White Grapes

CHARDONNAY

This must be the world's most popular grape variety. Chardonnay has an amazing range of flavours. In cool regions, it can develop flavours of green fruits (apple, pear), citrus fruits (lemon)
and even vegetable (cucumber). In cool climates, it has high acidity. In moderate climates, the wines can develop flavours of peach and tropical fruits (melon).
In hot climates, the wines flavours include tropical fruit (banana, pineapple, peach, melon and even fig)
Chardonnay wines tend to be full-bodied, with a rich creamy texture. Many of the best Chardonnays spend some time in oak barrels, developing flavours of spice and vanilla.
In cool climates (Champagne, Burgundy), Chardonnay can be steely and austere, and can age well. In hotter areas (Australia, California, Chile, South Africa) it is rich, ripe and lusciously fruity, generally designed to be drunk fairly young, though the best can also mature for years. It is grown in almost every wine country in the world, failing only in the hottest and the chilliest.
Country/ Regions
France - Burgundy (Bourgogne, Chablis, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Mâcon, Pouilly-Fuissé) and Pays d'Oc IGP.
USA - California (Sonoma County, Carneros).
Chile - Casablanca Valley, Central Valley
Argentina - Mendoza
South Africa - Walker Bay
Australia - South Eastern Australia (Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River)
New Zealand - Marlborough

CHENIN BLANC

This is the main white grape of the western Loire in France, where it makes a range of wine styles from basic to stunning, from dry to medium to lusciously sweet (names such as Anjou and Saumur Blanc, Chenin vin de pays and Vouvray for dry wines, and sweet examples of Vouvrays, Coteaux du Layon, Chaume and several more).
Chenin has medium to high acidity and apple skins flavour.
Country/ Regions
France - Loire Valley (Vouvray AC)
South Africa

SAUVIGNON BLANC

Grown in a cool climate, or heavily shaded by its own leaves, Sauvignon makes sharp, tangy dry whites, with a distinctive flavour of green fruit, citrus (grapefruit, lime) and herbaceous notes (cut grass, green peppers, asparagus). High in acidity and generally best drunk young.
Country/ Regions
France - Loire Valley (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Val de Loire IGP) Bordeaux (Bordeaux Blanc), Pays d'OC IGP.
USA - California (Napa Valley)
New Zealand - Marlborough
South Africa - Elgin, Constantia
Chile - Casablanca Valley, Central Valley

SEMILLON [seh-mee-yawn]

Dry, light bodied, low alcohol, high acidity Youthful wines are neutral with delicate citrus flavours. Mature wines flavour of toast, nuts, honey
Blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make dry and sweet wines (Sauternes).
Country/ Regions
France - Bordeaux
Australia - Hunter valley

PINOT GRIGIO/ PINOT GRIS

Full-bodied, flavours include tropical fruits (banana, melon) sweet spice (ginger) honey.
Country/ Regions
France - Alsace
New Zealand
Italy

RIESLING [rees-ling]

Rhine Riesling (German by origin) rivals Chardonnay for the title of best white wine maker in the world - and probably wins. It always has a steely streak of acidity, and tends to have an often intense floral, lemony or lime flavour.
German Rieslings are light-bodied and often low in alcohol, Alsace and Austrian ones fuller, with a more typical alcohol level for a dry white wine. The most exciting Rieslings from outside Germany, Austria and Alsace come from cooler vineyards in Australia and New Zealand. These are usually dry or just a touch sweet, very fruity, with good acidity and a distinctive, floral, limy character
Country/ Regions
Germany - Mosel, Rheingau, Pfalz
France - Alsace
Austria
Australia - South Eastern Australia (Clare Valley, Eden Valley)

COLOMBARD

At home in south-west France, the Colombard produces rather thin, high-acid wine.
It ripens better in California, South Africa and the USA, tasting slightly fuller, and fresh because of its good acidity.

