Whether it’s a nightcap watching a movie, at a bar with friends or over a dinner party, there is no doubt that wine is an immensely popular alcoholic beverage.
From popular culture to scripture, wine is a drink that is widely referred to as being a major part of humanity.
That being said, while it is said that water was, and still is, turned into wine; it is truly more than the grape used that distinguishes the difference between the white prosecco and the sparkling shiraz.
From certain processes with handling the grapes to dry versus sweet; let me guide you on what truly makes each variety of wine that much different from the other and how these unique qualities can make for a great tasting experience; both within itself and with various food pairings.
When it comes to making a good red drop, it is naive to purely base its differences on a range of dry to sweet.
This is because red wine can be defined by a few more complex factors – the main one being tannins.
While there is such a factor in white wines, tannins are more heavily found in red varietals, especially in the case of oak barrels being used to age the wine. These give the wine its body, being the richness that it feels in your mouth.
However, not all reds have the same amount. Let me guide you through a few:
Pinot Noir and Lambrusco: Party Pleasers
This pair is the prime duo of light-bodied, with Pinot Noir often being the first that many people will think about. Lambrusco is a great red to have in summer, with a bubbly and fruity flavour.
That said, both can often be considered the party pleasers of the red wine group, with a refreshing taste to the palette that is quite silky and doesn’t sit long in the mouth.
Both styles of wine pair well with food such as pasta, but with different bases. Lambrusco is best matched with cream, while Pinot suits a more meaty flavour, especially if you have a slightly more tannic wine.
However, to keep that light refreshing flavour, these wines are best served chilled, closer to their white wine counterparts.
Merlot and Zinfandel: Minglers with the Earth
When I say ‘mingler,’, I mean that these two can leave the party of your mouth early, or choose to stick around. They come under what some wineries call ‘medium-bodied’
These are often a pair to have at a dinner party, as they are often a great table wine, and are the grazers of the plate. They matchmake with a lot of foods, from dark meat poultry to hearty vegetables.
These friends like to breathe, especially depending on their age. However, they like to be kept fresh, so serve them at slightly cooler than room temperature.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon: The Rounded and Rich Reds
These luscious reds like to make themselves known and like to let all the taste buds in your mouth know that they are in the room.
They often come wearing flavours of rich fruit, both in colour and taste, but may have a spicy flavour and have been aged in the wood.
Therefore, let them breathe, and they may then be more comfortable in your mouth.
However, the rich and aged often come from humble beginnings, and they know it, so these wines suit the country life.
They are best matched with goat and lamb and used for glazes and jams to your meats.
People may often think of rosé as the ‘strawberry blonde’, or the white that wears pink, but that’s not necessarily the truth.
What makes rosé is its processing. While going through fermentation the red grapes used don’t spend as long in their skins and come out blushing. This short strip is called maceration.
Also, as a consequence, a rosé doesn’t have as high a volume of tannin as red wine varietals.
Much like her white wine cousins, rosé wine can be dry or sweet. She likes to be flirty and sift through the pickup lines from a soft cheese.
However, if she’s the bold sister, pair her with an earthy meat like beef or pork. Either way she’s an entertainer, so it is best to let her chill to prepare her before you let her out.
White wine is often the light and bright blonde of the wine varieties. Much like its Rosé cousin, it can be sweet or dry and made into bubbly.
However, while white wine can indeed be made from red grapes, what differentiates them is that with white wine, all seeds, stems and skins are removed after crushing.
This also makes white varietals less likely to have tannins. While not always, those such as a Chardonnay are quite often a dry, crisp white and can be driven by oak, while a Moscato is often sweet and fruit driven, giving it a sweet flavour.
A dry white, such as sauvignon blanc, is best paired with seafood and served chilled, while a sweet white, such as a Moscato, is best with cheese and dessert.
So whether you like a beautiful blonde blanc, a blushing rosé or the richer red, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Cheers!