Wine 101

12: Wine Vintages

You’ve probably noticed that wines – unlike most people – like to show off their age in large and shiny print, right?

This is one of many idiosyncrasies of our lovely drinkable friend, and the why and the how of it can sometimes be confusing. Indeed, why bother to indicate a date on a bottle? Does older necessarily mean better wine? If a wine does not mention a vintage date, is it necessarily a sign that it will be gut-wrenchingly bad? Time to answer these questions by dropping some intel on you right now.

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Wine 101

11. Terroir and its Effect on Wine

As we have already seen, the notion of terroir falls straight at the center of any (serious) discussion about wine. And for good reasons.

That said, many of you have shared with me that although they now appreciate knowing that terroir does matter, they’d like to be able to specify what. While keeping it simple and down to earth – yep, pun intended – here is a little overview of some basic principles relating to terroir in general and its impact on the vino it produces.

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Wine 101

10. The Sad Story of Phylloxera

Phylloxera is equal parts myth, legend, and complicated scientific lingo.

As you may have learned at your expense, it is also a word that so-called connoisseurs like to throw around like candy. To help you navigate the wine circles you might now feel comfortable to mingle with (you’re welcome, guys), here is, in pure #antisomm fashion, a little 101 guide to learn the meaning of yet another prized wino buzzword: phylloxera.

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Wine 101

9. Explaining Variations in Wine Tannins

As a dedicated student of Joe Raisin, you of course wrapped up my first article on tannins by rushing out to buy a few bottles to experiment with, right?

Nice work. Feeling all that knowledge of tannins sinking in now, huh? Did your experimentation lead you to notice some differences? I know it did – ’cause you guys rock. Now, let’s see how we can answer the question all this “experimentation” (which does sound fancier than “binge drinking”) likely brought up.

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Wine 101

8. Old World vs. New World

Yet another expression you hear a lot that has lost considerable meaning through years of use and abuse.

The distinction, however, tends to refer to the philosophy and tradition animating wine producers – and yes, you can taste it! Let’s take a few minutes to chat about the main differences between these two as well as their meaning as flavor descriptors. It will save you a puzzled look for the next time around!

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Wine 101

7. Tasting Notes 101

Oh, tasting notes. The big problem with wine lingo is that it usually only talks to itself. Indeed, we often assume that only a dedicated vocabulary can be used to describe wine.

Yet, like any human experience, the goal should simply be to be understood, and not sound fancy  by using words that have no meaning to those you’re talking to. This is a time to drink, not to play f*cking Scrabbles, people.

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Wine 101

6. Talking Terroir

This has to be one of wine’s most overused buzzwords. One thing’s for sure, this vague and ill-defined “terroir” thingy clearly sells a sh*tload of bottles.

What’s funny is that several definitions of it are able to live together relatively harmoniously. This often makes me wonder if those who “sell” the land really know what they are talking about…! Anywayyy, Here’s my take on it. Who knows, maybe I’m the fool here, but this is primarily meant to make you a little more critical of all the hype marketing these industry people are throwing at you.

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Wine 101

5. Intro to Tannins

It is usually when the word “tannin” is pronounced that 90% of people drop out of a conversation about wine.

It gives a bougi impression, it sounds snooty, and – above all – we have no f*cking idea what it could possibly mean. But say we were adventurous enough to give half a sh* learning what it means, where would that lead us? Let’s take a look on the wild side.

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Wine 101

4. The 5 Grape Varietals You Need To Know

Varietal. Nice word, isn’t it? Basically, when a liquor store’s certified wine buff asks you which “varietal” you usually enjoy, he’s asking for nothing more than your favorite grape juice.

In fact, the French word “cépage” comes from the old word for foot-vineyard (cep), along with the -age suffix that indicates the derivative of a noun (like folio -> foliage, know’am’sayin?) All right, now that the etymology part is out of the way, let’s discuss the varietal’s impact on the taste of our favorite drink.

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Wine 101

3. What Makes a Great Wine?

We all have unique and particular taste, and that’s what makes life interesting (and maybe that’s why Justin Bieber still has a career…) But what OBJECTIVELY makes a great wine great? Is there even such a thing?

We often hear the words “great wine” thrown around, and especially by people who speak with some claim to authority (rightly or wrongly so…) That said, is there an objective definition of what makes “great wine,” “OK wine” and “bad wine?” Allow me to offer you some ways to look at this, though these will never be purely objective…

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