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Understanding the World of Wines

Sip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Sippity-Yay!

Ever notice how beautifully wine goes with travel – it’s the perfect pairing, actually. No matter where on earth you enjoy traveling, there’s a bevy of wine-tasting experiences ripe to be explored. Combine specific geographical and environmental effects of each region with the winemaker’s artistic impression on the wines produced and there’s a wine creation your palette will adore.

enjoy on the patioReady to discover food and wine with me? Follow the “Food & Wine” category to the left for adventures in wine regions ripe for the exploring. We’ll discuss the specifics of major wine varieties, types of wines (sparkling wines and champagnes, dessert wines and after dinner wines, red wine and white wine classes) and common classic pairings that naturally go together (rich red wine and dark chocolate!!). The next time a wine sommelier looks to you to make some choices, you’ll be ready.

But first some wine basics to lay the groundwork …

Wine Basics … swirl, sniff, sip!

7 Deadly ZinsTaking the time to enjoy your wine selection and understanding what your palette enjoys takes practice. We often choose wines based on a waiter’s recommendation, to fit a price range or simply because a wine had a great name (like 7 Deadly Zins (for Zinfandel) – my GoGirlfriend favorite). But there’s a lot you can learn about the history of what makes up the wine from the clues in the glass in front of you. The GoGirlfriend team would like to offer some practical suggestions to make your oenophilic experience as robust and fruitful as it can be.

Step 1 ~ Swirl

In the glass before you sit a beautiful, complex, fruity, relaxation-inspiring taste experience to be appreciated and understood.

  • Step 1 ~ swirlSwirl the glass gently in a circular motion watching the range of color and the degree of how it clings to the sides (it viscosity or “legs)
  • Note the color range – the depth of coloring (lighter golden whites or fuller, ruby-deep reds) generally relates to the length of aging or the degree of the northerness of the region or the material it’s been aged in.
  • Check out her legs – the wine’s legs, of course secret to enjoying a good wine(viscosity or clinginess). Do they look thinner or thicker (closer to honey)? Generally, since the legs or tears are generally determined by the sugar added and the degree of alcohol, thicker wines tend to be sweeter wines or those with a greater alcohol content.
  • Swirling aerates the wine and helps release some scent for the sniff step and to begin to open the wine for the taste step to follow.

Step 2 ~ Sniff

Scent is a strong trigger that can evoke memories and feelings with only the slightest hint. Wines have characteristics on a subtle level that give triggers to the soil conditions, plants nearby from pollination and can even denote regions of the world. Take a full nose and linger … can you pull chocolate tones, berry, licorice or fruits?

  • Step 2 ~ sniffHints of lemons and green apples can suggest the wine is from a cooler region
  • Hints of peaches, apricots and tropical fruits can hint the wine is from a warmer region.
  • Deep tones like chocolate, oaks and tobacco generally liven the scent of reds with bolder characteristics.

At a restaurant, your waiter or sommelier will pass you the cork to sniff. You’re looking to ensure it’s free from vinegar tones (to denote the wine has gone bad).

Step 3 ~ Now Sip!

All this work and we haven’t even tasted this tempting creation in front of us. I think the act of Swirl & Sniff are part of a big tease in building anticipation for the bacchal / dionysic (Bacchus & Dionysus ~ much tippled god of wine) experience coming next. So, are your taste buds watering in anticipation?

Take a sip …

  • Cheers - to girlfriend getaways!Sip the wine and let it swirl around your mouth. Your taste buds will identify triggers of sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
  • Aerate … let some air seep through your teeth and into the wine. Can you note the flavor change?
  • On the matter of spitting? Not on my watch I say – swallow and enjoy.
  • Do you taste oak (barrel aged)? Was it fat with residual sugars? Was it a dry wine or sweeter? Can you identify the boldness of a red (tannins or acids)?
  • Can you sense the bubbles (small for champagnes, larger for sparkling wines)?

Every person will experience a wine differently. A good waiter will pause to ensure the wine sensations are to your liking and not sour.

You’ve passed ~ begin sampling the world!

perfect wine pairingsThere you go, you’ve passed through the first steps of wine enjoyment. You are now commissioned to go pick an assortment of your favorite wines and begin the testing!

I’m looking forward to exploring more tastes and preferences in wine – and travel. No matter where you travel, seek, explore and enjoy what each region has to offer in its native varieties. Ms. GoGirlfriend and I love to explore and taste locally our way along our travel routes.

Do you have a favorite wine gem you’ve found along your travel journey? We’d love to hear your story. Connect with us on Twitter and join our growing community on Facebook.

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