What effects the taste of Wine

  • Grape Variety
  • Climate
  • Soil
  • Weather
  • Viticulture (the way grapes are grown)
  • Vinification (the way wine is made)


How Wine is Made



To make white wines the grapes are picked, crushed and pressed quickly to extract the juice and retain freshness. The juice is then fermented in vats for 2-4 weeks. Vats are most commonly made of steel or wood. Fermentation then occurs – this is simply added yeasts feeding on the sugars in the grapes and turning them into alcohol.


The crushed grapes are allowed to mix with the skins during fermentation to allow the juice to soak up the natural colour from the skins. This process is called maceration. As well as colour, the juice soaks up ‘tannins’ from the skin – that’s what makes the roof of your mouth feel dry when you taste red wines. The longer the juice soaks up the tannins and colour, the more full-bodied the wine will be. Pressing occurs after fermentation.


Made the same way as red wine but not allowed skin contact for as long to produce a pink rather than a red colour. Rosé wines are not a blend of red and white wines as if often thought.

Once made some wines can then be matured before bottling. This is usually done in oak barrels which add flavour to the final wine. Different types of oak barrels impart different flavours. Oak flavour can also be added by dunking oak chips into the vat.


White Wine Grapes to Know

Burgundy Champagne California Australia Worldwide Crisp and dry to rich, full and oaky
Sauvignon Blanc 
(‘Soveenyon Blon’)
Loire Bordeaux New Zealand Chile Worldwide Crisp, citrus, fragrant and fruity – dry
Bordeaux Australia Complex dry to intensely sweet
Chenin Blanc 
(‘Shenin Blon’)
Loire South Africa Simple dry to lusciously sweet
Germany Alsace Australia New Zealand South Africa Fragrant. Range of styles. Off-dry to sweet.
Pinot Grigio 
(‘Peeno Greejio’)
North Italy Alsace Eastern Europe California Simple, neutral, dry


Red Wines to Know

Cabernet Sauvignon
(‘Cabernay Soveenyon’)
Bordeaux (Medoc) Worldwide Powerful, Tannic, Blackcurrant Fruit
Bordeaux (St. Emilion) Worldwide Soft, Fleshy, Plummy Fruit – Quaffable
Rhône Australia Worldwide – Hot Robust, Spicy, Blackberry Fruit
Pinot Noir 
(‘Peeno Nwar’)
Burgundy Champagne New Zealand Oregon Worldwide – Cool Fragrant, Soft, Red Berry Fruit
Rioja Navarra Chile Argentina Rich, Velvety, Oaky
Tuscany California Light to Full-Bodied, Cherry Fruit




What Wine to drink with Food



Usually requires bone dry, fairly neutral flavoured white wines with good acidity (e.g. Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis) but lobster or crab or prawns can be matched well by more grapey styles such as Viognier or Pinot Gris. Fino Sherry works too.


Slightly heavier, less acidic white wines than seafood (e.g. oaked white Rioja or Chardonnay) but often the sauce will be as important as the actual fish. Lighter non-tannic reds (e.g. new world Pinot Noir) can match with salmon if required.


Either light reds (Beaujolais, Loire Valley reds, Pinot Noirs) or white wines with fuller flavours (Riesling and oaky Chardonnay are particularly well suited). Again, the sauce will affect the choice of wine.


Traditionally the occasion for red wines. Stronger flavoured casseroles, meats and game call for stronger flavoured big red wines such as Shiraz, Zinfandel or Barolo. Cabernet wines, heavier Pinot Noirs and Tempranillo (e.g. Rioja) are perfect with lamb or beef. Pork can be paired with either medium-bodied reds or whites such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. Duck is suited to fruity reds and in particular, Pinot Noir.


Food that is chargrilled (or often burnt!) will require robust
reds to compliment the strong flavours. Wines from countries where the barbecue is the regular way of cooking, such as Australia (Shiraz), South Africa (Pinotage) or California (Zinfandel) will go best. Grilled seafood and fish will also go well with New World wines – Chardonnays or Sauvignon Blancs. Don’t forget rosé wine – perfect for summer afternoons.


Sweet and sour dishes require white wines with plenty of flavour (e.g. Gewurztraminer or New Zealand Sauvignon). Curries are probably better with young fruit-led red wines such as Australian Shiraz or medium-dry rosés. Fruity, medium-dry styles will temper the heat of chilli and curry/spices.


Do note that there are some great matches with white wine and cheese (particularly Dutch, goats or soft cheeses). Red wines tend to go better with hard cheeses such as cheddar. In terms of red wine -

the softer the cheese, the lighter the red; the heavier the red, the harder the cheese. Try sweet late harvest whites with blue cheeses or Port.


Most sweet late harvest white wines have the right levels of sugar for puddings, such as fruit salad, fruit tarts and mousses. Sweet Sherries, Australian Liqueur Muscats or Sauternes are rich enough to accompany sweeter desserts and even chocolate- based puddings where rich, fruity new world Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel can also excel.


Top ten tips to sell Wine

  1. You do not have to be an expert to sell wine well…just learn the grape varieties and the main differences in flavour
  2. Make wine visible in your outlet
  3. Store wine correctly – lay down, neutral temperature and lighting
  4. Always rotate your stock and check lot codes
  5. Do not pour wine away, encourage customer trial
  6. Price your wine to encourage trial and the sale of more expensive wines
  7. Train your staff – give them the basic knowledge so they can sell with confidence
  8. Use brands to give customers confidence and build their trust in your list
  9. Promote wine using simple mechanics such as wine of the month
  10. Ask your customers for feedback