Even if the only exposure you’ve had to wine is watching that I Love Lucy episode where Lucy is stomping the grapes, you can still learn to make wine a bigger part of your life, whether that means you want to know more to impress the oenophiles in your family or circle of friends, want to become an actual wine connoisseur, or just want to know what wine to pick when you go out to a restaurant.
To accomplish any of these, you need to start with the basics. First, you should know about the common wine, or rather, grape varieties; then you should figure out what types you enjoy most; finally, you should decide how to continue your wine education.
First, Let’s Talk Grapes
You probably already know the first part. There are various categories of wine and, generally, people think of wine as red or white, though there are in fact other “colors” like rosé (though this is often considered in the red category). Wines can be dry, or not sweet, off-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Dessert wines are usually very sweet. In the case of red wines, while they are also referred to in terms of dryness, they are also described in terms of their strength of body/flavor.
The color and sweetness of the wine depends on the variety of the grape as well as when it is harvested. The name of the wine refers to the variety of grape, and each grape variety has different flavor elements. Here are some common white varieties:
- Chardonnay – dry
- Chenin Blanc – dry, off-dry or sweet
- Gewurztraminer – dry, off-dry or sweet
- Pinot Grigio – dry to off-dry
- Riesling – dry, off-dry, sweet, or very sweet (for late-harvest Rieslings)
And here are some of the more common red varieties:
- Cabernet Sauvingnon – full-bodied, dry
- Merlot – Velvety, soft, dry
- Malbec – full-bodied, dry
- Pinot Noir – light to medium-bodied
- Syrah – full-bodied, dry
- Zinfandel – full-bodied, dry (not to be confused with White Zinfandel, a sweeter rosé)
All of these wines (and many more) also have fruity, earthy, floral, and other flavor elements that give them their distinct flavors…but that’s too complicated to go into right now.
Once you get the basics of wine varieties, it’s time to actually experience them. The best way to do this is to join a wine club so that you can get different wines shipped to you. While doing that you can purchase different wines yourself and order different types at restaurants to build your knowledge base. The best thing about adding wine to your personal repertoire of accomplishments? You don’t have to worry about where all those bottles are going to go.
Let Us Store Your Wine for You
At The Wine Grotto in Pasadena, we offer various temperature and humidity-controlled self-storage options for your wine, and will even accept deliveries on your behalf. Just joined a few wine clubs? Have them send the shipments directly to us! We’ll be happy to store them safe and sound so they are ready when you want to come by and pick them up! Available space may stop you from doing many things, but exploring the diverse world of wine is not one of them. To find out what services we offer, call us today at (626) 247-8380.