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wine 101: crash Course for 
wine novice  
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Basic colors: Red, White, Blush/Rosé
Even the wine naďf will notice right away that wines come in two basic colors, red or white, with a third option being the much-maligned pink shade (blush/rosé). White wines are made from white (green) grapes, or red grapes that have been de-skinned; red ones, on the other hand, use the whole grape, skin, seeds and all. Without getting too technical – because frankly, I’m of the firm belief that wine should be enjoyed, not analyzed in quasi-scientific case study – it’s important to realize that this skin-on/skin-off difference does have a big impact on the way the wine tastes. Leaving the skins on during the wine-making process produces tannins – the higher the tannin content, the more bitter and astringent the drink. Ever eaten a grape that seemed to suck all liquid straight out of your mouth? That’s what I mean by astringent … and yes, in the right balance, it can be a delightful quality in a wine. Tannins give a slight buzz – but be forewarned: some people who are especially sensitive to tannins may get headaches … not such a nice side effect.

Most people have a bias towards either red or white. White wines tend to be more approachable – lighter and often less complex (not necessarily a bad thing), many beginning wine drinkers find them far easier to enjoy. Those who love reds, however (like myself for instance), think there’s really no contest, as it really amounts to one thing: red wines just taste more deliciously, well, wine-y. They’re fuller, richer, earthier, more satisfying … hey, I did warn you of my prejudice, didn’t I? At any rate, experiment a bit, and you’ll discover which tastes best suit you.

A word about blush wines: I’ll have to confess that I never really drink them. Unfair as it may be, I tend to associate the words "blush" and "rosé" with that disgustingly sweet, overly-fruity white zinfandel that comes in a cardboard box or big jug (note: there’s nothing inherently wrong with a cheap wine, but a good-tasting wine will never, I repeat, NEVER, come with a spigot). Actually, rumor has it that in Europe, they actually make some very nice pink wines that are quite acceptable, even by wine snob standards.

the course continues

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