The sense of taste is just like our senses of sight and hearing, the more effort and concentration you put into it, the more depth and detail you’ll be able to discover. So learning to appreciate something as complex as wine is a lot like learning to appreciate music or arts, you’ll enjoy its nuances and fine details much more if you fine-tune your senses and your ability to detect those details. Check out http://www.winegeeks.com/articles/93 for more about wine flavors.
To start this fine-tuning, it’s helpful to know a little about the different varieties of wine. Below is a list of 6 of the most common varieties of wine, the basic differences in their flavors, and which foods they pair well with. Wine variety is determined by the type of grape that it’s made with, and each grape variety produces a distinct flavor in the finished product.
Soft and easy to drink, Merlot is a common introductory wine for new drinkers. It has fruity flavors of plum or black cherries, with occasional hints of mint, eucalyptus, or chocolate.
Pairs With: Just about any foods
More assertive than Merlot, Cabernet has similar flavors of plum or blackberries but can also taste like black currants or cassis. If it’s aged in oak, it can take on flavors of cedar, vanilla, or even chocolate or coffee. This great Austin wine bar has some of our favorite Cabernets.
Pairs With: Simply prepared red meat such as beef or lamb.
Wines made with these grapes can be some of the best single-variety wines in the world. They’re delicate, with flavors of red fruits like cherries or strawberries. These become more complex with age, taking on earthy notes similar to mushrooms or decaying leaves.
Pairs With: Grilled salmon, lamb, chicken, and Japanese dishes.
Very versatile, Chardonnay grapes can make very different tasting wines depending on where they’re grown and how the wine is made. Its fruit flavors can range from apple to tropical fruits, and it can take on rich honey and butter flavors when barreled in oak. In contrast, it keeps more of a mineral flavor and feels a bit fresher if barreled in stainless steel.
Pairs With: Fish and chicken dishes
Crisp and clean, Riesling grapes make wines with pear, apple, and even lime flavors with some nice mineral undertones. With age, they can take on a pleasing oily aroma and honey flavors.
Pairs With: Fish, chicken, and pork dishes
Also fresh and crisp, these wines are very aromatic and can have grapefruit and even bell pepper or grassy flavors. When not stored in oak barrels, they can take on smokey qualities.
Pairs With: Seafood, poultry, and salads
These are just a few of the most common wine types. Many more wine flavors are possible by blending grape varieties, and different regional varieties and wine-making processes produce a nearly endless variety of wine flavors. Once you train yourself to detect all of the subtleties of wine tasting, you’ll be able to enjoy them all to their fullest and appreciate the truly great wines.