How to choose the right wine

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Whether you're out to dinner at an upscale restaurant or preparing a meal at home, knowing how to choose the right wine will be useful. Certain wines go best with certain meals and deciding on the right wine for you includes sampling many. The following tips will help you find the wine you prefer.

While there are many types of wines available including blush, rice, sparkling, dessert or champagne, the most common wines are red and white. The main difference between red and white wine is that the juice used to make red wine includes the skins, stems and seeds of red or black grapes. White wines can be made from any color grape, as only the juice, which is clear, is used. The juice and the woody bits used in the production of red wine contain tannins which give reds more complexity. The general rule of thumb is that red wines tend to be heavier than white wines while white wines are usually sweeter. Knowing the difference between red and whites will help you choose the right wine for you.

When choosing a wine to drink with a meal, choose a white if you are eating something light with subtle tastes. Drinking something too heavy will overshadow the taste of the food. Pick a red when eating a heartier meal as the food will be complimented by a strong wine with a flavor of its own. Most people remember that white meats, such as fish and chicken, should be eaten with white wine and red meats and sauces go better with red wine. When in a restaurant, order your wine after you have decided on your meal however, do not feel as though you must drink white if you prefer red, or vice versa. The only thing that truly matters is that you enjoy the wine and the food; the rules are there merely to guide.

The taste of wine is referred to as either sweet or dry. While it seems odd to consider a liquid dry, when it comes to wine, the word simply means the opposite of sweet. Dryness is usually scaled between 00 (very dry) to 5 or 6 (very sweet). When it comes to white wines, Pinot Grigio and Riesling are sweeter than Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay is considered a refined wine, whereas Sauvignon Blanc is more refreshing. When it comes to reds, Cabernet is sweeter than Merlot. Merlot is a smoother, lighter red while Cabernet is a rich wine that accompanies heavy foods well. While not as popular as other reds, Syrah is particularly well done in Australia where it is known as Shiraz. Zinfandel is a full flavored, robust red wine and the Zinfandel grapes can be used to make a sweet white wine called White Zinfandel.

In addition to dryness, wines are also categorized by their weight. Weight refers to the amount of alcohol present. In whites, Pinot Grigio and Riesling are lighter than Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and in reds; Merlot and Chianti are lighter than Cabernet. The term "body" refers to the thickness of wine and the weight of it in your mouth. To choose the right wine for you, taste test different kinds and determine which taste, weight and body you prefer.

While many of the finest wines come from France, Italy and the U.S.A (California in particular), many notable wines come from other countries such as Chile, Australia and Canada (Ontario). While region is of interest, do not limit yourself by only choosing wines that come from well-known vineyards. Experimenting with different kinds of wines may result in finding a favorite you may not normally have considered.

When determining which wine to choose, another factor involved is the vintage. Vintage simply refers to the year the wine was made. Because weather cooperates better in some years than in others, certain years will produce better wines than others. The amount of rain that falls close to harvest time typically determines the amount of sugar in the grapes and thus, will affect the taste. A small tip is that 1990 was a great year for all wine, so if you are looking to impress and are in doubt, order a bottle from this vintage and you will be sure to choose the right wine. Although vintage is considered important to those who know how to choose a wine, remember that older wine does not necessarily mean better wine, especially if the older bottles were from a bad vintage.

While there are many guides involved to help you choose the right wine, the most important guide of all is your own taste buds. Sip many and enjoy.

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