Wine Tasting 101: Make New Friends, Improve on Your Old Ones
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Wine Tasting 101: Make New Friends, Improve on Your Old Ones

If you are looking for a new hobby or maybe you just want to make new friends and change your social circle, then becoming a casual wine taster may be for you.  And it’s getting easier no matter where you live.

Every region in the country, from Walla Walla, Washington, to Homestead, Florida, now has its own wine country to rival that of the legendary Napa Valley.  As for big cities, more winemakers are turning their hobby into businesses by opening up urban tasting rooms of their own.

Maybe in the past you’ve been intimated by the thought of learning about wine.  No worries, because help is here.  In a series of Factoidz articles, Winetasting 101, I will guide you through the easy to learn basics to get started.  Then it’s just a matter of practice.  The more wine you experience, the better you will be at wine tasting.

LESSON ONE - FROM THE VINE TO THE GLASS.

The wine making process starts with the grapes that are grown in highly selective areas.  Everything about the growing process can impact what the wine will taste like, from the soil to the vineyard’s exposure to the sun.

Once the grapes ripen, the winemakers judge when they will be harvested.  This can make or break a vintage because the grapes need to be picked when they contain just the right amount of sugar content.  This way, the resulting wine will have more complex, dense flavors.

Wine grapes are most often picked by hand instead of machine to make sure all the fruit is healthy (free of any mold or fungus) and not damaged.

After they are picked, the grapes are pressed.  The juice is then put into large containers such as oak barrels or steel tanks to ferment.  This allows the native yeasts in the juice to convert the sugar into alcohol.  Fermentation is part art and science, which is why there are so many types of wines with their own unique characteristics.

The fermentation process also determines the color of the wine.  Leaving the skin on the grapes lets the juice pick up the skin’s color.  The longer the skins are left in the mixture the deeper the color of the wine.

After fermentation, the wine is usually moved into oak barrels to let it age and develop more flavors.  Later, winemakers sample the wine to determine if its ready to bottle.

Next to water and milk, wine may be one of the oldest beverages enjoyed by people.  It’s estimated the first vino was produced more than 3,000 years ago.

So now you have a very basic understanding of how wine is made.  Next Factoidz - the wine tasting experience.

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