exposed for a long time, like a day or two, it can acquire microbes from the air that cause spoilage. Therefore, it is best to consume wine soon after opening the bottle.

What is the best way to serve wine? Warm or chilled?

This may sound like a stupid question as most are accustomed drinking wines at chilling temps. To settle this issue, let us hear from Ms. Jancis Robinson herself. She noted that temperature is crucial in the taste of wine. Cold temperatures temper down the smell of wine while emphasizing its acidity and tannins, and it slows down the release of fizz in sparkling wines. High temps may ‘boil off’ flavor compounds in the wine, but that tempers down tannins and acidity. You will find this a rough guide useful to determine the temperature of wines to serve. Still, serving wine chilled is still the best for most wines. If you are drinking wine chilled and you like it, stick to it.

Why certain wines are expensive?

It is a fact of life that some popular wines are terribly expensive, while other not so popular bottles are lower in price but still unaffordable, while many wines are cheap enough to fill a bathtub without breaking the bank. Many important factors can drive up the price of certain wines. Those made from sensitive or rare grapes (such as Riesling), made using special vintage or terroir grapes or used special techniques (like ice wine, noble rot, or aged in oak) are often higher in price due to use sophisticated production. Another factor important factor is simply demand. A wine made from vintages that used a sought-after grape variety raised in favorable terroir, and filled with glowing reviews, will soon create more demand than the available supply that often drives its price up to the roof.

The stemware used to serve wine. Does it really matter?

Yes. You may think that stemware for wine is just for show, but it is really essential for wine serving and drinking. The parts of a wine stemware have a purpose. The long stem prevents the warmth of your hands from warming the wine. The large bowl collects the aromas for flavorful sniffs. There is a corresponding wine glass to each wine styles, but you can actually start with a few glasses.

What is terroir?

Terroir is a term used to denote the soil, climate, and terrain (water source, elevation, and slope) of a region that affect the taste of the wine. Most experts believe that terroir is very important in the quality of wines. The terroir may explain why wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia have different notes and aromas compared to Cabernet Sauvignon from France. Wines made from grapes raised in unfavorable terroirs are usually deemed inferior compared to wines made from grapes raised in good terroirs. Recent studies show that bacteria in the region also influence the flavor of the wine and can be considered a part of ‘terroir.'

What is a vintage?

A vintage is used to denote the whole winemaking process; raising the vines, harvest, pressing, fermentation, aging, and bottling of wine. This is important because, as we mentioned earlier, the terroir of the vintage has a big influence on the flavor and quality of the wine. You may encounter ‘vintage wine.' These wines are primarily composed of grapes from a particular vintage, and they would taste different from wines made from later or earlier vintages, even though they were made from a single grape varietal and bottled by the same manufacturer. Since vintage has a big impact on wine, wine associations such as Wine Mag charts vintages. Many wines sold today are actually made from a blend of grapes from different vintages, and therefore called non-vintage wine. Blending vintages is a practice in many winemakers who are looking for consistency in their wines.

What is a varietal?

A varietal, in winemaking, is the term for a particular wine grape. The varietal used is important in classifying wines. You already knew that wines are made from few species of grapes, notable Vitis vinifera. From this single grape vine came forth several types of grapes used in winemaking; each one of those grapes is called a varietal. Some very popular varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Merlot, Riesling, Viognier, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, and others. Wines made from a single wine varietal are called varietal wine.

What is a wine region?

In a wine-producing country, a wine region is a place where lots of vineyards and winemakers are to be found. Governments usually denote the places and boundaries of their respective wine regions. Wine regions in countries that produce excellent wines, such as France, are recognized nationally and internationally.

What is an appellation?

Appellation is a set of rules so wine-producing countries can categorize their wine. Appellation indicates the vineyard, village, and wine region in which the wine is made. Appellation rules are different from country to country. In some countries such as France, Italy, and Spain, appellation dictates what grape varietal or blend, and minimum aging requirements goes into a particular wine. Compared to categorizing wine according to its varietal, the appellation is a better way to indicate if a particular wine bottle is genuine.

How do they put bubbles in Champagne?

