Wine 101

Scenario: You have decided to throw a wine tasting party for 15 of your closest friends. Dilemma: Your wine IQ is less than genius status. Solution: With the help of local wine experts, 5280 has compiled the need-to-know basics so you may understand, buy, pair, taste, and enjoy wine with surprising (and impressive!) ease. Never again whine about the complexities of wine.

April 2003

Vino in a Nutshell

Everyone knows wine is made from grapes, but to really understand this nectar of the gods we have to go a bit deeper. Of course, as with many things, wine is ever evolving – rarely is there a steadfast rule to follow. “Nothing about wine is ever just black and white,” says Cynthia Meyers, former sommeliere at Denver’s Restaurant Kevin Taylor. “Everything in wine is very gray.” And while that’s true, at least there’s an easy place to begin the wine adventure – color.

The most obvious feature of a wine is its shade – white, red, or rosé. The difference in color is affected by the variety of grape and the vinification (wine-making) technique used. When red wines ferment, red grape skins are left to marinate in the juice. Because color-creating components are found in the skins (most grapes, even red varieties, have clear juice), the longer the skins soak in the juice, the darker the wine will be. Juices intended to make white wine are separated from the skins and seeds through a filtering process and therefore remain clear. Rosé results from a minimal amount of skin contact.