GEWUZTRAMINER [Guh-VERTZ-tra-mean-er]

Low acidity, high alcohol, full-bodied. Intense perfumed and aromas. Variety of styles (dry, off-dry and medium) .Flavours of floral (rose, orange blossom), stone fruit
(peach), tropical fruit (lychee), green fruit (grape), sweet spice (ginger). Best consumed young and fresh.
Country/ Regions
France - Alsace
New Zealand

MUSCAT [muhs-kat]

The family of Muscat grapes is large, but all the members share a flowery, strongly aromatic character. There are different varieties of the Muscat grape from the light, sweetish, low alcohol fizzy wine in Asti in north-west Italy; to dry, fragrant whites in Alsace, the Italian Alps, South Africa, Portugal and Spain and elsewhere; to very sweet, often fortified Muscats in hot climates where the Muscat grapes can become extremely ripe

VIOGNIER [Vee-oh-nee-aye]

Dry, low acidity and high alcohol. Flavours include delicate fruit and floral (peach, pear, apricot, violet). Also known as Roussanne Blanc
Country/ Regions
France - Northern Rhône, Southern France
Argentina
Australia
Chile
USA - California

ALBERIÑO [ahl-bah-REE-nyoh]

Light to medium bodied with high acidity. Flavours of green and citrus fruit (apple, pear, grapefruit).
Country/ Regions
Spain - Rías Baixas

VIURA/ MACABEO [vee-yoo-rah]/ [mah-kah-BEH-oh]

Widely grown throughout Spain, Viura is one of the main varieties used in 'Cava'. In still wines, it produces in most instances a dry, crisp wine that is best consumed young, with flavours of wild flowers and citrus.
Country/ Regions
France - Languedoc-Roussillon
Spain - Rioja

VERDICCHIO [Vair-deek-yo]

Dry, high acidity, medium-bodied. Flavours of citrus (lemon), herbal (fennel) and bitter (almond)
Country/ Regions
Italy

CORTESE [Kor-TAY-zeh]

Grape of the Famous sparkling 'Gavi DOCG'. Dry, light-bodied, high-acidity. Flavours of green fruit (green apple), citrus.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Piedmont

GARGANEGA [gahr-gah-NEH-gah]

Grape of the famous 'Soave'. Medium-bodied, high acidity. Flavours of floral (chamomile), green fruit (pear, apple), spice (white pepper)
Country/ Regions
Italy - Veneto

MELON BLANC

Grape of the famous 'Muscadet AC'. Dry, high-acidity, light to medium bodied, Unoaked.
Some of the wines have the term sur lie on the label. This means the wine has been bottled from a vessel containing the dead yeast left over from fermentation. These give a little more body anc complexity to the wine.
Country/ Regions
France - Loire Valley (Muscadet AC)

GLERA

Grape of the famous 'Prosecco '.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Veneto

Less Known White Grapes

PINOT BLANC

Pinot Blanc originated in Burgundy as a mutation of Pinot Noir. Light and fruity with flavours of apples and melons

TREBBIANO [Tre-bee-AH-no]

Dry, high acidity, light-bodied. Neutral, inexpensive wines. Made throughout Italy
Country/ Regions
Italy

TORRONTÉS

Dry, medium acidity, medium-bodied, high alcohol. Prounounced floral flavours (perfume), green fruit (grapes), stone fruit (peach)
Country/ Regions
Argentina - Salta (Cafayate)

JACQUÈRE [jah-kehr]

Low alcohol, lively dry wine. Flavours range from floral (white flowers) and fruity (pear, white peach, grapefruit) to mineral.
Country/ Regions
France - Savoy

BACCHUS

Low in acidity, unless grown in cooler climates.
Country/ Regions
Germany - Franconia
England

PHOENIX

A recent hybrid, bred for quality and resistance to disease. Bacchus-like, similar to Sauvignon Blanc in character.
Country/ Regions
England

ROUSSANNE [roo-sahn]

It produces opulent, aromatic wines with a firm backbone of acidity. Flavours range from honey, apricot to quince and nuts, grilled almonds, mango and beeswax.
Country/ Regions
France - Rhône Valley

MARSANNE [MARZ-sahn]

Marsanne produces deeply colored wines that are rich and nutty, with hints of spice and pear.
Country/ Regions
France - Rhône Valley

Taken on a wine tour of the Napa Valley, California. Home of the best American wine!

