Why is wine compared to fruits and spices?
We try and describe wines using words that we know from other tastes and smells: see the Flavour Wheel. Wine is made up of chemical
compounds which are similar to those in fruits, vegetables and spices. Different grape varieties are associated with the aromas and tastes
of different compounds.
What should I look for when tasting wine?
Wine tasting involves all the senses: sight, smell and taste (as well as texture!). Each sense gives you clues as to the wine's overall taste profile.
What is a wine's taste profile?
When describing a wine's taste, we try and explain it using words such as body, acidity, tannin (mostly reds) and fruit.
How long can you keep a wine once it is opened?
Wine evolves once the bottle is opened and has a finite life span. It is the gradual exposure to oxygen that ages a wine. Once you open the wine,
you are accelerating this procedure. The higher the alcohol, the more robust the wine. Most half-full bottles of wines and champagnes will oxidise
overnight. Fortified wines have been stabilised with the addition of spirit, so there is a little more leeway.
Vintage Portas this is still maturing in the bottle, keep for 5 to 7 days;
Tawny Port/Madeira As this has finished its maturation in the barrel, keep for up to 1 month.
Fino/Manzanilla Sherry These fine, delicate sherries should only be kept for 5-7 days.
Amontillado Sherry Can be kept for not more than a week.
Cream Sherry Can be kept for up to 1 month.
Bear in mind that the more exposure to air, the quicker the wine will become oxidised; i.e. the wine in a half empty bottle will oxidise sooner than a
bottle with one glass out of it. Also, the way the wine has been made affects how quickly a wine becomes oxidised. Generally, the more naturally
made, the sooner the wine will oxidise. Also, the older a wine or vintage port, the quicker they will oxidise, as they are towards the end of their life.
What is an organic wine?
Today many conscientious wine producers are making every effort to minimise the use of chemicals in their vineyards. In France they call this
lutte raisoné broadly translated as a rational fight against the problems of insects, weeds and fungus. This involves monitoring pest levels and
only spraying when necessary. Organic viticulture is different. The regulations are strict and limit producers to using only naturally occurring products
for pest control.
What is a biodynamic wine?
This is an 'ultra-organic' wine. A bio-dynamic vineyard works with the rhythms of the earth in accordance with the cycles of the moon.
Is wine good for you?
There is growing scientific evidence that regular moderate consumption of wine is good for you. Red wine in particular is said to reduce the
risk of coronary heart disease. The cholesterol that blocks arteries is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LPD). This is cleared from the blood
by high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HPD). Both are carried in the blood. Moderate alcohol consumption produces a better balance of the two.
In addition, alcohol has an anticoagulant effect which makes blood less likely to clot. There is also evidence that wine can reduce the risk of
developing Alzheimer's disease or having a stroke.
How many calories does a glass of wine have?
A glass of dry red or white wine has approximately 110 calories. Sweeter wine with residual sugar as well as alcohol has more calories.
The higher the alcohol content, the higher the number of calories.
What are the most common faults found in wine?
Please go to our Wine Faults for information about common wine faults.