Become a Wine Aficionado in 5 Easy Steps

Autumn is the perfect time to embrace wine. The heat and humidity are gone (for the most part) and wine can be sipped, not gulped because you’re dying of thirst. This is the time for football on Saturdays, outdoor patios for dinner, and relaxing by the fireplace in the evenings. For anyone who wants to pair these fall activities with the perfect wine, here are five steps to knowing enough about wine to at least sound like an aficionado.

  1. KNOW THE BASICS. Wines have five characteristics: acidity, body, fruit, sweetness and tannin. Acidity in wine is the tartness. Body (light, medium or heavy) refers to the richness of the wine and and how it feels in your mouth. It is also a determining factor in what it should be paired with. Fruit is the base ingredient and helps determine the flavor. The sweetness of a wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar in it. Tannins are the chemical compounds found in wine which can affect the aging, color and texture of the wine, and can be the cause of some “morning after” headaches.
  2. UNDERSTAND THE LINGO. There are four main types of wines: white, red, rose and sparkling. White wine is the most popular and made from the fermentation of the uncolored inside pulp of grapes. Red wine is the second most popular and is produced from crushed black grapes, getting both flavor and color from this process. Rose wines are made from a wide variety of grapes and get some of their color from grape skins, but not enough to make them red wines. Sparkling wines have a significant level of carbon dioxide in them to make them fizzy. Champagne is the ultimate example of a sparkling wine. Other lesser talked about wine types include ice wine, orange wine, fortified wine and dessert wine.
  3. DO SOME SAMPLING. The “hard” part about becoming more well-versed in wine is that you have to drink it more (responsibly of course). You can buy several varieties and do your own tasting at home, or head out to a local wine tasting and try your hand out in public. Check out the Wine Cellars in Smyrna Market Village. Every Saturday afternoon, they host tastings of 5-6 different wines for only $5 per person.
  4. PAIR AWAY. Challenge yourself to do some wine pairing with the dinners you are already cooking. Plan a meal based on the kind of wine you want to serve. And don’t limit yourself to which food the “experts” say should be paired with which wine. Be bold! Try something new!
  5. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK FOR HELP. Of course, there’s an app for that! Download the Next Glass app ( and let your smart phone suggest your next favorite wine or beer. Using science and technology, Next Glass can predict what kind of drink you’ll love without all the fancy adjectives you don’t care about anyway.