Champagne wines are popular for its refreshing taste, and that is due to its slight fizz. Champagne wines are made differently than other wines. Sugar and yeast are added in bottles of base wine selected to be made into champagne. The yeast feasts on the sugar and produces carbon dioxide that puts fizz into champagne and pressurizes the container. Over time, yeasts die, and their bodies (as lees) add awesome flavor to the wine. But lees are unsightly and unacceptable to drinkers. To remove lees, champagne bottles are stored at an angle to settle sediments to the opening of the bottle, and that can take as long as 15 months to 3 years. The bottles are turned slightly rotated daily, so lees evenly fill the neck of the bottle. The neck of the wine is frozen (often by dipping the bottle neck firt into freezing brine), so the lees form into a frozen plug. The cap is then removed, and the frozen plug of lees flies out. The lost liquid is replaced a mixture of sugar and wine; the amount of sugar dictates the sweetness of the champagne.

Why wines from France are so popular?

It is hard to answer that question, but France is really a popular destination for wine lovers. French wine, notably those that came from Bordeaux, often fetch higher prices. The high-quality of French wines could be stated as undisputed, but its popularity is also due to several factors. France is a big country, with a varied landscape, lots of mountains, and short winters that favor the growth of winemaking grapes. The variations in weather also allowed the French to use terroir to their advantage in producing a vintage of very high quality wines. The French appellation is also accurate and very strict, making it easy to identify vintages made from fine batches of wine. It is also to note that the France has lots and lots of vineyards and winemakers. French wine is not only high in quality, but many are actually affordable and widely exported. Thus, wine drinkers around the world came to know that French are serious about their wines. Note that names of many wine grape varieties are French or originated from French. The French have very long history of wine production, and so are many years ahead in winemaking compared to other wine-producing countries.

What is ice wine?

Ice wines are wines made from grapes left to freeze on the vine. Freezing climate turns to water in grapes into ice crystals, but not the sugar and acids. Thus, pressing yields concentrated sugary juice that makes sweet wines with a perfect balance of acidity. However, not all efforts in making ice wine are always successful due to risks such as rot and insufficient freezing temperatures. Grapes for ice wine must be also harvested quickly because it goes bad quickly. Also, pressing yields little grape juice compared to other grapes. Global warming is also to be blamed, and those reasons make genuine ice wines somewhat rare and expensive.

What is noble rot?

One of the enemies of vineyards is rot, but one particular kind is welcome, and that is called Noble Rot (Botrytis cinerea). It makes grapes shrivel that concentrates sugars and allows production of sweeter wines. Noble rot also has compounds that add complex flavor to the resulting wine. Therefore, wines made from grapes affected by noble rot are popular (and expensive).

What are sulfites?

Sulfites are sulfur-based chemicals that may cause some allergies in some people. Sulfites are a by-product of fermentation, soit is naturally present in many wines. Foods like raisins and fermented items such as pickles and beer have sulfites, so if you can eat these foods, it is okay for you to drink wine.

What is the deal with using oak in winemaking?

Traditionally, grape juice undergoes fermentation and turns into wine inside oak barrels, and this has been the practice since ancient Roman times. Oak is easy to bend and work with, and imparts unique, desirable flavors into the wine. Aging in oak softens the wine, and it acquires either vanilla, clove, caramel, or smoky flavors. Most expensive wines are fermented and aged in oak barrels. But today, oak forests are significantly fewer (and more expensive), and therefore some winemakers resort to alternatives. Many use steel barrels and simply add in oak chips or planks to the wine to impart flavor.

Are raisins suitable to make wine?

There are wines made from raisins, and they are called straw wines. These wines are made from wine grapes that are dried in the sun (raisins). Because raisins are high in sugar, straw wines are usually sweet to very sweet. Straw wine is actually common since many wine regions in Europe produce it.

When a wine bottle says has certain flavors, are those flavors actually added to the wine?

Adding herbs, sugar, or artificial substances is not a usual practice in winemaking. The unique flavors in wines are due to the grapes used and some methods used in winemaking processes. It is good to note that the grape varietals used in winemaking have unique flavors. Also, the conditions (terroir) of the region where grapes were grown also affects the taste and flavor of the wine. Some winemakers impart additional flavors in the wine by blending juice from other wine grapes.

