Wine for beginners, a guide to choosing the right one

Vino para principiantes, guía para elegir el adecuado

More and more people are encouraged to enter the world of wine, it may seem a complicated process of initiation, for that reason today we want to bring you this brief guide to wine for beginners.

To begin with, it is important to know and know how to differentiate the different types of wine, based on a series of factors that we are going to show you.

Do you want to become an expert? It is a process that takes time, but little by little, through research, interest and tasting, it is achieved. This is just the beginning, here we go!

Aspects to take into account when choosing a wine for beginners

In order to choose the right wine for each occasion, it is essential to take into account a series of factors, which we will define below:

  • First of all, it is necessary to consider what the wine is for, that is, the situation in which it is going to be enjoyed. A wine for an informal meeting is not the same as a wine for a lunch or dinner. If you are looking for a wine for a get-together with friends, an afternoon of games, a chat or any other informal situation, it is best to opt for a light wine. In this sense, rosé wines are always a good choice, although it all depends on the tastes of the guests. In the second case, that is, when choosing a wine for a lunch or dinner, the main thing is to know at what moment of the banquet it is going to be tasted, since each one has its role. For starters, a white or rosé wine is the best choice; a red wine is always ideal to continue with the main course; while for desserts, a sweet wine always comes in handy. If you are looking for a wine to toast, the best option is a sparkling wine.

  • It is also essential to take into account the time of the year when choosing the right wine. In summer, a cool wine is usually the most desirable, so a white or rosé wine is recommended, or even a sparkling wine, since meals are also usually lighter and these types of wine fit better.

  • The alcohol content of the wine is another important aspect to take into account, not only because of how this can affect us, but also because it is a factor that, together with acidity and tannin, transmits the body of the wine. Alcohol provides character; acidity, freshness and tannin, structure. If a wine has alcohol, acidity and tannin, it will be a wine with aging potential.
    • The alcohol content may vary according to the type of wine, as follows: 
      • Light-bodied wines are those between 10º and 12º. They are usually white or rosé wines.
      • Medium-bodied wines are those wines, usually reds, with a alcohol content between 12º and 14º.
      • And the wines with more intense body are those with more than 14º, they can be red, sweet or fortified.

Information on the origin of the wine that can be extracted from the label.

In addition to all the aspects previously mentioned, it is also necessary to learn how to read a wine label, in order to obtain other types of information and to begin to know the different varieties and to distinguish them. From the label we can know the brand or name of the wine; its origin, if it is linked to any denomination of origin, type and vintage of wine, grape variety, alcoholic strength, and, of course, the name of the winery.

  • Denominations of Origin: this is a geographical area that has been administratively recognized in order to establish a joint designation for those wines that meet a series of common characteristics. In total, there are about 70 established Denominations of Origin in Spain, some well-known such as La Mancha, Rioja, Rueda or Ribera de Duero and other smaller ones such as Tierra de León or Vinos de Madrid.

  • Types of grapes: When talking about wine, we need to be familiar with the names of the different varieties of white and red grapes. Depending on the climatic or soil conditions of the different regions, some grapes will be better adapted than others. Examples of the best known white grapes are: albariño in Rías Baixas; verdejo in Rueda and viura in Rioja and Mancha. In red wine, Tempranillo, which receives different names depending on the region, such as Cencibel, tinta del país or Ull de Llebre.

  • The type or category of wine is another essential aspect to take into account. Depending on the denomination of origin, wines can be differentiated by the time of aging in barrel or bottle. The best known traditional classification would be: young wines, those that have no barrel time; crianzas, reservas or grandes reservas, which will have a shorter or longer aging period between barrel and bottle. The higher the category, the more body and the greater the cellaring capacity. Those that do not have the wine category described will normally have a brief description of the grape variety and aging that the wine has undergone on the back label.

  • Finally, we can pay attention to the size of the bottle. The most common, and the one most often used in informal meetings and special events, is the 75 cl bottle. However, there are other larger options, ideal for events or celebrations with more guests, or for a special gift for wine lovers. In addition, this type of bottles are better preserved, so it is a sure hit. Among the largest sizes we find:
    • Magnum bottle, 1.5 liters.
    • Jeroboam bottle, 3 liters.
    • Réhoboam bottle, 4.5 liters.
    • Mathusalem bottle, 6 liters.
    • Salmanazar bottle, 9 liters.
    • Balthazar bottle, 12 liters.
    • Nabuchodonosor bottle, 15 liters.
    • Melchior or Salomon bottle, 18 liters.

This is just a brief guide to wine for beginners, but the key is to taste, investigate, be interested and know, in order to learn and enjoy a good wine.

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