I’m going to preface this post with a disclaimer…
Disclaimer: Don’t expect me to tell you how to get good wine for cheap- you get what you pay for. And, after you’ve had a few, taste doesn’t matter as much anyways… once you’re taste buds are drunk they probably can’t tell the difference between a bottle of Dal Forno Valpolicella (I dare you to pronounce that correctly) and a bottle of Barefoot Merlot.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about what really matters- wine.
Saying that wine is your favorite way to drink your alcohol is the “classy” way of saying you like to have a good time- collegiate socialites are ALL about that classy drunk life. Having a long stemmed glass of wine makes thinking you’re better than everyone else a lot easier. Let’s be honest- believing in yourself is the first step to having everyone else believe it too.
We go to college to learn. Part of every college curriculum should be learning how to go from being a wine drinker to a knowledgeable wino.
Categorizing wine isn’t as easy as white or red- there is a whole spectrum of wine. In fact, there are hundreds of types of both red and white wine grapes (called varietals) contributing to the diversity of wines. Since this is a beginner’s guide, here are some general categories to help you impress your friends and show them you aren’t just a boozhee college bitch:
Sparkling: Sparkling wine ranges from very dry to very sweet, and generally contains less alcohol than other table wines (boring, right?!). You’ll usually find that sparkling wine is either white or rosé.
- Pair with: Poultry or seafood, a creamy sauce, cheese, or enjoy on its own.
- When to serve: Celebrations and parties
White: With white wine, grapes are separated from their skins and made into juice before fermentation. They’re not all light wines. They can be light-, medium- or full-bodied, which represents how thick they feel in your mouth. Sweet wines like Riesling tend to be on the lighter (thinner) end while Chardonnay is at the fuller end, with a higher alcohol content, and a rich, creamy flavor.
- Pair with: Fish, salads, and meals with sour flavors like lemon, as well as desserts.
- When to serve: Light whites for summer events, or fall for full-bodied whites
Rosé: If you’re looking for an in-between selection, Rosé is a good option.It is a versatile wine that can be paired with many dishes. It’s typically made from black grapes (red-wine grapes), giving it subtle color. Like white wine, it’s best served soon after its release for optimal flavor and aromas.
- Pair with: Most cheeses, pasta dishes, as well as any spring or summer meal.
- When to serve: Spring and summer events and parties
Red: Red wines have bold, complex flavors, but it’s hard to generalize them because they have so many flavors and aromas. These are most commonly paired with red meat. When choosing the type you want to pair with your meal, consider the meat you’ll be serving. The bolder the wine, the richer the meat should be.
- When to serve: Great year-round, but should be your go-to for fall and winter dinner parties and gatherings.
- Pair with: A main course that includes red meats, strong cheeses or salty foods
Dessert: Made from naturally sweet grapes, these wines are the sweetest. These always taste delicious alongside fruit, chocolate and other desserts. Remember that you want to serve one that’s sweeter than the dessert, so the food doesn’t take away or change the wine’s flavor.
- When to serve: After the main course in any meal
- Pair with: Other desserts, or salty foods
WINE TASTING TIP
The key to successful wine tasting (and avoid looking foolish) is developing your palate (something I’m still working on). The easiest way to start is to begin with what you smell and taste – from there, you’ll unearth the many aromas and flavors that go into your first sip. Wine can have aromas ranging from fruit to herbs to smoky scents, and over time you’ll pick up on the different hints of each.