Wine 101: The Basics of Wine

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Wine 101

We love to drink wine but do we understand it?  Why try to make sense of a good thing? Well, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way to helping you find the wines you like. It also doesn’t hurt to learn a thing or two along the way about the wine making process and the grapes that make your palate tingle with pleasure.

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Wine Knowledge Made Easy

Like all plants, we classify grapevines according to the system of taxonomy laid out by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Grapevines belong to the order called Vitales, the family called Vitaceae and the genus Vitis. …Read More

We use the terms “black grapes” and “red grapes” interchangeably. In either case, these grapes produce what is commonly termed “red” wine. Red grapes vary immensely as to the climates they prefer, the acidity they bring to the table, and their levels of tannins…Read More

What we call “white” wine grapes actually run from green to golden in color. We call these grapes and the wine they produce “white” for convenience. …Read More

Most productive wine growing regions are situated between 30 degrees and 50 degrees latitude, either north or south of the equator….Read More

We have already covered phylloxera. Phylloxera might be the worst scourge ever to hit wine grapes, but it is by no means the only one. Vines are subject to attack from pests that range from deer to birds…Read More

Undesirable Gray Rot on green grapes.

The term “viticulture” refers to the art and science of growing grapes. Viticulture is a branch of horticulture. We use the term more specifically to refer to the agricultural production of wine grapes…Read More

A cane-trained vineyard using vertical trellising.

Wine is not all one thing. Winemaking processes different from grape to grape, from region to region, from high-end to low-end, certainly from style to style. …Read More

Gyropalettes allow Champagne producers to pass the savings in labor costs on to you, the consumer (but they do not – they keep the money).

The process of making red wine begins with the harvest. Since the skins of red wine grapes contribute to the wine’s color and flavor, the careful harvester tries to keep the bunches of grape whole. …Read More

A grape sorting line.

The term “white” loosely describes wines that range from nearly without color to ranges of straw, yellow, and gold….Read More

Tartrate crystals clinging to the bottom of a bottle of white wine.

Oxidation occurs when a chemical compound loses electrons. Oxidation is considered beneficial in some winemaking circumstances, but excessive exposure to oxygen under the wrong circumstances can cause a wine to spoil. …Read More

Moderate consumption of wine is widely thought to be “good for you,” decreasing the risk of heart problems, strokes, diabetes, and cancer. Drink more than this and, so the conventional wisdom goes, the alcohol in the wine will have deleterious effects….Read More

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