A Few Notes on the Fermented Grape
I confess, I've only been to a few tastings, and my knowledge on wine is meagre at best. But, I do love a bit of the fermented grape and here's a short piece on the first few things I learnt from tastings led by sommeliers. Hopefully they are interesting tidbits that may be helpful to you!
Red or White?
That's usually the most basic question people ask. So, red or white? I'm a fan of whites but in certain situations, I do like a red. I'm not trying to be whimsical here. In fact, the tastings taught me where my preferences come from.
I tend to avoid reds because I usually drink wine on its own when I'm out with friends, and I find whites much easier and more refreshing to drink. The reason for this is that red wines contain a chemical compound called tannin which comes from the skin and pips of grapes that are included in the fermentation process. This compound causes the drying sensation in your mouth when you drink reds, which some (*ahem* me) find a little unpleasant. Whilst some reds are more tannin heavy than others, all in all, reds contain quite a bit more tannin than whites. In order to counter this drying sensation, protein is needed. As such, reds go so very well with red meats which are full of protein! Give me a rack of lamb or a steak and I'll order a red.
White wines have a lot less tannin than reds because the grapes are pressed for its juices and its skins are rapidly removed before the fermentation process. With less tannin, whites are usually lighter and easier to drink on its own. Rather than being structured by tannin, white wines are structured by acids instead. Due to the acids, white wines usually have a crisp and tart profile. And like lemons which are highly acidic, white wines pair wonderfully with seafood.
Now I know that my love for seafood and drinking wine on its own translate into my preference for whites! This knowledge has been particularly helpful when I enter a restaurant or a wine bar, and the server asks what I'd like to drink. Even if the wine list makes no sense to me, I can at least ask the server for some recommendations by stating what I like: dry, acidic whites! And if it's with a steak: low in tannin, smooth reds!
So, red or white for you?