Red Grapes

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

Cabernet Sauvignon has become the world's most travelled red vine without a whisper of competition. The grape that gives flavours from grassy to ripe blackcurrant in Red Bordeaux can come up with plum, blackcurrant, raisin, mint, eucalyptus, green pepper and tar in sunnier climes. In Bordeaux it is always blended, with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, to make mid-weight reds with medium acidity and tannin. Elsewhere, Cabernet Sauvignon is often used alone, or blended with other Bordeaux grapes like Merlot to give more complexity, or with local varieties to bring added character.
Country/ Regions
France - Bordeaux (Médoc, Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Graves, Pessac-Léognan) and Pays d'Oc IGP.
USA - California (Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, Alexander Valley)
Chile - Central Valley (Colchagua Valley, Cachapoal Valley), Maipo Valley
Argentina - Mendoza
South Africa - Western Cape, Stellenbosch
Australia - South Eastern Australia (Coonawarra), Margaret River
New Zealand - Hawke's Bay

GRENACHE/GARNACHA [Gruh-NASH/gahr-NAH-chah]

Blended with other varieties but often dominating the flavour, Grenache makes spicy, peppery reds in France and strawberry-scented light reds in Spain (as Garnacha), and makes most of Spain's best and fruitiest. Australia has some good, rich red Grenaches and super-fruity rosés.

MERLOT [Mer-LOW]

Ever more fashionable, Merlot is the softest, fruitiest and easiest-drinking of the Bordeaux grapes. Merlots are rarely over-tannic. Merlot has an intense fruit flavour ranging between aromas of red fruits (strawberry, plum) to black fruits (blackberry, black cherry).
St Emillion is a Merlot based wine from Bordeaux. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, it has migrated all over the world, used on its own and blended with local and international grapes.
In the New World, Chile makes good value rich and fruity examples. Merlot can gain added richness from maturing in oak, giving aromas of spice and vanilla. It is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon which adds tannin, acidity and aromatic fruit to its character.
Country/ Regions
France - Bordeaux (Médoc, Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Graves, Pessac-Léognan) and Pays d'Oc IGP.
USA - California (Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, Alexander Valley)
Chile - Central Valley (Colchagua Valley, Cachapoal Valley), Maipo Valley
Argentina - Mendoza
South Africa - Western Cape, Stellenbosch
Australia - South Eastern Australia (Coonawarra), Margaret River
New Zealand - Hawke's Bay

MONTEPULCIANO [mohn-teh-pool-chah-nooh]

Deep colour, high acidity, medium to high tannins and alcohol, medium to full-bodied. Flavours of red and black fruit (black cherry, blackberry, plum) spice (pepper). Oak aged. Not to be confused with 'Vino Nobile di Montepulciano' - a Chianti-style red made from Sangiovese near the Tuscan town of Montepulciano.
Country/ Regions
Italy

PINOT NOIR [Pee-noe Nwahr]

The famous red grape of Burgundy continues to fascinate wine producers all over the world. Pinot Noir can make wines that blend fruit and savoury complexity more than any other variety. When young its fruity flavours can be reminiscent of raspberries, strawberries, plum or cherry, ageing to prunes and other dried fruits. It tends to have strong, bitter tannin when young. It can make the lightest of delicate reds in Alsace and Sancerre, grassy, cherry flavours in Western Australia, and big, jammy wines in the hotter eastern European Country/ Regions.
Achieving Pinot Noirs of the finesse and complexity of Burgundian reds has long been a goal of top wine producers in Australia, the USA, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa.
Country/ Regions
France - Burgundy (Bourgogne,Gevrey-Chambertin,Beaune, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Pommard)
Germany - Pfalz, Baden
USA - California (Sonoma County, Carneros, Santa Barbara Count) and Oregon
Chile - Casablanca
South Africa - Walker Bay
Australia - Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula
New Zealand - Marlborough, Central Otago

