New initiates to the pleasures of wine would be well advised to visit the Total Wine Advocate, an official website for enthusiasts of all stripes. While many people enjoy wine, they are intimidated by the culture that goes along with it. Educating yourself about types of wine – where they come from, how they are made, and what kinds of food they are eaten with – is a great way to boost your self-confidence as an wine advocate in training.
The red color of this wine comes from the darker grapes that are used to make it. The word “red” belies the variety of colors that it can come in. From violet to brick red, the color is caused by anthocyanins, or pigments, in the grape skin. As a true wine advocate knows much of the production of red wine therefore involves the extraction of this color, as well as its flavor, from the skin.
While traditionally it is recommended to pair red wine with red meat and white fish, this simplistic view has been challenged by the globalization of wine production and cuisine exchange. While Pinot Noir, for example, an advocate can still make a great pairing with pork, beef, and strongly-flavored cheese, Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with these as well as a variety of fish. Similarly, Merlot is especially tasty with chocolate, as well as pork, beef, and red pasta.
White wine has existed for almost three thousand years, and in that time human kind has perfected the process of fermenting the uncolored pulp of grapes (their skin color does not matter). The color is also affected by the variety of grape, winemaking methods, and the amount of sugar in the final product.
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As with red wine, white wine drinkers should be discerning when it comes to pairing it with food, as small variations in flavor can have a big impact. While poultry goes well with most white wines, it’s least compatible with lighter, sweeter kinds. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio are great paired with poultry cooked in a variety of ways, from light and citrus-y to more earthy flavors. While an experienced advocate generally speaking, it’s traditional for an advocate to pair white wine with white meats and buttery, creamy pastas and cheese, don’t rely on tradition to make your pairing choices. What tastes good to you? Don’t be afraid to take risks!
This pink-to-orange wine is great with the kinds of foods that don’t necessarily fall under the traditional umbrellas of “poultry” or cheese. Like red wine, rose incorporates some of the color from grape skins, but is much lighter in color. A good advocate will tell you its nuance of color and dexterity of flavor, as well as its availability the world over, makes rose a sort of gourmet catchall. From tapas to salad, from paella and meat to even spicy foods, rose is well-equipped for variety.
An example of this is its pairing with cheese, which, while a traditional food to be served with wine, can be nevertheless difficult to coordinate because they tend to overwhelm their flavor. But a well-matched Spanish rose with a tangy sheep’s cheese from the same region can be positively blissful.
Sometimes an advocate can enjoy a little bubbly in their wine. Carbon dioxide, which can come from the fermentation process or be injected directly into the finished product, adds another element of experience to wine tasting and drinking. This effervescence can be aesthetic as well as interact with the taste of the wine.
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