What makes some wines sweet? Is sugar added in winemaking?

Many varieties of grape wines are high in natural sugars and have low levels of acidity. If not aged, those wines tend to taste rather sweet. Most dessert wines are sweet and therefore perfect after a meal. In some wines, a portion of unfermented grape juice (which is sweet) is added to the fermented batch to sweeten the resulting wine. Table sugar is not an ingredient in traditional winemaking, except for champagnes.

When drinking wine, decanting really necessary?

Decanting wine, or exposing it first in the air first before drinking, helps remove sediment and also help release aromas. This is done by leaving the wine in a decanter, a device with a wide base that expose wine to air. Not all wines need decanters, though. Some wines, like Champagne, lose its pleasant fizz when served in a decanter. Red and white wines can be served in a decanter. The length of time required for decanting varies among wines. Decanting can be a dumbproof way to enhance the flavor of inexpensive wines. Probably, the best practice is to empty the wine bottle into a decanter and taste it after waiting for 5, 10 to 30 minutes so you will taste how it evolves.

What is wine sediment?

Sediments in wine, which is often little, is not a cause for alarm. Wine sediment, or dregs, are remains of dead yeast cellsand grape solids, and therefore natural. Much of them is removed through filtration before bottling. Sometimes, new lees form on wine bottles that appear as sediment. Sediment in wine is harmless. Sediment may cause crunchy sensation in the mouth when you drink wine. It is normal for bottled wine to have tiny quantities of sediment, and it can be removed by decanting.

Do I really have to spit out wine in wine tasting events?

Yes, and that is to prevent intoxication. You are in a wine tasting event to taste wine, and you cannot taste if intoxicated. To prevent accusations of DUI (drinking under the influence), you have to spit the wines you sample. In such events, you will have easy access to a spittoon anyway. If you really like a particular wine, you can sip and swallow. But you must not imbibe most of the wine in a tasting event.

Is wine vegan?

Although wine is made only from grapes and yeast, it may not be completely vegan. Substances called clarifying agents are used to remove sediment and unwanted particles formed during fermentation. Usually, non-vegan items such as isinglass (made from fish bladders), egg whites, animal-derived gelatin, and casein (from milk) are used as clarifying agents. Many wines do not label the agents used for clarifying fermented juice. Your alternative then is to purchase vegan wines. Wines that are vegan exist and this is clearly stated on the label.

Are feet still being used to press grapes to turn into wine?

The feet was traditionally used to stomp and crush grape to get the juice, and it is called pigeage. That was a practice at the time where presses are not widely available. Nowadays, basket presses and bladder presses are used to press wine. Mechanical power place more accurate pressure and require less work than human feet.

How much alcohol is there in wine?

Most wines are 9% to 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). Most wines have ABV values on their labels, which you can use to determine the amount of alcohol in each bottle.

What are the wines with high alcohol content?

Dry wines are stronger and have more alcohol than sweet wines. The majority of wines have ABV that makes them slightly stronger than most beers. If you want to get hammered, you can choose wines with ABV of at least 15%. Some exceptionally strong wines to try include Sherry, Port wine, Vermouth (yes, it is a wine! Try it!), and Madeira. These wines are 15% to 20% ABV, so drink moderately.

Why drinking wine causes headaches in some people?

Drinking wine, especially reds, at nighttime may cause a headache to some people. Although sulfites are often blamed, they are not the culprits. The actual culprits are actually tannins, prostaglandins, tyramine, and histamine. In some people, tannins may expand the blood vessels suddenly, causing the onset of headache. If you are among the unfortunate, consider drinking water between glasses of wine or avoid eating sugary items.

How to pair wine with food?

This is an important question and a skill learned by every wine drinker. It is a learned skill, as food may enhance or contrast the taste of the wine, which is either desirable or undesirable depending on the drinker’s tastes. There are guides for matching food and wine. Generally, light-bodied wines should be served with light simple fare, like delicate white and light reds to white fish, or poached chicken, fruity wines to fruit, and strong reds to fried items and red meat. Try to experiment and build your knowledge in matching food with wine!

