You’ve always liked wine, but now you’re curious to know more about wine — besides the fact that it tastes good and makes you happy.

Here is a quick run through of the basic things a beginner needs to know (as you delve deeper into the Wine World continue on to the Intermediate, Advanced and How to Pair Wine and Food guides)

Colours of Wine

Wine comes in 3 basic colours:

  1. Red
  2. White
  3. Rosé

You may see descriptions in tasting notes like deep purple and yellow, but those belong to red and white respectively. For a more in-depth look at colour, check out the JUST WINE article “Shades of Red.”

Styles of Wine

This list comes from the Time Magazine’s Beginner’s Guide and Food52 (longer explanations and visuals can be found on both links or click on the wine itself for wine examples):

  1. Sparkling Wine
  2. Light-Bodied White Wine
  3. Medium-Bodied White Wine
  4. Full-Bodied White Wine
  5. Rosé
  6. Light-Bodied Red Wine
  7. Medium-Bodied Red Wine
  8. Full-Bodied Red Wine
  9. Dessert Wine

For a deeper understanding of style and body check out the JUST WINE Article “What’s Your Style? How alcohol content determines a wine’s style.”

Body or Weight of Wine

In the above style list and in tasting notes you will often read light, medium or full-bodied. The body of the wine is based on its alcohol content which contributes to two things:

  1. The viscosity of the wine (meaning when you swirl it how it drips back down the inside of your glass)
  2. How it feels in your mouth. A full-bodied wine will feel heavy and a light-bodied wine will, of course, feel lighter.

The generally accepted criteria for body is:

Light = under 12.5% alcohol
Medium = 12.5%-13.5% alcohol
Full = 13.5% alcohol and up


Alright, now you have some of the basics, so you will not be totally clueless when you are drinking with friends. Before you head out to a tasting check out Wine Foundations 101: Tasting Fundamentals or this video about the 4 S’s = sniff, swirl, smell, and sip


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