All You Need To Know About Wine – An (Almost) A to Z!

STELLAR PROMOTION: Wine expert Nadia El Ferdauossi takes us through the wine alphabet!

Photo: Cian Copeland (cianc.ie)

If you’ve ever wanted to impress your pals with your wine knowledge, for this month’s STELLAR x Centra #WinesWeLove Club look no further than wine expert Nadia El Ferdaoussi’s (almost) A-Z of everything you need to know about wine.

A – acidity 

This is what makes wine literally mouth watering, it can give you that zesty or tart feeling and you’ll really notice it on the sides of your tongue. Acidity is also really important to keep a wine tasting fresh and it’s necessary if you want to age a wine

B – bubbles

Did you know that there aren’t any bubbles inside a bottle of Champagne? The fizz only appears when you open and pour, this is because of the change of pressure – the trapped carbon dioxide escapes as bubbles

C – clarification 

Most wines will go through a clarification process; the product used will determine whether the wine is vegan or not. Often milk protein or egg whites are put to use, so check the label if you’re vegan

D – decanting

Most young wines don’t need to be decanted, but if you don’t want to open up the wine and let it breathe you don’t need a fancy decanter. Essentially it’s moving the wine from the bottle into another vessel which can even be a jug, feel free to pour it back into the bottle before serving

E – etiquette 

If you want to appear like a pro, always top up others before yourself and hold the bottle towards the bottom, open sparkling wine as quietly as possible and hold your wine glass by the stem or base

F – fermentation

Without it there would be no alcohol. Yeast is added to pressed grape juice and turns delicious sugars into delicious alcohol. Natural wines are fermented by the ambient yeast on grapes skins or ‘wild yeast’ for a spontaneous fermentation, but most winemakers add a cultured yeast to kick things off and to keep consistency in the finished product

G – grapes 

The grapes used to make wine are different to table grapes that you eat, they’re smaller with thicker skins, more sugar and have seeds. Individual varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay have distinct characteristics which create very different tasting wines

H – headache

Don’t try to blame it on sulfites – it’s more likely dehydration from alcohol, but some wine headaches may potentially be caused by a sensitivity to histamines or tannins. Either way, drink responsibly and always ensure you get enough water

The Wines We Love range is available in Centra stores nationwide

I – Ice

If you need to chill a bottle of wine quickly, mix equal amounts of ice and water in an ice bucket and submerge the bottle. Pro tip: add some salt to bring down the temperature faster

J – Jeroboam

Ever heard of this size bottle of wine? There are two kinds, one is for sparkling and holds 3 litres, or 4 bottles. The other is for still wine and holds the equivalent of 6 standard bottles, or 4.5 litres

L – legs 

Wine legs or tears on the side of your glass usually indicate wine with a higher alcohol level or viscosity due to sweetness. They don’t really give away much about the quality of the wine

M – Malbec

An inky dark red wine variety that can be found in Bordeaux blends, but it mostly grows in Argentina. Yamana Malbec, just €9 at Centra, is full-bodied yet well-balanced and fresh with plum flavours, a hint of vanilla and a velvety finish

N – natural wine

Something you’ll hear a lot more about in 2020. Natural wine is created with minimal intervention from the winemaker, meaning it’s allowed to do it’s own thing and often produces quirky and interesting wines. Try a glass at least once, you’ll either love it or hate it

O – organic wine

Because fewer chemicals are used in the production of organic wines, you could say that they are more sustainable and better for the environment, something a lot of us are reaching for on a more regular basis. Try Rock & Roots Organic Verdejo Sauvignon as an alternative to your usual white wine. The crisp, tropical blend is only €9 in Centra’s Wines We Love line up

P – pairing

This is the process of matching food with wine. Here are a couple of simple tips; the wine should be sweeter and more acidic than the food you’re drinking it with and both the food and wine should have a similar intensity of flavour. Try Centra’s 3 Little Words Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (€10) with seafood or salads

R – rosé 

Our favourite pink wine is actually made from red grapes, the juice remains in contact with the skins for a short period of time to give it that lovely blush colour. Chic Pepée rosé, only €10, has delicious flavours of crushed frozen strawberries, yet there’s no sweetness on the palette

S – sulfites

A preservative used in winemaking, SO2 helps prevent wine from oxidising. Some wines have no added sulfites, but natural sulphites will still be present. They’r also found in soft drinks and lots of different foods and there are strict regulations about how much can be used.

T – tannins 

The bitter taste you also get from green tea or really dark chocolate are also tannins at play. In wine they’re found in the skin of grapes and wooden barrels. Tempranillo is often aged for a long time in these oak barrels which helps to ‘soften’ the tannins for a smoother tasting wine. Try Centra’s Vega Roja Tempranillo Shiraz, just €8, a juicy blend with a hint of spice

U – umami

One of the five basic tastes (along with sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and sourness), it can be described as savoury and something you’d perceive from cooked meats or soy sauce. Dry white wines, or silky reds like pinot noir pair well with foods rich in umami. Try Centra’s Vega Roja Chardonnay, just €8, with a mushroom risotto finished off with parmesan

V – viognier

Delicious in blends, it’s oily texture gives white wines more body. The Of Course Sauvignon Vignier, €9 at Centra, is great value for money and pairs perfectly with fish. Viognier is also often blended with shiraz/syrah before fermentation to give the red wine an aromatic kick and is common in California, Australia and South Africa

W – winery

The actual building where wine is made which may or not be on a vineyard where the grapes are grown, as some wineries buy their grapes from local growers. Big wineries also have bottling and labelling facilities on site as well as visitor’s centres where you can taste the wine or take a tour

Z – zinfandel 

Also known as primitivo. You might remember white zinfandel, which is actually pink, our favourite noughties rose, which is actually made from the red zinfandel grape

Wines We Love is a bespoke wine collection created by a number of wine experts for Centra stores nationwide. This exclusive range makes choosing wine easy and convenient whatever the occasion, with bottles starting from just €8. For more info, head to centra.ie and follow @centra_irl on Instagram.

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