Wine 101

There is so much to learn about wine, it can be daunting, but here are a few tips to start you off.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

The same can be said for wine. We are all too often seduced by an attractive label.

Quality designations

Most countries have designations reserved for higher-quality wines. Canada has the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), France has the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) and Italy has the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and the higher DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).

The year

Many wines are intended to be consumed within a year or two. The year of harvest is more telling for wines from cooler climates, where temperatures vary and can affect the quality of the grape.

Conditions apply

To ensure your wine is drinkable, let alone improved by aging, you must have a suitable cellar or well-insulated area—an unsuitable environment will ruin it. Some bottles can be stored for decades.

Let it breathe

You can improve an inexpensive bottle of red wine by opening it two or three hours before drinking. It also looks very elegant when served from a decanter.

Avoid wasting leftover wine

Pour leftover wine into a smaller bottle and seal with a tight-fitting cork. Or use a pump that removes the air from a half-finished bottle so the wine returns to its unopened state. Wine is a nice addition to stews, casseroles and pasta sauces.