PINOTAGE [pinnoh-tahj]

This South African vine is a crossing of Pinot Noir with Cinsault (known as 'Hermitage' in South Africa). It is scarcely found anywhere else. It tastes plummy, meaty, and a little edgy. It's a versatile grape, making rosé, and anything from light, inexpensive, easy-drinking reds to big, fairly expensive, full-bodied reds that are capable of being oak aged and enjoyed 20 years on. Pinotage can taste bitter if the grapes used were not fully ripe.

SANGIOVESE [San-joh-VAY-zeh]

The main grape of Chianti and other fine wines of central Italy, Sangiovese is not always great. There are different strains of the Sangiovese vine, some very mediocre, others producing wines to rival the best reds in the world. Top vines can produce long-lived, concentrated reds, with substantial tannin and acidity. Fine central Italian Sangiovese starts with herby, raspberry fruit, highish tannin and acidity, and softens with bottle age towards cedary, elegant flavours.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Central Tuscany

SHIRAZ/ SYRAH

The French Syrah was renamed Shiraz when it immigrated to Australia. This fine, dark red grape, famous for the big reds of the Northern Rhone makes rich, flavourful wines, full of raspberry fruit and smoky, spicy flavours. In their youth, fine Syrah wines can be very tannic, softening with age to a still very fruity, leathery, smoky character. Further south in France, it makes lighter wines, either as Syrah vins de pays or as a firm, flavourful boost in blends with other, feebler varieties.
As Shiraz, it is Australia's most abundant red grape, offering a range of styles from light and peppery, with aromas of eucalyptus and mint to massively fruity, rich, softly tannic wines from South Australia.
Country/ Regions
France - Rhône Valley (Côte Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Côtes du Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Pays d'Oc IGP (Languedoc, Minervois)
Australia - South Eastern Australia (Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley)

TEMPRANILLO [TEM-pra-NEE-yo]

Every region of Spain seems to have a different name for this very fine grape variety, while the Portuguese call it Tinta Roriz.
It is Spain's best native red grape, making lovely, elegant red wines in the cooler northern regions, combining wild strawberry fruit with a herby, savoury, tobacco-like character. The finest, classic Tempranillo areas are Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but nowadays it is everywhere, except for the hot, deep south. It can make young, light, easy reds, sometimes made super-fruity by a Beaujolais-like method. Or richer wines that are often oaked. It blends successfully with Cabernet Sauvignon, and usefully perks up lesser Spanish varieties.
Country/ Regions
Spain - Rioja DOCa

ZINFANDEL/ PRIMITIVO [ZIN-fun-dell]/ [pri-meh-TEE-voh]

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas whereas blackberry and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas.
Zinfandel is the name used in the USA and the New World. Primitivo is the name used in Italy
Country/ Regions
USA - California
Italy - Apulia

GAMAY [gam-MAY]

Grape of the Beaujolais wine. Low tannin, medium to high acidity, light to medium-bodied. Flavours of red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, cherry) spice (cinnamon, pepper). Best consumed young and fruity.
Country/ Regions
France - Beaujolais

NEBBIOLO [neh-Bee-YOH-loh]

Grape of the famous 'Barolo DOCG' and 'Barbaresco' wines. High acidity, tannins and alcohol. Full-bodied with flavours of red fruit (plum), floral and
earthy character. Maturity bring in flavours tobacco, mushroom and even tar.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Piedmont

MALBEC [MAHL-bek]

