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Wine Secrets
Become a Wine Expert.

Buying Great Wine
The best way to determine what a wine will taste like is by looking at the grape variety from which it's made. This is where the main flavor comes from.Wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like black currant, Chardonnay like citrus, Merlot like cherry, and so on. A wine takes on additional nuances depending on where the grapes were grown and the winemaking techniques used, but the fundamental flavor of the grape variety remains the same.

Buying Great Wine
Most wines are made from one or two grape varieties and, with very few exceptions, red grapes make red wine and white make white. Pink wine can be made by mixing wines made from red and white grapes, or from just red grape varieties.

Buying Great Wine
Most wines name their grape varieties on their front or back labels.Those that don't are usually traditional wines from Europe labeled with the place they were made, such as Barolo, Chianti, or Bordeaux.

Buying Great Wine
As well as a characteristic flavor, each grape variety shows distinguishing levels of tannin and sourness—known as acidity. These elements influence how a wine tastes and whether it's to your liking. Nebbiolo, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon make notably tannic wines, for instance, and Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, and Grüner Veltliner make wines that are lemon-squirt sour. To some degree, these characteristics can be influenced by where the fruit is grown and the winemaking techniques used, but it's useful to learn your preferred level of tannin and acidity and which grapes produce wines that fit the bill.

Buying Great Wine
If you're like me, your wine preferences vary with the weather, the seasons, and what you're eating. A sour white wine is a great refresher in the summer or with a spicy dish, while a robust red on a chilly day, perhaps with roasted meat, is most satisfying.

Buying Great Wine
Sour wines tend to come from cooler climates. Countries further from the equator such as Austria, Germany, Canada, and Great Britain, as well as cool regions in hot countries such as the mountains of Chile, produce wines with more natural acidity or freshness.

Buying Great Wine
If you like vanilla, search out wine aged in American oak. For aromas and flavors such as black and white pepper, cinnamon, and coffee, look for wine aged in French oak. Information on the type of oak used is often noted on back labels.

Buying Great Wine
Better wines are fermented or matured in oak barrels rather than less costly oak chips, staves, or essence. If a wine's label uses more elusive phrases such as "oak maturation" or "oak influence" rather than the word "barrel," the winemaker has probably chosen one of the less expensive methods. Barrels create more integrated wood flavors.

Buying Great Wine
Traditional Old World wines tend to be more restrained and less fruit-forward than New World wines. Some critics call New World wine alcoholic fruit juice, but it's very popular. The Old World includes the wine-growing regions of Europe that have been making wine for centuries. The New World refers to countries that began making and exporting large quantities of wine in the last one hundred years or so, such as North America, South America, and Australia.

Buying Great Wine
Despite the tendency for the New World to make fruitier wines than the Old World, exceptions exist. Many New World producers now copy Old World wines at the higher end of the price spectrum. Meanwhile, the Old World is making inexpensive New World look-alikes—fruity wines that name grape varieties on the labels.

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  • American Wine - Wines of California
  • American Wine - Wines of New York State
  • American Wine - Wines of Oregon,Washington, and Idaho
  • Argentinean Wine
  • Australian Wine
  • Austrian Wine
  • Buying Great Wine
  • Canadian Wine
  • Central and Eastern European Wine
  • Chilean Wine
  • Detecting Faulty Wine
  • French Wine - Wines of Alsace
  • French Wine - Wines of Bordeaux
  • French Wine - Wines of Burgundy
  • French Wine - Wines of Champagne
  • French Wine - Wines of Languedoc and Roussillon
  • French Wine - Wines of Provence and Corsica
  • French Wine - Wines of Rhône
  • French Wine - Wines of Southwest France
  • German Wine
  • Giving the Gift of Wine
  • Knowing When to Drink It
  • Mediterranean Wine
  • More about Wine
  • New Zealand Wine
  • Ordering Wine in a Restaurant
  • Pairing Food and Wine
  • Portuguese Wine
  • Portuguese Wine - Madeira
  • Portuguese Wine - Port
  • Serving Wine Like a Professional
  • South African Wine
  • Spanish Wine - Sherry
  • Spanish Wine - Wines of Central and Southern Spain
  • Spanish Wine - Wines of Northeast Spain
  • Spanish Wine - Wines of Northwest Spain
  • Spanish Wine - Wines of Ribera del Duero
  • Spanish Wine - Wines of Rioja
  • Swiss Wine
  • Talking the Talk—Wine Terminology
  • Tasting Wine Like a Professional
  • Trade Secrets - Storing Wine
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  • Vin de Pays
  • Wine from the Rest of the World
  • Wines of Northeast Italy
  • Wines of Northwest Italy
  • Wines of Southern Italy and the Islands
  • Wines of the Rest of Central Italy
  • Wines of the Rest of France
  • Wines of the Rest of the United States
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