Wine has been one of the most popular alcoholic beverages to compliment a meal for centuries. Many people shy away from drinking or serving wine at parties or in social gatherings because they are unfamiliar with what type of wine they should serve. As well as not knowing the terminology behind some of the types of wine. For example; ‘what is the difference between sparkling wine and table wine’. Some people who serve for dinner parties are afraid of serving the wrong type of wine to compliment their current meal. So, wine is a lot of times ignored and overlooked when serving a wondrous meal.
Well, here is your chance to learn about the easy ins and outs of wine without getting caught up in unknown definitions or fancy talk.
First of all, there are nine classifications of wine; Appellation Wine, Red Wine, White Wine, Rose Wine, Table Wine, Sparkling Wine, Dessert Wine, Fortified Wine, and Cooking Wine.
The first classification of Appellation Wine is a French term used in identifying where the grapes that were used for the wine were grown. An example of this is Frog Rock Creek Shiraz Wine. This wine’s name reflects that its place of origin is Frog Rock which is the name of the supplier that created the wine. Shiraz states the type of grape that was used to make the wine. A lot of times on these types of wines you will see they conformed to regulations concerning the varieties of grapes used, as well as the alcohol content. Appellation Wines may often be seen with an abbreviation after their name of AC or AOC. These wines are also classified as the highest legal classification for French wine.
Red wine however is normally made from red or black grapes. If you take a close look, you’ll notice that a lot of red wines aren’t really red at all. If you see a deep purple color of the wine, it may be labeled as red wine; however it is a newer wine. If the red wine has a more brownish color than that means that it is a well aged wine. If the wine has a pale color of red to it, more than likely there was oxygen combined with the grapes before they were processed. Red wines are not meant to be kept for longer than just a few years for aging. A few years meaning, no longer than three years. If the red color is too pale or too dark, it may not be that pleasant to drink.
A great example for a red wine is Merlot. Merlot is easy to drink and is made as a soft tasting almost introduction type red wine for those who have never had it before. As for pairing Merlot with any type of food, it is noted to be drunk with any type of food. Merlot wine can be found in black cherry and herbal flavors.
White wine is not really white, but yellow and its process is a lot more delicate than that of red wine. White grapes are used and must ferment for about three weeks. White wine is appropriate for any and all occasions whether it is before, with, or after a meal. One of the most famous White wines is Chardonnay. Chardonnay grapes are used to create the wine and serve as having a bold taste and available in many flavors. Chardonnay pairs well with poultry dishes, pork, seafood, or recipes that have a heavy cream base.
Rose wine is sometimes called summertime wine and is a mix of white and red wines. The taste is always light and the wine is carefully produced by removing the skins just before the liquid goes into a deep red color. One of the most popular Rose wines is White Zinfandel. White Zinfandel is a sweet and inexpensive wine that is low in alcohol and the sugar in it almost makes it taste like fruit punch. This rose wine is made for immediate consumption and not for sitting around and aging. If you do choose to try the White Zinfandel, make sure that you pair it with a seafood, pasta, or vegetarian dish.
Table wine is normally a term used to make a distinction between standard wine from higher alcoholic content wines. Table wines normally have a minimum alcohol percent of 7 or a maximum of 14 percent. Many of the table wines are simply labeled as red or white table wine. So, keep in mind what exactly the different types of wine are and just associate the ‘table’ portion of the title as defining that your guests won’t get plastered over having a few drinks.
Sparkling wine is fizzy and bubbly, which means it has high levels of carbon dioxide. Champagne has become the generic type of sparkling wine. Sparkling wines are normally used as a wine or choice for celebration. Champagne has a very light taste to it.
Dessert wines are simply that, they are sweet tasting wines that are to be served with dessert. Dessert wines normally contain sugar or honey and alcohol, normally brandy is added during the fortification process. If you are serving chocolate for dessert, make sure that you serve Black Muscat Wine. It is a late harvest desert wine that is made with lack grapes and goes well with chocolate. However, if you are serving a blue cheese type dessert or a light dessert that is NOT chocolate, Sauternes is the perfect dessert wine choice. It can be a little expensive, but the sweetness of the wine brings out the taste in the dessert.
Fortified wine is basically a wine where other types of alcohol have been added in order to up the alcohol lever and add sweetness to the wine. Fortified wines have a minimum of 15 percent alcohol and are very robust in flavor. Sherry wine is an example of that, it has an alcohol percentage of about 17 and are aged for a minimum of three years. Most Sherrys are excellent to serve with tapas, seafood, mild cheese, white fish and ham.
And last but not least, there is cooking wine. Cooking wine is just that, which is a cheap grape wine or rice wine to use as an ingredient in cooking rather than for drinking… so eliminate this type of wine from your beverage list.
When choosing your wine with your meal, you want to also think about the aftertaste. Sauvignon Blanc wines normally have really bad aftertastes, so I can suggest to stay away from them. Bertani wine would be a good choice of wine that has a fruity aftertaste. It’s 13 percent alcohol content and fits very well with any Italian meals.
Another term that will serve useful, is if you see the word Brut on the wine bottle, your looking at a wine that has a high sugar content and is usually some type of sparkling wine. This term also coincides with the term associated with some wines, ‘dry’. This basically describes how your mouth feels after drinking the wine. Dry wines give you that puckering sensation.
If you decide to serve more than one type of wine at a meal, make sure that you serve lighter wines first, as well as lower alcohol wines should be served before higher alcohol wines.
When pairing the wine with the food, you want to pair the wine to the sauce, seasoning or dominant flavor of the dish. If you are serving steak or prime rib, Merlot wine is the best way to go, it has a gentle fruity flavor that adds a little extra to your steak or ribs. You might not think it to match, but if you are serving hamburgers, you can still serve wine with it. Beaujolais is a perfect hamburger wine. Beaujolais is considered to be a fun wine and is not too heavy and inexpensive. Don’t forget about pizza, yep, you can serve wine with pizza. Barbera wine is a rustic red wine that works well with pepperoni and the tomato sauce on the pizza.
Here’s a dessert wine suggestion: Glacier Wild Huckleberry Wine is amazing. I had it about 2 years ago as an after dinner drink at my best friends wedding and it was out of this world. It is made 100% full of wild huckleberries and is extremely sweet. You can also use it as a dessert, serve it over ice cream and you got an amazingly fruity and flavorful dessert in seconds!
Sometimes it all depends on the person’s taste, many say that any type of wine can go with any type of food, but personally I believe in matching it up right. There are a lot of different wines out there that bring out the best in the type of meal you are eating. And I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending hours cooking a meal, I want something to compliment the taste and pick a wine that will explode the tastes, so that your guests will not only enjoy the meal, but remember it as well.
In conclusion, always remember that you can spend $20 or $200 on wine, but if it doesn’t praise your meal, what was the point in buying it?