Irene is The Mighty Rib’s new wine guru!
I had a late start in the world… in the world of wine that is. While growing up, my parents did not drink wine at the dinner table so I did not know much about it at all. By the time I got to the age where beverages became part of socializing [oh – fun Canadian trivia fact, the legal age is 18 or 19 depending on what province you are in so we get head start 😉 ] in college, most were drinking beer but I did not care for it so I drank White Zinfandel – it was cold, sweet and I think I looked sophisticated holding a wine glass. But then I got my first “real” job after college with a wine and spirits importing agency and so it began. A noob. Intimidated by wine snobs and cork dorks. Luckily, I had people around me that shared their passion for wine by sharing their knowledge and making it fun. Now, I have an opportunity to pay it forward and hope that I can be one of those people for you.
We all have to start somewhere, so let’s get the basics done and then get to the fun stuff 😉
The last point is actually true, and if you find wine intimidating, think of it this way. In its most basic form, wine is grape juice that has been fermented to produce alcohol. There are sites that explain the scientific process much better than I ever could which I can provide if anyone is interested. After grapes are picked, they go through a machine to remove stems and any leaves. The fruit is crushed and the juice is pressed from the skins. In white wines, they skins are removed, yeast is added to the tank to react with the sugars in the juice and it ferments and produces alcohol. With red wines, the skins are left in the tank to extract colour, flavour and tannins (the structural part of a wine). Depending on the ripeness of the grapes and the characteristics the winemaker wants, this can be for a day or up to a couple of weeks.
Next comes the grape type itself, in winespeak, that is called a varietal. For white wines, some of the most well known are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and for red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz. Each varietal has characteristics generally associated to its type: colour, aromas, flavours, body and finish.
Sometimes you may hear the term New World Wines which refers to wines made in countries other than Europe, the Old World. Many of the new world wines are named by the grape or grapes it is made out of, such as Brand X Chardonnay or Brand Y Merlot while tradition continues in Europe with many of their wines named by the region in which they are produced, such as a French Chablis made mostly of Chardonnay or a Italian Chianti made mostly of Sangiovese. Of course there are exceptions, most notably that there are “marketing” names for new world wines that can be decided by a regional association or by the owner, and European wines that are sold as single varietals.
As a first post, I wanted to give a basic overview and then get your feedback to get to know you and find out what direction you would like these posts to go. How can I help you learn about and enjoy wine?