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In Vino Veritas

Martin Luther reportedly said that "Beer is made by man, wine by God." Obviously, this was a man who appreciated a nice glass of the grape. I guess ole' Martin wasn't too picky about what he drank; he was a notorious guzzler. You don’t have to be like Martin to enjoy wine; you also don’t have to get a degree in “sniff, swirl, sip” – there is a happy medium. A little knowledge, in this case, goes a long way.

There are basically two types of wine; red and white. Yep, that’s it. Generally speaking, red wines go well with red meat and pasta; white wines go well with…you guessed it…white meat and fish.

No disrespect to Lucille Ball, but there really isn't much actual grape stomping going on, although some very traditional wineries may still use this method; modern wine making involves machines. Stems are removed, and, this is the big difference between white and red wine; the skins are either removed or they are left on. Skinless grapes = white wine; skin on grapes = red wine.  Crushing grapes releases their juice; the grapes are put into containers, and the waiting begins. The naturally occurring sugar in grapes ferments and becomes alcohol.

Popular red wines include Merlot (mer-low), Cabernet Sauvignon ( ka-bur-nay so-vee-neeyaw), Pinot Noir (pee-no nwahr), Shiraz (shih-RAHZ) and Zinfandel.  Red wines are intended to be enjoyed at room (or just below) room temperature.

Merlot is a safe bet for the novice; it’s soft and mild and tastes of plum and blackberry.

Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied and sophisticated and tastes of currant and bell pepper.

Pinot Noir is a light, dry wine with hints of berry.

Shiraz is a delicious, spicy wine with the flavors of black currant and black pepper.

Zinfandel is a zesty wine with the flavors of pepper and berry.

Popular white wines include Chardonnay (shar-doh-nay), Riesling (reez-ling), Pinot Grigio (pee-no gree-joe), Sauvignon Blanc (so-vee-neeyaw blahnk). White wines are usually drunk cold.

Chardonnay is light and refreshing and tastes of citrus and oak, with hints of melon, pear and apple.

Riesling is a crisp wine, tasting of apple, pear and lime.

Pinot Grigio, a.k.a. Pinot Gris, is a rich, delicious wine with a bit of spiciness.

Sauvignon Blanc has a lightly acidic taste, with the aromas of bell pepper, grapefruit and grass.

There are also rosé wines which are the result of a brief exposure to grape skins; they are red wine “light.” Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel all come in rosé versions.

Sparkling wines, including champagne and asti, go through a second fermentation process that produces carbon dioxide bubbles. Sparkling wines can be red, white, or rose and the ideal choice for any celebration. Take it easy, though; those bubbles have a way of backfiring on you. 

Wine comes in nearly any price range; there are bottles of wine available (duty free!) at the airport in Dubai for $195,000; or you can spend less than $20 on delicious wine you can grab at your local grocery store. 

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