The Basics About Wine

by Mila Raque
All About Wine

The Basics

Let’s go over some basics. First of all, there are several different types including red, white, and rosé. Each type has a different taste, color (obviously), and set of characteristics that distinguishes it. Out of these different kinds, red wines are the healthiest and most popular. In fact, red wines are enriched with antioxidants that can help keep you healthy and young.

Antioxidants help regulate cholesterol levels to keep the heart healthy and also keep blood vessels flexible to prevent unwanted clotting. Additionally, drinking red wine can help with weight loss! The antioxidants reduce the production of fat cells in the body and their ability to grow.

However, despite these health benefits, it is still crucial to remember that drinking any type of alcohol too heavily can really damage your health. MODERATION IS KEY! 

Expensive vs. Cheap

On a basic level, there are three major differences between cheap wines and expensive ones: oak, time, and terroir. Oak refers to the oak barrels used in the aging process. These add flavor and oxidize the wine, making it smoother and richer. Next, time describes the time spent aging. As a general rule of thumb, the older the better! Aging wine reduces the acidity and tannin. As a result, it tastes more fruity, subtle, and smooth. Finally, terroir is the environment in which the grapes are grown.

Many farmers make their vines produce less grapes so the resulting grapes are more intense. Ironically, these stressed vines produce better wine.

Since this process is extensive and expensive, the wine is sold for a higher price. Expensive wines are older and supposedly taste better, although many claim not to notice much of a difference between expensive and cheap wines!

Fun fact!

A 73-year-old bottle of French Burgundy became the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at a Sotheby’s auction for a whopping $558,000. Another bottle of the same wine and vintage went for $496,000 a few moments later. 

A 1947 bottle of Cheval-Blanc was sold in 2010 at an auction to a private collector for roughly $304,375. This was one of the only two bottles of Cheval-Blanc ever made to be granted a class A status. (In other words, it was super delicious!)

Clubs and Tastings

If you want to be a wine connoisseur, there are a few places to start. A popular one is through wine clubs. Basically, wine clubs are a subscription service that sends its customers a few wine bottles on a regular base. Depending on the club, customers receive samples every month or every three months. This service is very popular because the subscribers don’t have to go out and find flavors on their own. Additionally, they get a chance to try new types each month. Based on data from the customers’ preferences, the companies send out packages. These are usually themed based on color, flavor, or other tasting preferences. Some of the most popular are Winc, Primalwine, and SommSelect.

If you don’t want to commit to a subscription just yet, another option is wine tasting. Almost all vineyards do them. As a golden rule, follow: 

  •  SPARKLING FIRST
  •  WHITES BEFORE REDS
  •  DRY BEFORE SWEET
  •  LIGHT BODY BEFORE HEAVY BODY
  •  YOUNG BEFORE OLD
  •  ANYTHING BEFORE DESSERT WINE

These tastings usually consist of around 5-8 samples of different wines. While sometimes you get to choose, other times you are provided with a set group of samples. Technically, the official way to taste wines involves 4 S’s: swirl, sniff, sip, and spit. Although you are certainly welcome to down your samples, a whole day of tasting may catch up with you sooner than you think! After your tasting, you are welcome to purchase full bottles of any wines that you liked. This is a relatively inexpensive and fun way of trying out new wines!

Wine Culture

Over the years, wine culture has grown to be extremely deep and rich. This simple beverage has transformed over time into a cultural symbol and a compliment to food and festivity. Winemaking is also considered a part of World Heritage and tradition. However, many people think that only older individuals enjoy wine. This is totally false! While wine is technically better for older people (after 50 it’s healthy to have a glass of red wine each day!) young people can still enjoy it. In other words, in recent years wine has become a more popular drink for younger individuals. This is likely because we can access a greater range of wines both within the United States and beyond. Additionally, people have generally grown to develop a wider interest in trying different alcoholic beverages.

As they say in Italian…

Buon vino fa buon sangue. Good wine makes good blood.

What is your favorite type of wine?

About the author: Mila Raque
Hi! My name is Mila, and I'm a junior in college at Saint Louis University. I'm an English major with a minor in Creative and Professional Writing. Outside of school, I love to work out, spend time outdoors with my friends, draw, read and write. I'm hoping to bring a college student's perspective to HBM :).

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