Medium acidity and tannin. Flavours of red fruit (black cherry, plum, raspberry) and chocolate, coffee, leather.
Often blended with Merlot or Petit Verdot (Bordeaux).
Country/ Regions
France - Loire, Cahors
Argentina - Mendoza
French Bordeaux

Less Known Red Grapes

BARBERA [bar-BEAR-ah]

High acidity, light to medium tannins, medium-bodied. Flavours of red fruit (red cherry), spice (black pepper). Often oak aged giving flavours of toast, vanilla and sweet spice.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Piedmont

CORVINA [kohr-VEE-nuh]

One of the grapes of the famous 'Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG'. High acidity, light-bodied and low tannins. Flavours of sour red cherry. Wine made using Passito method - grapes picked early, dried indoors which concentrates the sugars and flavours.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Verona

MOURVÈDRE/ MATARÓ/ MONASTRELL [moor-VEH-dru]/ [Mah-tah-raw]/ [maw-nehs-TRELL]

Medium to long oak, high in tannin. Flavours of fruit (blueberry, blackberry, plum) and spice (black pepper).
Mourvèdre is the name used in France. Mataró is the name used in Portugal and parts of the New World.
Monastrell is the name used in Spain.
Country/ Regions
France - Rhône
Spain - Alicante
Portugal
USA - California

MONDEUSE [mohn-DEUHZ]

Often called Mondeuse Noir. It has a deep purple color, with well-structured acidity and fine, well-integrated tannins. The bouquet is powerfully aromatic, with notes of sour cherries and damson plums, pencil lead and a hint of black pepper.
Country/ Regions
France - Savoy
USA - California

RONDINELLA [rhon-de-NEHL-ah]

Often blended with Corvina.
Country/ Regions
Italy - Verona

An introduction to wine

What is wine? Quite simply, wine is a drink made from fermented juice of freshly-picked grapes. Fermentation is a natural process caused by yeast.
Yeast are microscopic organisms that live naturally alongside grapes in the vineyard. To live, yeast feed on sugar which is found in grape juice and converts it into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

There are three types of wine


Light Wines

The majority of wines fall into this category. These are what you would normally think of when someome says 'wine'. They are still, not sparkling or fizzy and are between 8 - 15% alcohol.
Many light wines are named after the region they are produced in. Examples include Bordeaux and Burgundy from France, Rioja from Spain and Chianti from Italy.
Wines from the New World Country/ Regions such as Australia are often labelled with the name of the grape use, such as Chardonnay or Shiraz.

Sparkling Wines

These are wines where bubbles of carbon dioxide gas have been trapped in the wine. The best example and most famous is Champagne from France. Another example is Cava from Spain.

Fortified Wines

These wines have had extra alcohol added to them and therefore have higher levels of 15-22%. Examples include Sherry from Spain and Port from Portugal


Styles of wine

Each of the three types of wine can be made in a variety of styles according to colour and taste

Colour

The colour of wine can be determined by the type of grapes used

Red

The colour of red wine comes from using black grapes to make the wine as the colour comes from the grape skins. The juice is fermented in contact with the grape skin, colouring the juice

White

White wine is usually made from the juice of white grapes however it is possible to make with black grapes (with skins removed)

Rosé

These wines are made from black grapes where the wine had had less contact with the skins. Rosrosé wines are usually not as full as red wines but offer more body than white.
Rosé tend to be a very seasonal drink, selling mostly in the summer

Sweetness

Grape juice is naturally sweet but as yeast feeds on the grape sugars during fermentation, the juice becomes less sweet.
The yeast will die once the alcohol reaches 15% or when all the sugars have been used. Once the yeast is dead, any sugar remaining in the wine will determine how sweet a wine is.

Dry

The majority of wine you will taste will be dry because the yeast will have turned all the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.
Most red wines and the majority of white are dry, although some are drier than others. Example of a dry wine is Sauvignon Blanc.
Dry red wines include Châteauneuf-du-Pape from France, Chianti from Italy and Cabernet Sauvignon from California.

