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Wine Guide

Simple wine hacks to make it seem like you know what you’re doing. You’re welcome.

Is your memory as unreliable as ours? We’ve crafted this simple beginner’s guide for anyone who needs to immediately sound like a wine pro. 

Special thanks to Amy White and Darren Davis from David & White and Aramis Vineyards for this guide.

Read the show notes.

What are the different types of wine?

Being able to identify the different types of wine is a useful start to your wine journey. In a restaurant menu, you should hopefully expect the lighter wines are at the top of the menu, and become fuller bodied wines like chardonnay. 

As a general guide (in order of lightness > fuller bodied): 

Some of the more popular whites

  • Pinot Grigio – fruitier flavour, more richness of the palate
  • Riesling – aromatic, fruity and slightly sweet wine
  • Sauvignon blanc – crisp, acidic refreshing
  • Chardonnay – fuller bodied, richer in the mouth, generally drier,

Some of the more popular reds

  • Pinot noir – bright acidity, silky tannins often with a complex berry flavour
  • Grenache – a well-balanced wine with medium acidity 
  • Shiraz – ranging from medium to full bodied, with firm tannins
  • Cabernet – a dry red with a strong flavour
  • Malbec – another dry red known for being very heavy

How to look like a wine pro in front of colleagues

  • Research the restaurant wine list before going to the restaurant 
  • Practice verbalising the smell and flavour of every wine you drink
  • Go to more wine events (and even invite clients and friends)

‘People pleasing wines’ that are good to order for groups or presents (while making you sound like a sophisticated sommelier):

Red wine:

  • Tempranillo – a Spanish variety. It’s medium bodied, it’s not too heavy, not too light

White wine: 

  • Fiano – Italian variety. Every time you taste it, it tastes different. There is very little food wise that wouldn’t pair well with a Fiano 

Entry level wines

Red wine:

  • Barbera – Italian variety. Very smooth, not heavy on tannin, little acidity, fruity. 

Major differences between red wine, white wine and rose

Amy’s key advice: drink what you enjoy, and not what others tell you to enjoy! There are always exceptions to the rules in this guide, so do what makes you happy.

  • Red wine is considered ‘healthier’
  • Red wine has tannins
  • As red wine is tannic, it is good to balance with food
  • White wines and roses are typically preferred for hot weather
  • Red wines tend to be warmer, so better for colder weather
  • White wine may be good for white meats
  • Red wine may be good for hearty, meatier dishes 
  • Rosé is like the meeting point between red and white wine
  • Rose is a lighter and more refreshing wine can be great with seafood and shellfish 

Tannin: the grape structural element of a wine. It provides the ‘drying element’ to a wine. If you drink something with food, having tannins will balance it out.

Natural wine: Rarely any additives to wine. As a result they do not last long compared to other wines. 

Riesling, Pinot, Cabernet – What’s the difference between each?

In a restaurant menu, you should hopefully expect the lighter wines are at the top of the menu, and become fuller bodied wines like chardonnay. 

As a general guide (in order of lightness > fuller bodied): 

Whites

Sauvignon blanc – crisp, acidic refreshing

Pinot Grigio – fruitier flavour, more richness of the pallet 

Chardonnay – fuller bodied, richer in the mouth, generally drier, mov

Fuller body like chardonnay 

Reds

Pinot noir

Grenache

Chiraz

Cabernets

Malbecs 

Restaurant hacks

  • Be weary if someone pours you a bottle that has been opened for some time already
  • Most restaurants should allow you to taste wine
  • When in doubt, screw cap wines may have less faults than cork wines. The cork will not improve it, but it will add risk (unless you’re drinking a highly expensive wine with a lot of age to it) 

Tips for buying wine as a present

  • If you don’t know much about them, champagnes, ports and whiskeys can be safe gifts
  • If you know they like light wines or more full bodied wines, refer to the guide above
  • It’s safest to buy something that’s well known. Don’t make it too obscure – a big, prestigious brand would be memorable.

Storage

All wine needs at all times is a stable temperature. It will be easier if you put it in a fridge. Make sure to put some kind of covering on it to prevent unnecessary spoilage. Or you can just drink the wine. 

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