If you are interested in wine, want to know more, don't be afraid to ask.

What is a wine varietal?
A varietal describes the variety of grape used to make the wine.

What is Tannin?
Tannin is the harsh, bitter and mouth puckering element in red wine which is similar to the dryness you get after drinking a strong cup of black tea. It comes from the grape skins and stems, and also the oak barrels. However they do soften with age and are essential for long term development in red wines.

What is the dent in the bottom of a bottle of wine?
The dent on the bottom of a wine bottle is called a punt. The main purpose of the rounded bottom or punt is to strengthen the bottle, especially important for sparkling wines, but it can also be useful for collecting sediment and for pouring wine (it provides a place to put your thumb).

What does "vintage" mean?
The vintage year is the harvest year of the grapes. The characteristics of a particular vintage are determined by the weather conditions and resulting grape crop for that year.

What is a dessert wine?
A dessert wine is usually a wine suitable for drinking with or for dessert. Due to its sweetness, it is enjoyed in smaller quantities than table wine.

What does it mean if a wine is "corked"?
A corked wine is a wine that possesses a moldy, chemical-like smell (sometimes associated with wet cardboard) that is due to cork taint. Cork taint is not a result of bleaching. It is the result of a bacteria or some other natural impurity present in the cork. The widely used process of bleaching corks with a chlorine solution tries to eliminate these impurities. A small proportion of wines are found to be corked.

What does "oaky" mean? What makes a wine "oaky"?
The flavor of wood or oak comes through in wines that are fermented an/or aged in oak barrels.

Why do some wines give you a headache?
Histamines, found in the skins of grapes, seem to give some people headaches if they are sensitive to histamines. Red wine will affect a histamine-sensitive wine drinker more than white wine because red wine has spent more time in contact with grape skins.

What is the Champagne Method or Methode Champenoise?
This is the traditional method which is used for all of the worldĦĤs finest sparkling wines. A second fermentation takes place in the bottle producing carbon dioxide, which kept in solution under pressure gives the wine its fine bubbles.

Is wine fattening?
A 4 ounce glass of wine contains from 80 to 100 calories. Lighter wines tend to have fewer calories than heavier wines.

How long will wine keep after you open it?
After opening a bottle of wine, you may re-cork the wine to save any remaining wine. Usually, an opened bottle of red or white wine will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Does the temperature of my wine really matter?
Definitely. Like the right lighting on your dinner partner, the right temperature will flatter and bring out the best in every wine.

White wines and roses are best served about 10˘J. Chill the wine in a refrigerator for about two hours. If the wine becomes too cold, let it sit out for about 15 minutes before drinking.

Most people don't realize that red wine should be served slightly below room temperature. A warm red wine will taste "hot" and its alcohol aromas will overpower the subtler fruit characteristics. Red wines taste best served between 16˘J and 18˘J. Serve lighter red wines closer to 14˘J. The very lightest red wines, like Beaujolais Nouveau, should be chilled closer to 12˘J. If your home runs warm, pop the bottle in the fridge for 15 or 20 minutes before serving. If your friends think you've gone nuts for chilling your Cabernet, just serve them a glass of wine, and taste the difference temperature makes.

Is it necessary to swirl wine in the glass before you taste it?
The reason for swirling wine in the glass is to release its aroma. Swirl if you enjoy taking in the wine's aroma, otherwise get straight to tasting it.

Why do wine tasters smell wine?
The way a wine smells can give many clues to how it will taste, where it was made, and from what grapes it was made. Also, your sense of smell is imperative to your sense of taste. Most people smell a wine because they find it pleasurable or are interested in the connection between how a wine smells and how it tastes.

Should I let wine breathe after it's been opened?
This is a controversial issue among wine drinkers. Many believe that few wines actually benefit from breathingĦXopening the wine to let it stand before being drunkĦXbecause the surface area of the wine actually exposed to the air is quite minimal.
The argument for letting the wine breathe is that the wine can benefit from the exposure to air just as it may benefit from the oxidation that occurs during the aging process. On the other hand, an older red wine may begin to break down when exposed to air for an extended period of time.

Can you serve red wine and white wine during the same meal?
Yes, you could serve a red wine with one course and a white wine with another or serve both to give your guests a choice. This also gives you a chance to experiment with pairing foods and wines to discover combinations you like best. You learn more by tasting food and wine pairings than by trying to follow certain pairing rules.

What is the sediment I sometimes find in a bottle of wine?
Sediment is solid particles that are a byproduct of wine-making (i.e. dead yeast cells or fragments of grape seeds or skins). They are harmless if drunk, but to remove the sediment you can decant a wine.

What does all of that information on the label mean?
The following can be found on the label of a wine produced in the U.S.:
ĦE Origin: country or state, vineyard or viticultural area, name/address of bottler.
ĦE Bottle size/volume: a regular bottle of wine is 750 ml
ĦE Alcoholic percent by volume: ranges from about 8.5% to 15%
ĦE Type of wine: such as table wine or dessert wine
ĦE Vintage year: year the grapes used to make the wine were harvested.
ĦE Specific bottling information: where the wine was bottled, for example, estate bottled (made from grapes grown in vineyards owned by the winery)
ĦE The brand name of the wine: may include the name of the variety of grape it was made from such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, or for the region where it was made, or it can be given a name created by the producer
ĦE Government warning: pertaining to pregnant women, ability to drive, and general health
ĦE "Contains Sulfites": a warning to those who may be allergic

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