Medium

Medium wines will usually be white or rosé. To make a medium wine the winemaker either removes the yeast from the juice before all
the sugar has been consumed or adds unfermented, sweet grape juice to dry wine. A medium wine should have sweetness but not be sickly.
Many popular wines from Germany are in this style as are many rosé wines.

Sweet

The amount of sugar in sweet wines makes them feel thicker and richer. Sweet wines can be made from grapes so rich in sugar that the yeast dies
before all the sugar is consumed. The sweetness should be balanced with a refreshing acidity to prevent these wines from being sickly. Alternatively
the yeast can die through the addition of extra alcohol. Examples of sweet wines include Sauternes from France.

Body

This is the general feel of the wine in the mouth when you taste.

Light Bodied

Wines light in body are usually refreshing and easy to drink. An example of a light-bodied white is Pinot Grigio and for red is Beaujolais.

Medium Bodied

The wine will feel richer and more substantial. This is because of the grapes used or because the wine may have been in oak barrels.
Examples of medium-bodied wines include white Burgundy from France and Merlot.

Full Bodied

The wine will be powerful and will seem more concentrated and heavy. This is usually due to the ripeness of the grape and for some wines the use of oak.
Examples of full-bodies wines are oaked Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia

Other factors

The other considerations you should take into account when describing a wine style are:

Oak

If you might of seen Oak on wine labels. This means that the wine has been fermented or matured in oak and will have gained flavours, tannin
and texture from contact with the wood. White wines can become buttery and gain vanilla flavours. Red wines can become smoother with added spicy character.

Tannin

Tannin is a substance found in black grape skins. Tannin is felt on the teeth, gums and tongue and makes the mouth feel dry. It is the same substance
that makes black tea feel dry. It can makea young red wine seem harsh. It give wines structure and complexity as well as helping it to mature.

Acidity

Acidity comes from grape juice and is very importance to wine. It gives the wine its refreshing qualities. You can detect acidity by a mouth
watering sensation. Too much acidity can make the wine tart. With too little, the wine will be flabby and seem flat. Acidity can help a wine mature
such as the white wines made from Riesling from Germany.

Tannin and acidity test

You will need one grape. First peel one of the grapes so you have the skin separate from the flesh of the grape.
If your peeled grape has pips - separate the pips from flesh and set aside.
Now taste the flesh only - what are you tasting and where in your mouth are you tasting it? Did your mouth water?

That is acidity

Can you taste sweetness on the tip of your tongue?

That is the sugars in the grape juice

Next chew the skin. What has happened to your mouth? Did your mouth dry out?

That is the effect of the tannin in the skins

What makes wines different?

To understand what makes wines different we will first need to look at how grapes ripen. It is important that grapes have enough sunlight and heat to ripen.
If there is enough sunlight and heat, the grapes ripen properly, the level of acid drops and the level of sugar increases. In the case of black grapes the skins
change colour too from green to red and then deep purple. If there is not enough sunlight and heat then the grapes remain too acidic and they do not become
sweet enough.

The amount of sunlight and heat that a region normally gets is known as climate
Knowledge of a region's climate gives us an idea of the expected temperature and weather conditions the grapes experience and the style of wine
likely to be made

Cool Climate

Examples include regions in Northern France and Germany. Cool climate regions will give wines that are ...

Hot Climate

Examples include regions in Southern France, Central Span and Australia. Hot climate regions will give wines that are ...

Principal Grape Varieties

The variety or blend of varieties used to make a wine has the biggest influence on the style of wine produced. There are hundreds of grape varieties suitable for
winemaking but only a small number of varieties have established a reputation for making outstanding wines.

Named Wines made from Principal Grape Varieties

In Europe, many wines are named after the region they are produced in
Famous examples include...

