We know that Sula Fest is about a whole lot more than wine. It's about a weekend full of music, some shopping, downtime with friends, the wine is just a really good excuse to get out of the city for a mini-vacation. So before you head out to Nashik, or even if you're planning to snuggle up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and catch up on Sherlock, here are some basics about wine every first-time or newbie drinker should know.
There are 8 common types of wine
Four reds: Cabernet Sauvignon (full-bodied), Syrah or Shiraz (full-bodied), Zinfandel (medium to full-bodied) and Pinot Noir (light-bodied), and 4 whites: Chardonnay (medium to full-bodied), Sauvignon Blanc (light to medium-bodied), Pinot Gris (light-bodied) and Riesling (variable).
And 9 primary styles of wine
Since types of wine can differ drastically depending on where it was produced, it is easier to order wine depending upon the style of the wine you prefer. A wine's "body" is mostly its alcohol and tannin level.
A wine's "body" is mostly its alcohol and tannin level.
There are 9 primary styles: full-bodied reds (dark, dry, rich and flavourful), medium-bodied reds (food-friendly, less acidic, more fruity), light-bodied reds (low alcohol, bright, fruity and aromatic), rosé (halfway between white and red), full-bodied rich whites (bold, rich, creamy), light-bodied dry whites (not very aged, bright, crisp and tarty), sweet whites (aromatic, acidic, but also sweet) desert wines (high alcohol and high sugar, fortified) and champagne or sparkling wines (sharp, acidic, bubbly).
Even though wine is made from grapes, you can smell and taste other fruits in it
This is because when grapes ferment, the resulting chemical compounds can be identical to the compounds we associate with other fruits. These aromas and flavours aren't added to the wine, they're just what the drinker's nose and taste buds pick up.
Grapes are volatile fruits, and each decision on the wine-maker's part — from farming to the barrels used for storage — can leave an impression that influences the drinker's perception.
Grapes are volatile fruits, and each decision on the wine-maker's part—from farming to the barrels used for storage and all the elements the wine is exposed to—can leave an impression that influences the drinker's perception.
Red wines usually contain black (blueberry, black cherries, acai, prunes, figs, black raisins) and red (strawberry, cherry, pomegranate, raspberry, cranberry, etc) fruit flavours, in addition to the grapes they're fermented from. White wines contain flavours of tree fruits (apple, pear, apricot, peach, nectarine) and citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple)
The shape of the glass can make the wine taste different
It's not just wine enthusiasts saying so; a 2015 Japanese research has actually proved this to be true. A group of Japanese medical researchers developed a camera that could capture the way ethanol vapours (they give wines their distinct aromas) leave different kinds of wine glasses.
While there are specific glasses meant for particular kinds of wine, as a rule of thumb, red wines are served in wider-bowled glasses, while white wines are served in smaller bowled glasses. The wide bowls of red wine glasses allow the ethanol vapours to evaporate more easily, making the wine taste smoother. The smaller bowls of white wine glasses preserves the aromas of the wine and keeps it cooler.
The rim of the glass is its most fragile part, so clinking it puts the glass at risk of shattering and the wine spilling over.
There is wine glass clinking etiquette!
And most of us have been doing it incorrectly. The "proper" way to clink wine glasses is bell to bell, which means the bowl of your glass should come into contact with the bowl of your fellow drinker, not what most of us are used to doing—clinking rims. The reason for this is that the rim of the glass is its most fragile part, so clinking it puts the glass at risk of shattering and the wine spilling over. Clinking the bowl, which is sturdier, is practical, as well as gives a nice, loud "ding" sound, signalling a celebration of sorts. Cheers!
Swirl like a pro
It's not just something pretentious wine drinkers do. Swirling the wine can actually make it taste better, using a principle in physics called orbital shaking. The contact with the oxygen during swirling makes the wine open up, releasing all its aromas for the drinker to smell and approve. There are two types of common swirls: the handheld swirl and the table top swirl.
In the handheld swirl, you hold the glass by the base with your thumb and index finger and flick your wrist lightly for 5 to 10 seconds.
In the handheld swirl, you hold the glass by the base with your thumb and index finger and flick your wrist lightly for 5 to 10 seconds. If you have an overfilled glass, avoid this swirl. The table tops swirl is easier and more advisable for newbies—the glass rests on the table and you simply draw circles on the bar-top by pinching the base of the stem. There are, of course, people who hold their glass close to their noses and swirl exaggeratedly, but they are mostly just considered pretentious and pompous by their onlookers.
Pairing the right food with wine
This can be tricky for inexperienced wine drinkers, but there are certain rules you can follow to avoid going completely wrong. Pairing the right food with complementary wines will help you enjoy the flavours of both. Here are a few things to keep in mind: dry rosés work best with appetizers, if you're serving full-bodied red wine, the ideal pairing is red meat, spicy food tastes great with low-alcohol white wines, if your protein is light, pair the wine with the quality of the sauce, pick a dessert wine that's lighter and less sweet that the dessert you're serving to avoid overwhelming the taste buds with sweetness.