The average Brit drinks 108 bottles of wine per year, making it one of the most popular alcoholic beverages there is. Wine is produced all over the world, with notable regions including America, Australia, France, Italy, South Africa and Spain. It’s an incredibly versatile drink, spanning a large range of colours and flavours meaning there is something to suit all palettes.
Want to know more about what to look out for when buying wine? Here’s our wine buyer’s guide to tell you everything you need to know.
Wine: An Overview
The origins of wine can be traced back to China in 6,000 BC, when alcoholic drinks were made from honey and fruit. The practice eventually spread to the Middle East, where grapes were used instead. Eventually, the art of making wine made its way around the world, taking on different variants in the production process until it became the drink we enjoy today.
Wine can be defined as a spirit that is made from any kind of fermented fruit, most noticeably grapes. In some cases, wine can also be made from apples, blackberries, cranberries and even bananas. The grapes that are used to make wine and not the same as you find in the supermarket. Instead, they are smaller and sweeter and have thicker skins, and they need to be ripe to be used. The riper the grape, the sweeter the wine and so growers wait as long as possible before harvesting them, which only happens once a year.
Once harvested, the grapes are crushed and pressed to release the juice which is then placed in large stainless steel tanks. Yeast is then added to kick start the fermentation process, which sees the sugar in the grape juice convert into alcohol. It can take between 10 days and 3 weeks to ferment wine depending on its type. The wine is then stored for several months and filtered to remove any debris before it is bottled and corked.
Popular Wine Brands
Red wine is created from red grapes that have been crushed and then fermented for around 2 weeks. The colour of red wine comes from the skin of the grape, which gives it that familiar red-purple tinge. The taste of red wine is quite dry and can also be slightly bitter or acidic, which you will taste on the back of your tongue as the flavour develops. This is where red wine differs from white wine, as it is not as sweet due to the lack of residual sugars.
When it comes to choosing a red wine, the occasion is the main consideration, as wine is a very versatile drink that can be consumed over a casual lunch or a more formal evening setting. Anything below 10% ABV is considered quite low in alcohol, and up to 20% ABV is quite strong. The average wine content normally falls between 11.5% and 13.5% ABV, with Yellow Tail Jammy Red Roo which sits at 12% ABV being a classic example.
If you are looking for a fruity red wine that steps away from the traditional bitterness, then a brand such as Shiraz or indeed, any wine made in Chile or California are great options to explore. Pinot Noir is also an incredibly popular lighter wine that aromatic wise sits in the red fruit categories, with notes such as cranberry and raspberry often being associated with the taste.
With an evening tipple, there is greater flexibility with regards to the flavour and most importantly the strength of the red wine you can choose. At 13.5% ABV, Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon tastes similar to blackberries and cherries. However, it also has undertones of liquorice, chocolate and coffee making the flavour much deeper and complex.
White wine is made from white grape varieties such as aligoté, chardonnay, pinot blanc, and sauvignon blanc. The harvesting stage begins when the white grapes have reached the perfect balance between sugar and acidity levels. The main difference between red and white wine is that white wine is generally produced using only the grape juice, and not the skin of the grape. The lack of skin used to create white wine means it has fewer tannins, giving it a sweeter and lighter taste in comparison.
If you are looking to expand your alcoholic repertoire then white wine is a great place to start. One of the most popular grapes is the chardonnay grape which comes from Burgundy in France. A white wine that features the chardonnay grape is Barefoot Chardonnay which has an ABV of 13.5%. It has a light, pleasing taste with hints of green apple and white cranberry.
On the prestige end of the scale, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is made in New Zealand and the warm climate of this region allows the grapes to develop full, rich flavours that are superior to regular white wine varieties. This produces hints of citrus and a light burst of tartness, giving a fresh aftertaste in place of being overly sweet as some white wines can be.
Rosé wine can be produced in several different ways, but will always use red grapes to do so. Once harvested, the red grapes are pressed and the skins are removed, which is the main difference between red wine as the skins are left on. Alternatively, rosé can be made by adding white wine to red wine to give the synonymous blush colour we associate with rosé wine.
The flavour notes of a rosé wine can vary from grapefruit and strawberry on the lighter end of the scale to dark berries and peppers in the more full-bodied varieties. One way to determine the strength of a rosé is to look at its colour, which varies from a pale pink with a tinge of yellow to a slightly yellow to a deep raspberry hue.
If you enjoy your rosé to have elements of red berries come through in the taste, then one option to go for is the Echo Falls Rosé, which contains fresh strawberries and cherries. At 9% ABV it’s a lot lighter than other wines in terms of alcohol content, so is perfect for those warm summer evenings where you want a wine that has a fruit essence to it without being too strong.
Pairing Wine With Food
The art of pairing wine with food comes down to balancing the flavours of both the wine and the food you are eating, with popular accompaniments including meat and cheese. There are 6 areas of taste to consider which includes acid, bitter, fat, salt, sweet and texture.
For canapes and similar light bites, a rosé wine works best because it combines the light crispness of white wine with the fruitiness of a red. With mini plates of food, there are lots of tastes that need to be accommodated, which is why rose works as a good all-rounder.
Any foods with high acidic content such as fish or pasta in mushroom sauce work well with white wine. That’s because acids work best with other acids, with Pinot Grigio being a good example of this.
Foods that have a high-fat content such as steak, sausages or burgers are best paired with red wine. The tannins which come from the skin of the grapes help to balance out the taste of the fat.
Does your dish have a bit of a kick? Heavily spiced foods such as curries pair beautifully with sweet wine, such as Stowells White Zinfandel. It’s full of summer pudding flavours that will perfectly balance the heat of the dish.
Finally, salty foods and bubbles work in perfect tandem, making it the perfect time to pop out the champagne.
What To Look Out For When Buying Wine
When purchasing wine, there are many elements to consider to find the perfect bottle for your requirements. An example being what the occasion is and what the wine will be served with. The type of flavour you prefer will impact whether a white, red or rosé wine is a better match. Though as wine is incredibly vast, it’s always worth trying other varieties to discover new tastes.
Unlike whisky, the quality of the wine is not indicative of its age. Wines do not need to be aged to be considered as good. Though some red wines do taste better with age, it is more important to factor in the region and grape type that the wine is made from, as this will give a more accurate representation of both the flavour and quality.
As wine is an incredibly complex beverage with many different facets, it’s always good to ask the experts should you need any help in choosing one. However, as a general rule white and rosé wines are an ideal place to start if you are yet to develop any preferences for a specific wine, or want to avoid the acid taste of strong red wine.
It’s also possible to find non-alcoholic wines too, meaning everyone can enjoy this rich beverage that is steeped in heritage.
To Sum Up
Wine is a drink that is enjoyed the world over and can be experiences with many different pairings and combinations. Whether you are looking to enjoy a glass of wine with a meal or as you unwind in an evening, we hope our wine buyer’s guide has given you some helpful pointers.
Is it wine o’clock where you are? If so, here at Bring Me Drink we stock a large selection of wines including wide, red, rosé, and more, with prices starting at just £2.20. We will deliver your wine direct to your door, meaning you can enjoy our sumptuous wine selection without having to leave the house! We also sell large batches of wines that are ideal for parties and events.
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