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Layman's Guide to WINE

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WINE 101


Wine is a fermented juice of different verities of grapes. Geographic location, weather, processing style and blending make a Wine bold and beautiful.

AOC Law allows SIX grapes varieties for making Bordeaux Red Wine and FOUR grapes verities for Bordeaux White Wine. If a vineyard grows grapes other than the TEN allowed grapes varieties, the produced wine can only be sell as Vin de France.


Bordeaux: A city on the Garonne River in southwest France; a large wine-producing region with more than a dozen sub-regions; a red wine made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc; a white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon


Bordeaux Red Wine Grapes


  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A powerful, tannic red grape of noble heritage, and capable of aging for decades

  • Merlot

  • Cabernet Franc: herbal, leafy flavor and a soft, fleshy texture

  • Petit Verdot

  • Malbec

  • Carmenere


Bordeaux White Wine Grapes


  • Sauvignon Blanc: dominant grape used in the better, dry, white, Bordeaux wines

  • Semillon

  • Muscadelle

  • Sauvignon Gris


Bordeaux styled blends


  • Left Bank blends are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Right Bank blends are made primarily from Merlot or Cabernet Franc and Claret


Bordeaux blend does not only refer to the wines of Bordeaux.  Most Bordeaux wines are blends that include one or more noble grape varieties. A noble grape is a grape that can produce great wine, without blending. The only requirement to make a Bordeaux blend is that it includes at least two of the main Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Numerous countries produce wine from the same grapes to make their own, unique Bordeaux blend. Wines from Bordeaux blends are quite popular in the Napa Valley in California, (Where it can be referred to as a Meritage wine) Washington State, Oregon, Virginia and other wine producing regions in the United States. Australia, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, China, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru are just a few countries that make wine using the grapes needed to produce Bordeaux blends.

Grapes grown in warmer climates are naturally lower in acidity and higher in alcohol content. Ingeneral Merlot has higher alcohol concentration than Cabernet


Acidity allows the wine to feel fresh and uplifting instead of flabby. Flabby wines do not feel good. They can be too sweet, with sensations similar to syrup. Too much acidity is not healthy for a wine either. The wine will taste and feel too bright and sharp.

White wines grow darker in color as they age while red wines turn brownish orange. Color is a key determinant of a wine's age and quality

In wine, bitterness usually results from unripe grapes, or a failure to get the stems and pips (seeds) out of the fermenting tank, or mismanaged barrels.

Food and Wine pairing:


Know your food and categorize under FbTASS (Fat, bitterness, Texture, Acid, Salt & Sweetness)

FbTASS Rule of thumb:


  1. Light food is best with light wine; heavy food with heavy wine.

  2. Do not overpower the test of Wine with Food


Salt can make an oaky Chardonnay taste weird, strip the fruit right out of a red wine and turn high alcohol wines bitter.


With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert; otherwise the dessert will strip the wine of its sweetness and render it bitter or tart.


Avoid bitterness in food to pair with any type of Wine. Sweet chocolate dessert and a dry red? Terrible!


Try using some tangy, bitter greens and offset them with herbal flavors from Sauvignon Blanc or Sémillon.


Salads are often a challenge for wine matching, but you can make it work if you moderate the acid in the dressing by cutting back on the lemon juice or vinegar.


Bleu cheese and Sauternes is another one of the world’s classic food and wine combos. Sparkling wines are a homerun with salty, fried foods, seafood (oyster).


There are degrees of sweetness. Some recipes will have just a hint of sugar, such as a fruit sauce served over a pork loin. This light, fruity sweetness can be matched very well with rich white wines such as Chardonnay. Higher alcohol tends to give an impression of sweetness, and balances the sugar in the sauce. With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert; otherwise the dessert will strip the wine of its sweetness and render it bitter or tart.


Use a bitter, dark chocolate and a red wine with some sweetness, such as a late harvest Zinfandel, and it can be quite wonderful.



Wine Terminology


Dry: A wine containing no more than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar.

Champagne: A denominated region northeast of Paris in which Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes are made into sparkling wine.

Cava: Spanish for 'cellar,' but also a Spanish sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne style from Xarello, Macabeo, and Parellada grapes.

Brut: A French term used to describe the driest Champagnes.

Brix: A scale used to measure the level of sugar in unfermented grapes. Multiplying brix by 0.55 will yield a wine's future alcohol level.

Blanc de Noirs: The name for Champagne made entirely from red grapes, either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, or both.

Blanc de Blancs: The name for Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.

WineEnthusiastNetwork: WEN



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