What is the deal with the use of cork in sealing wine bottles?

Cork is ideal for sealing wines because they can be compressed to fit snuig into the bottle, and it is naturally impermeable. Cork does not add flavor to the wine. Although metal screw caps and synthetic corks are gaining acceptance, nothing beats the ceremony of pulling out corks to open wines.

What are the best wines for large gatherings?

Okay, this is an important question when preparing gatherings such as office parties, reunions, Thanksgiving, weddings, social gatherings, and house blessings. The pressure is high for the planner to serve the best wines for the party. Note that two factors are probably the most important; your budget and a way to serve cases of wines chilled. To avoid potential embarrassment, you can simply choose wines that everybody likes. You can consider Champagne (everybody likes Champagne), sparkling wines, crisp fruity whites and medium bodied reds. Consistency matters, so choose New World reds rather than Old World wines that may be affected by varying terroir.

What is the best wine for small gatherings?

Choosing wines for hosting a dinner with your friends or for a small gathering is easier. At this time, you can be more adventurous. It is also easy to know which wines your mates will like. If you are a guest, be gracious to your host by bringing wine to the dinner. In this case, a good recommendation is to pair your wine with the foods that will be served. You can also consider Champagne or sparkling wines. Or, consider dessert wines that will be perfect after the meal.

How to store unopened wines?

The most important thing in storing wines is to avoid oxygen, changes in temperature and light. There is no need to store wine near freezing temperatures. But wines should not be stored above 30 C. It is also essential to protect wine from too low humidity, which can dry out the cork and allow entry of air inside the bottle. The fridge is not a good place to store wine because of very low humidity, and you do not want to store them together with your groceries and leftovers. These factors make cellars, which are dark, dank, and often cool, ideal for storing unopened wines. If you do not have a cellar,you can store wines in the attic, basement, or on a corner of a spare room.

How to store wines that are already opened?

Once opened, wine has a quite short ‘best before’ date. You can use a stopper or the cork to cover the bottle, but make sure to finish the wine soon. You can store the wine in the fridge, though you still have to finish it soon. You can still drink oxidized or spoiled wine though, but do not expect it to taste good.

What is the best wine for cooking?

Wine is a popular ingredient in cooking. Any wine, red or white, is good. Here is a simple guide to follow when cooking wine. Dry, crisp white wines are still the most versatile. Note that rich aged wines may impart some bitterness, while sweet wines may cause caramelization and added sweetness. Note that heat removes much of wine’s flavor so you might want to add at the end of cooking. Also, do not use ‘cooking’ wines, which often contain salt and other additives.

Are boxed wines good?

Boxed wines are gaining more acceptance and becoming popular. Many boxed wines came with their proper appellations and vintages, and they are lower in price due to reduced costs of packaging and transportation. So if you are thinking of buying boxed wine, do it. Just make sure to check for proper appellation and labelling. Note that plastic packaging is good in keeping out air, so such wines last longer after opening, which you really need because of larger wine capacity.

Is it worth going to a wine region?

Going to a wine region is an awesome experience to any wine lover. It is an opportunity to see grapes and wines produced first-hand. You may also taste local, not-so-known wines that are not widely sold. You can join wine tours or travel on your own.

How can I determine or avoid fake or mislabeled wines?

Purchasing fake or mislabeled wine is a real possibility. Many fakes look like real, and it is often difficult to spot any difference. Counterfeits are often brands that are expensive and rare ones due to their higher value. Counterfeiters also tend to favor old wines, as newer wines often use anti-counterfeit technology. Wine experts and connoisseurs can easily spot most fake wines. If you are just a drinker, try checking the fine print, the bottle, wax capsule, and the cork. Learning more about the wine’s history and old winemaking techniques will be very helpful.

Are wine fridges worth it?

Wine fridges are becoming an item in many online stores and wine shops. They are as ubiquitous as wine racks. If you want one, consider your needs, the wines you have and the number of bottles you have. It does not have to be expensive.