Other Popular Named Wines


Food and Wine

Sweetness in food
  • Increases the perception of bitterness, acidity and the warming effect of the alcohol in the wine.
  • Decreases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.
  • Sweetness in a dish can make dry wine seem less fruity and taste unpleasantly acidic.

  • Umami in food
  • Increases the perception of bitterness, acidity and the warming effect of the alcohol in the wine.
  • Decreases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.
  • Bitterness in wine comes from tannins extracted from grapes or oak. For a balanced high-tannin wine,
    the change in perceived bitterness may not appear to be excessive and will not be enough to unbalance the wine.
    However, low-tannin red wines, or white wines made with oak or skin contact can become surprisingly bitter
    and unbalanced when consumed with umami rich foods.

  • Acidity in food
  • Increases the perception of body, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.
  • Decreases the perception of acidity in the wine.

  • Salt in food
  • Increases the perception of body in the wine.
  • Decreases the perception of bitterness and acidity in the wine.

  • Bitterness in food
  • Increases the perception of bitterness in the wine.

  • Chilli heat in food
  • Increases the perception of bitterness and acidity and the burning effect of alcohol in the wine.
  • Decreases the perception of body, richness, sweetness and fruitiness in the wine.
  • The effects caused by chilli heat are greater in wines with high alcohol levels than those with lower alcohol levels.
  • Alcohol also increases the burning sensation of the chilli.

  • High-risk foods
  • Sugar - dishes high in sugar should be paired with a wine that has at least as much sugar as the dish.
  • Umami - Umami in the food will emphasize the astringency and bitterness of the tannins and therefore the chosen wine will need to have the necessary components such as concentrated fruit flavours to be able to cope with the change in the wine.
  • Bitterness - Dishes high in bitterness will emphasise bitterness in wine. Consider white wines or low-tannin reds.
  • Chilli heat - Dishes high in chilli heat would be paired with white wines or low-tannin reds, neither of which should be high in alcohol.
    A wine’s fruitiness and sweetness can also be reduced by chilli heat so consider wines with high levels of these components to make this effect less severe.

  • Low-risk foods
  • Dishes that are high in salt and/or acid generally pair well with wine.
    Note, however that high-acid foods should generally be matched with high-acid wines otherwise the wines can taste too soft and flabby
    Example - New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Loire Valley wines such as Sancerre and Vouvray, along with the white wines of Alsace and Germany.


  • Appreciate wine

    How to taste like an expert

    The only difference between tasting and straightforward drinking is paying a little more attention.

    Appearance Matters

    Whatever the age or type of wine, it should look clean and clear in the glass, not cloudy or murky. After that, colour will give a clue to the style. A young, fresh Pinot Grigio will be a pale straw, a fuller Chardonnay (such as white Burgundy) an almost golden yellow. The density of colour in a red wine indicates how full-bodied it is.

    Nose your stuff...

    Swirl the glass to release the full aroma. Then stick your nose deep in the glass and take a few short sniffs. Like colour, smell can help you tell the age of the wine. Young wines will retain their fruity, floral aromas. By contrast, an older claret will have a firmer bouquet of mixed fruits. And wine aged in oak will display toasty vanilla notes.

    Enjoy a good glug...

    Take a real slurp to roll around your tongue. The tongue does the work - it can distinguish four basic types of flavour: sweetness on the tip of the tongue, salt (not common in wine) just behind the tip, acidity at the sides and bitterness at the back. Hold the wine in your mouth for a little while to really savour the flavours.

    Score on the doors... did you like it?

    Notice the aftertaste - the length of flavour. A young, fruity wine will not linger, a fine mature will leave a clear impression that persists before fading. Try lots of different wines to find what you like


    Bordeaux's Big Five

    The First Growth Bordeaux wines are among the world’s most expensive and famous wines.

    Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan, Graves)

    Equal quantities of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

    Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac)

    70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot

    Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac)

    80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot

    Chateau LaTour (Pauillac)

    80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot

    Chateau Margaux (Margaux)

    75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot