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#Winederland: Wine 101: five fundamentals for newbies to wine

Drink

Love kicking back with a glass of the good stuff, but don’t really nose your meritage from your merl-oh? 

Relax, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

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Tantalizing their taste buds, are Neil Grant and Higgo Jacobs.
Photo courtesy of Wine.co.za

1) What it is:

Wine is essentially fermented pressed grape juice. All juice starts out white, with extended contact with purple or red grape skins giving red wine its colour.

2) What it’s made from:

Wine is produced from special grapes called cultivars or varieties. Each cultivar has a specific taste and individual characteristics.

In South Africa, the main white cultivars are:

Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Riesling.

The predominant red cultivars are:

Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinotage, which is South Africa’s very own signature variety.

3) How it’s made:

Ripe wine-producing grapes are harvested in summer (vintage refers to the year in which they are harvested) and pressed to release the juice. Yeast is then added to the juice to encourage fermentation, which produces alcohol. This wine is then matured in oak barrels (known as wooded or oaked wines), steel tanks or glass bottles.

4) The different types:

There are four categories of wine:

  • Still (regular red and white wine);
  • Sparkling (aka a bottle of bubbly);
  • Dessert (a sweet, after-dinner wine); 
  • Fortified (wines with higher sugar and alcohol contents, like sherry).

While still wines are fermented once, sparkling wines are fermented a second time, in the bottle, which adds those glorious bubbles! Sparkling wines can also be carbonated, which is when bubble-producing gas is added to the wine.

5) And how to appreciate it:

Unlocking all the deliciousness of a wine involves ‘tasting’ it. To do this, the senses must be engaged.

First look at the wine and appreciate its light and bright colour if it is white, or rich velvety hue if it is red (called colour and clarity).

Then smell it. Give your glass a swirl and put your nose inside your glass. What do you smell? Think of everyday scents (yes, wine can smell like freshly cut grass!). This is called the wine’s aroma or bouquet.

Next, taste it. Allow the wine to reach every corner of your mouth to truly enjoy all its flavours.

How does it taste on your tongue (the texture), on your palate and after you’ve swallowed it (the aftertaste)?

Ultimately, all winemakers agree the most important aspect of wine is the experience it provides. As long as you love your late harvest, savour your Sauvignon Blanc, and revere your Rosé, you can’t go wrong.

An extreme pairing by sommelier Jean-Vincent Ridon


For more edu-taining tips on your favourite tipples, visit the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show.

Presented by The Star, taking place from May 25 to 27 at Montecasino in Fourways. Winederland is waiting!

Enter here to stand a chance to win tickets for you and your partner to join us at The TOPS at Spar Wine Show!

To purchase tickets to to TicketPros.co.za

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