Most moms claim to be wine's biggest fan but often admit to knowing little about what's what (or even how to buy wine they like). And while you don't have to be a sommelier to buy a great bottle of vino, having a few wine smarts in your back pocket can mean the difference between a substandard cork pop and the perfect sip.
That's why we partnered with the wine pros at Winc, a subscription service that creates and curates wine from all over the world, to develop this simple primer that will help you identify the flavors you like best—and get them delivered to your doorstep.
Where to start
The simplest place to begin is between red and white.
In general, most people have an idea if they prefer one or the other, which is why Winc lets their members start the selection process with that simple question. Red wines tend to be more full-bodied, higher in tannins (more on those later), and are typically served at room temperature or slightly chilled. Whites are often lighter, crisper, and are typically served chilled.
But the great thing about the wine world is that there are always exceptions to the rule, which is why Winc refines monthly suggestions based on user feedback. "If you enjoy the wine and want to understand why, go on our site and look at how earthy it was, where it's hitting on the flavor scale to help you learn more about your palate," says Brooke Matthias, Winc's Director of Product.
Light vs. Full-bodied
Remember those tannins we mentioned? They're a naturally occuring compound in grape skins, seeds, and stems that give wine a more dominant, heavy flavor. (Think about steeping a tea bag for too long. That bitterness? That's essentially the same effect tannins have.)
While some people dislike the drying sensation tannins cause when drinking wine, they also help create wine that marries well with food because the wine won't disappear on your palate after eating something meaty or fatty.
If you're looking for something lighter, reach for a wine with a higher acid content. Acidity can be compared to tartness (think of biting into a lemon wedge) and typically produces the same "puckering" response of drinking something slightly sour, like lemonade. In wine, it tends to give your pour a crisp, clean sip without a lot of aftertaste or heaviness on the tongue.
Sweet vs. Dry
Many newbie wine drinkers often prefer something with a sweeter taste until they've had a chance to diversify their palate, but sweetness in wine isn't the same as sweetness in dessert.
"There's a difference between residual sugar and something that has a higher fruit concentration," Matthias says. "A lot of people think their wine is sweet, but it's actually fruity. And just because it's high in fruit flavor doesn't mean there's residual sugar content in the wine."
Sweet-tasting wines often taste strongest on the front of the tongue (where the majority of sweet-sensing taste buds occur). Drier wines can be either higher in tannins (for a more bitter flavor) or higher in acidity and tend to have less fruit concentration.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Of course, the best part of figuring out which wines you prefer is experimentation! That's where Winc comes in.
When members first sign up, they take a flavor quiz to determine their current taste preferences. From there, Winc puts together a customized box of four wines based on your preferences—and delivered right to your doorstep. (Note: Someone 21 years or older must be present to sign for the box.)
With each monthly delivery, you can look up your wines to learn more about what you like about them (are they earthy? fruity? full-bodied?) and rate what you like best. Those ratings help Winc's experts to carefully select your future deliveries to cater to your specific palate.
Prefer to take charge of your own destiny? Winc also lets you sub in bottles of your choice (the perfect opportunity to try the wine with the cool label or the funky-sounding name).
With each delivery, you get a more and more personalized experience targeted to your own taste buds—and learn more about what makes your perfect pour. Now that's something we can raise a glass to.
There must be an adult (21+) present to sign for all Winc shipments. Currently, Winc is unable to ship to P.O. mailboxes or to the following States: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Utah.
This article is sponsored by Winc. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.