Ever wondered about the world of wine? Our in-house Certified Sommelier, Jimmy “The Wine Guy” Quaile, is here to answer all your questions. Here are some of the most common ones he receives at Roger Wilco:
Q: What is the best way to learn about wine?
A: Taste! Ok, ok...I would start by buying one of the best books on wine, Wine For Dummies. Read along and taste the wines while keeping notes in a wine journal or plain old copybook. Don’t try to use “wine speak” descriptors. Language you understand is all that matters.
A good starting point is a fresh and fruity wine with very little tannins, like Beaujolais! Although you can spend a lifetime trying different grapes, remember to try the same grape from different countries before moving on. Taste it with and without food. To make it more fun (and less expensive!) put together a group of friends. Learning wine should be fun.
Q: What exactly are tannins, and why are they in wine?
A: Tannins are a naturally occurring polyphenol found in the skins, seeds, and stems of a grape. They are mostly prevalent in red wines. It is more a textural element than something you can taste, but there is a perception that it makes the wine “taste” more astringent. Even non-wine drinkers are familiar with tannins. Tea, Walnuts, Cinnamon, Clove, and Dark Chocolate all have high levels of tannins. Winemakers love tannins because they are an antioxidant to protect the wine. Wine collectors love tannins because they make the wine age-worthy. As wines age the tannins become softer and make the wine velvety smooth. But wine, as in all things in life, is about moderation. A wine that is too tannic is unappealing at any age.
Q: How much sugar is in wine?
A: Grapes, like all fruit, have sugar levels that depend on their ripeness. During fermentation the sugar metabolizes the yeast and turns into alcohol. So the sugar content is inversely proportional to the alcohol level ~ the higher the alcohol, the less sugar. The alcohol level is listed on every bottle. A five-ounce glass of red table wine typically contains about 0.9 grams of total sugar, while a glass of chardonnay contains about 1.4 grams.
Q: Does wine get better with age?
A: When you consider the vast majority of wines that do not get better compared with the small percentage that do, you are left with the plain and simple fact that wine does not get better with age. It is estimated that 90% of wines are best consumed in the first year, and 99% within 3 to 5 years of the vintage. Only a select few have the necessary elements (acid, tannin, sugar, etc) to age for extended periods of time.
Q: How do I know if a wine is Gluten free?
A: All wine is naturally Gluten free. Even though winemakers may use fining agents to remove unwanted elements that add gluten, the gluten remains behind as sediment at the bottom of the storage container when the wine is filtered and transferred to bottles. Any remaining traces of gluten after fining falls below 20 parts per million or 0.002% — the limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for labeling items gluten-free.
Have any more questions that Jimmy didn’t answer here? Curious about the winemaking process? Don’t know which bottle to pick for your upcoming party? Visit our Tasting Bar or Wine Country at Roger Wilco Pennsauken any time to ask our somm any wine-related questions you may have. He’ll be happy to talk you through the wonders of wine and help you find that perfect bottle.