Dumb Wine Questions - Part One

There is no such thing as a dumb wine question, but when you’re reading the back of a confusing wine label or trying to keep up when your friend is talking about a fruit-forward wine (what does that mean?! Just keep sipping and smiling) you might wish you could ask a question or two that you think is completely embarrassing.


Wine shouldn’t be complicated. At least, that’s what we believe. It’s an idea that’s at the core of everything we do, so we’re asking the questions, and answering them, for you, sometimes before you’ve even asked. It’s a great place for an “Ahh, that’s what that is” moment or two, so prepare to arm yourself with all you need to know about wine, so you can get on with the important part, the drinking, and the more important part, the enjoyment.


What is a ‘dry’ wine?

It’s a liquid, so it should be dry, right? You’re entirely correct in that assumption. Dry in the wine world is all to do with sugar. If you’re looking at the screen with a little confusion right now that’s a valid response – sugar (mostly) is also dry. So, what is dry when it’s in wine form?


The short answer


A dry wine is one that has hardly any sugar in it after it’s made, and so doesn’t taste sweet at all. It has nothing to do with a wine having a ‘dry’ sensation in the mouth.


The long (but a little more interesting and dinner party ready) answer


A dry wine is one that has little or no residual sugar (sugar that’s still in the wine once the making is done). There is a technical side to this, but we’re not going there. Essentially all wines fit on a scale from bone dry (think crisp and acidic) to sweet wines like this (very sweet, and excellent with dessert). It’s all determined by when the winemaker decides to stop the fermentation, but some grape types are made for a particular style of dryness.


It’s worth noting that almost every wine is considered dry. There are ends of the scale, the bone-dry options, and the sweet options, but the vast majority in the middle are in the dry category. That’s why it’s very noticeable when a wine has some sugar in it.


Red, white, and rosé wines can be drier or sweeter. In white wines, the drier they are, the sharper and more citric you’ll find them. In reds, the drier bottles are often more bitter and tannic.


If the idea of a dry wine is appealing, then head for the Chablis, crisp chardonnays and savoury reds like Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.


Can I put wine in the freezer?

I have a question for you in return. Why would you want to? Wine will ‘keep’ so you don’t have to freeze it if it’s unopened (and if you do it might explode!) so no preservation thoughts are needed here. If you do open a bottle and want to keep it longer than 4 days (it’ll be past it’s best by then in the fridge) then you can freeze it, and when it’s thawed, it won’t taste very different, so that’s a bonus, but we’d recommend finishing your bottle long before you consider the ice tray.


You can use the freezer to flash chill your wine when you have impromptu guests or run out of cold rosé halfway through a party. Check out our guide here.


When it comes to fizz, don’t do it. As liquid expands when it’s cold, bubbles are not great in the freezer. Forget about your bottle for just a little too long, and you’ll be cleaning your freezer for days (and your fish fingers will taste of Champagne, which is great for you but not ideal for kids).


Wine ice cubes are a thing, and can be quiet fun, especially if you’re making sangria and don’t want to dilute your cocktail through the day. Just pour a little wine into moulds and you’re golden.


What’s the perfect way to pour wine?

You can’t go wrong here as long as the wine you’re trying to put into the glass gets there. That said, if you find you’re dripping more than you want, or you put half the bottle into your lap (or worse, someone else’s) on the way to the glass, then maybe a few tips will help.


First of all, hold the bottle by the lower half. Holding the bottle by the neck is for the uncontrolled, and pirates. This gives you more control and helps with the speed and finish (two key elements).


Second, consider your contents. If you’re pouring red or white wine, easy-peasy, but if you’re dealing with sparkling, you just know you’ll get bubbles, so slow and steady wines the race.


How much you should pour depends on the glass type, the wine, and the drinker. With a red, you get a large glass, but it’s for getting the wine in contact with the air, not having a pint of wine! So less is more. With white and sparkling, you can afford a little more in the glass to wine ratio, but don’t overdo it. When you consider your drinker, make sure you pour as much as will bring them the biggest smile (it’s about enjoyment after all).


Finally, the twist. Not movie style, but in the wrist. As you come towards the end of your pour, lift the bottle top swiftly (but not too fast) and twist the bottle. This helps catch the dreaded drips. Once you lift the bottle away without spilling, try very hard not to look so happy with yourself as you put the bottle down.


Oh, and the perfect pour is always your partners/friends/guests/family members glass before your own. Stay classy, Vintners.

Written by Matt Mugan