Wine 101
Wine Education

Keeping wine simple...seriously! No...really...we mean it!

Wine Education Factoid - During Prohibition (1923-1933), all alcohol, including wine was prohibited. The exceptions were wine for medicinal purposes or religious consumption, or for the personal use of families who made their own. Families were allowed to make a hefty amount, up to 200 gallons a year!

What is Wine?

wine 101

Why its adult grape juice!

Remember we are keeping your wine education seriously simple.

Simple: It’s the end result of grapes that have been through the fermentation process in order to produce alcohol content.

Serious: Yeast is added to the crushed grapes and when the yeast comes into contact with the sugar in the grapes’ juice, that sugar in converted into alcohol turning grape juice into wine.

The sweeter the grapes, the more alcohol content.

The fermentation process takes place in two types of containers, either stainless steel or oak, and directly affects the taste of the final product.

Here is sits for a period of time while it develops its unique characteristics, smooths, and mellows.

Naturally, those wines that are fermented in stainless steel have a steely taste and wines fermented in oak have a more earthy taste.

Wine Education Factoid - The vintage year on the wine label refers to the year the grapes were harvested.

Go from wine lover, to wine genius.

How does wine get its color?

Wine gets its color from the skin of the grape.

White wine is made from the juice of the red grape (yes, red) as the fruit has no red color. The skins are removed from the grape by pressing the grape so that the juice flows out but leaves the skin behind. Some white wines are made with white grapes that really aren't white at all. Generally white grapes are green, golden, and some even have a pink hue.

Red wine is made is made from grapes that are red or blue and are called black grapes.

Just as there are different types of citrus such as tangerines, grapefruit, clementine, or naval oranges, which all have different properties; grapes also have a wide variety of taste and color.

Think about this in terms of black and white just to keep it seriously simple!

The simple difference is that the juice of the grapes is left in contact with the skins of the red wine grapes allowing the juice to absorb the red color.

Wine Education Factoid - In the Bible, Noah gets drunk on wine. In Genesis 9, 20-21: "Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent."

How does wine get its taste?

While there are only two real components to every wine, grapes and yeast, many things can influence the taste of wine.

Climate, soil, technique, temperature, fermentation, grape varieties, oak or many reasons to enjoy a bottle. The possibilities are endless.

Wine Education Factoid - Fortified wines such as Sherry and Port have alcohol added to them during fermentation. The added alcohol prevents the yeasts from breaking down grape sugars and converting them into alcohol. The end result is a sweeter wine with a higher alcohol content.

Types of Wine - Know Your Reds and Whites

Red and white are only the beginning of the types of different wines. The initial classification of wine is based only on the color of the wine and has absolutely nothing to do with the types of grapes used to make the wines. It also has nothing to do with the different combinations of ingredients, the various vintage years, or even the quality of the wine, or the time the wine is aged.

Wine Education Factoid - It is a myth that sniffing the cork gives you a good sense of the wine. Smelling the cork can be misleading. At times a cork will look and smell awful, yet the wine will be perfectly fine.

Red or White

This is the basic decision that most people make. Choosing a red or white wine is pretty much the starting when looking for new wines for your particular taste. While both wine can offer a"full bodied" taste, it is important to understand the basic differences between red and white wines.

Red wines usually have more of a dark fruit taste. These are fruits such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and even a cranberry flavor component.

White wines have a higher acidity level, rightly so as they usually embody the citrus flavors of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. These wines are more tropical in their bouquet and have a much lighter persona to them. The white wines also come with a little more oak flavor, as they tend to pick up the flavor of the barrel they were aged in

Wine Education Factoid - A corked wine does not necessarily indicate a higher quality of wine. Corked wines have a defect caused by a mold that can appear in the corks.

Dry or Sweet

Dry and sweet are two categories of "mouth feel." The drier the wine, the more tannin it has in it, usually. These tannic blends are likely a bit bitter at first, but are cut by the acidity of the wine, or are mellowed by the alcohol. Wines with a higher tannin content are better when let to sit and age, as the tannins will begin to fade after a while, becoming incorporated into the wine.

Wine Education Factoid - The German word trocken on a wine label means the wine is dry.

How does a vineyard's region affect wine?

Great wines start with great grapes from great places. With substandard raw ingredients. there is no way to produce anything other than substandard wine. This being the case, there are a few specific conditions, which make grape growing impeccable.

Wine Education Factoid - Terroir (tay-wahr) encompasses everything about a grap growing environment, from the wind to the sunshine to the soil that gives wine its unique qualities.


Vineyard's, more importantly, the grapes in those vineyards, need a certain set of conditions to grow optimally. These conditions include a cool breeze off the ocean, infrequent rainfall, rocky soil for good drainage, and plenty of sunshine. This is one of the reasons you will hear wine experts talking about a good vintage year due to the seasonal conditions, because ultimately, the body and taste of the wines are based on the conditions the grapes are grown in.

The combination of land, seasonal weather and soil used to produce wines, even has a French designation - terrior. Pronounced (tear-wah), this term is the origin of the word terrain. While you can the same type of wine, Pinot Noir for example, from three different regions - New Zealand, Burgundy, and California - you can expect to have three different tastes due to the terrain in which the grapes grow.

Regional Differences

How did the community you grew up in shape and mold you who you are today? Your appearance, accent, and palate were formed by your exposure to your community, or region, as it were.

The same is true for grapes and wine. Each region has people with different techniques for growing grapes and producing wine, usually passed down from generation to generation.

Take for instance, champagne. This sparking beverage was originally produced in Champagne, France with special grapes and innovative techniques. The only true "Champagne" is from this region in France. Any other bubbly wine is actually sparkling wine and must be labeled so.

The regional impact on wines makes a big difference in how a wine tastes and feels. Knowing the conditions the grapes were grown in, how they were processed, and the time honored traditions of the vintners, allow the consumer to know exactly what to expect with each type of wine.

Wine Education Factoid - Enology is the study of wine. Also spelled as oenology. An enophile (or oenophile) is a wine lover.


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