Know Your Grape Types
Different types of grapes make different tasting wines.
There are a few types or "varietals" that are commonly available.
- Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make full, rich red wines that go well with hearty food. Wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes ages well, although it's often blended with other grapes such as Merlot or Cabernet Franc, making it enjoyable to drink right now. Bordeaux wines are very often Cabernets.
- Pinot Noir grapes also make full, rich red wines that are usually a bit softer than Cabernets. Burgundies are most often made from Pinot Noir, and classic Champagne and sparkling wine starts here.
- Merlot grapes make lighter, softer red wines that many people like. California and Chilean Merlots are among the best, and can be real crowd pleasers.
- Zinfandel grapes are a California specialty. As a red wine, Zinfandel is a full, strong wine with a noticeably spicy taste. White Zinfandel is a sweeter blush wine that has become very popular.
- Syrah grapes make a very full red wine which first gained fame in France. Lately, Australia has been making "Shiraz" with great success out of this varietal.
- Petite Sirah grapes make a somewhat lighter, peppery red wine, and should not be confused with the similar sounding, but very different Syrah.
- Chardonnay grapes are generally made to produce an elegant white wine that pairs well with food. White Burgundies are predominantly Chardonnay, and California is also well known for these wines.
- Sauvignon Blanc grapes make a crisp white wine (often sold as Fume Blanc) that is a good choice for drinking on sunny days, as well as serving with picnic foods. White Bordeaux wines are often made with these grapes.
- Riesling grapes make a very refreshing wine. Germany first popularized this varietal, and a German Riesling will be drier and crisper than its California "cousin."
Store bottles at an angle sufficient to keep the cork moist. The most common reason for wine to go bad in the bottle is cork failure. A dry cork will crack and crumble.
| Before You Begin: Ah, Sweet Nectar Of Zeus! | Step One: Know Your Wine Regions | Step Three: Understand Vintages And Aging | Step Four: Understanding Pricing Pressures | Step Five: Know Your Needs! |
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