Have you ever gone to the store to buy a bottle of wine, and said I have no idea what a good wine is? If you, have you are not alone. Today I hope to clear some things up for you, and help you find a wine that you will enjoy. Now, kick back and have a glass of wine with me, won’t you?
In French the word Merlot means little black bird, and is the second most popular grape in America. We will discuss the number one favorite grape later in this article. Merlot is known for being a soft, ripe, and elegant wine, that pairs well with food, and is easy to drink by its self.
Merlot is a very approachable wine, especially for someone who is a first time wine drinker. It is the most recommended red wine for beginners. We can date the making of Merlot all the way back to the late 1700s. When a french winemaker from the Bordeaux region of France, formally labeled the grapes in his Bordeaux wine blend. The grape spread across the region, and became known for adding a softness and luscious fruit flavor to the wine, when combined with the regions favorite grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination of the two grapes complimented each other very well.
The pair became the main ingredient in the now world renowned Bordeaux Blend. That is now coveted by the majority of the worlds wine drinkers. Let’s fast-forward to the mid nineteenth century, when the grapes found their way to the California regions. American winemakers started using 100% Merlot grapes. The grapes were easy to grow, and they found that Americans really loved the softness of the fruit on its own. And they we enjoyed the low tannin levels of the grape.
Have you been sitting with a group of friends, drinking a glass or two of wine, and one of them refers to the tannin’s of the wine? And you did not known what they were talking about! Do not feel bad, it is not necessary for you to known in order to enjoy the wine. However, it can help you understand the wine that you are drinking, and why some wines give us a headache.
You experience the effects of tannin’s any time you drink a wine that causes a drying effect in your mouth. Tannin’s are naturally occurring compounds found in the grapes skins, seeds, and stems. The scientific name for tannin s is polyphenols. The compounds release from the skins, seeds, and stems as they soak in the grape juice, just after the grapes are pressed.
Tannin’s are also what give certain wines like Cabernet sauvignon their characteristic dryness or astringency. Any time you have a drying sensation in your mouth from drinking wine, you are experiencing tannin s. Depending on how dry your mouth feels, you can determine how high or how low the tannin levels of your wine is. A wine that is high in tannin s is called tannic.
Tannins can also be found in black tea as well as some dark chocolate. And when you get a headache from drinking wine you can blame it on the tannin s, not on having consumed too much of the wine. Getting a headache from tannin s is rare, we usually get them from consuming more wine than we should have. But, if you notice this effect is from the wine, there is a solution for the problem. Switch to a white wine, white wines are naturally lower in tannin s then red wine is.
Chardonnay is the most popular white wine on today’s market. Travel to any wine in the world, and you will find at least one vineyard growing chardonnay. It is a wine that can be simple, or regal, aged for many years, or consumed immediately.
So, how did this white grape become so popular? Chardonnay was born in the Burgundy region of France, where it is known as white Burgundy. It was in this region that the wine gained great acclaim for it;s elegance. Soon after its rise in popularity, winemakers in the Champagne region began grow the grape as well. Using it for their sparkling wines.
As the grapes spread form region to region, winemakers found that different climates produced different flavors. Warm climates would produce a chardonnay that was ripe, and full of tropical flavors. Compared to when grown in cooler climates, the grape would produce favors of apples, as well as fall earthy aromas such as mushrooms, and the smell of fallen leaves.
With all the variety’s of grapes that can be produced around the world, wine drinkers can have a chardonnay for every season, and occasion. This worldwide variety allows for chardonnay to go well on its own for a warm summer day, or on a cold winter night with a hearty stew.
In the seventeenth century, in southwestern France an accidental breeding of a red Cabernet franc grape, and a white sauvignon blanc grape plant, gave birth to a blend that became our most popular grape here in America. Cabernet Sauvignon is a red grape known for its thick skin, and the vines resistance to the elements. After the birth of this variety, it started to be adopted in parts of France by winemakers searching for more durable plant, that was easy to grow.
And the grape found its champion in the Bordeaux region of France. As a wine, Cabernet sauvignon is known for its dark color, full body, and an alcohol content that is over 13.5% in volume. Places like California, Australia, and Chile, The alcohol content can get as high as 14.5% and sometimes going over15% in alcohol content.
This is a dry wine ( not sweet ) and has a healthy level of tannin, which is why your mouth feels dry after taking a sip. This wine should be drank with food to help combat the acidity, tannin level, and alcohol content. There is no rule about drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage with food. However, this wine can be very overwhelming by its self.
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I do not want to drag this subject out more then I have to. So, I will leave you with this final note. Red wines pair really well with red meats, such as steaks, and burgers. And white wines pair well with all the varieties of fish.
Remember to drink responsibly, and please never drink and drive. Have a blessed day, love John D.