Wine is one of those things that taste great with food, friends or even on its own.  A couple years ago I couldn’t tell the difference between a Shiraz versus a Super Tuscan. Now, with a finance who loves wine almost more than he loves me, I have learned to appreciate not only the flavors of wine but also the process of making wine.  So as my fiancé, James, and I make our way to Napa here is a beginners guide to wine.


Wine Smells

Wine tasting is complicated due to all the aromas that come from each individual wine.  However, part of tasting wine is understanding what exactly it is you are tasting.

  • To start, give the wine a good swirl after it has been poured into the proper wine glass.  This helps open up the wine to release some of its smells.
  • Next, smell the wine by taking a series of quick, short sniffs to let the smells resonate in your brain.

After the initial smells here is where the fun begins, deciphering what it is you are smelling.

  • Fruit Aromas
    • Wine is made out of grapes so it is common to smell fruit aromas
  • Flowers, Leaves, Herbs, Spices and Vegetables
    • Floral –> common in cool climate white wines like Riesling
    • Herbal/grassy scents –> think Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Earthy –> Mushrooms, damp earth, leather and rock scents are common in many red wines.
  • Toast, Smoke, Vanilla, Chocolate, Espresso, Nuts
    • Most commonly found in wines that have aged in oak barrels


Wine Tasting

After all that smelling it is time to taste the wine.  Take a sip and taste the array of flavors you just smelled – fruit, floral, herbs, minerals, etc. The most important thing about wine tasting is to identify what it is that you like or don’t like about a wine.  This helps when trying to branch out to other brands or kinds of wines.

The Health from Wine 

It sometimes seems like it is impossible for something as enjoyable as wine can be good for us but just like everything, it is all within reason.  Here are the top health benefits of drinking wine, according to Food and Wine magazine.

  1. Longevity
    1. Research shows wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer/spirit drinkers.
  2. Reduces Heart Attack Risk
    1. Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack.
  3. Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
    1. Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease.
  4. Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    1. Moderate red-wine drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes
  5. Lowers the Risk of Stroke
    1. The risk of suffering a blood clot drops about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of red wine.
  6. Cuts Risk of Cataracts
    1. Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers.
  7. Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer
    1. Moderate consumption of red wine cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent.Slows Brain Decline
  8. Slows Brain Decline
    1. Brain function declines at a faster rate in non-moderate red wine drinkers.

So grab a glass of red wine (4-6 oz) and enjoy the aroma and flavors while enjoying their health benefits.