My friends and I are absolute wine-lovers. Dark, luscious reds, crisp and citrusy whites, funky, earthy bottles from unusual places – all of it! If we could, we would want to take a trip to central California every year and then make our way to France and Italy. Obviously this isn’t an option for everyone (myself included), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t all deserve to know a bit about wine if we’re going to enjoy it regularly. Below is a little bit of wine 101 and intro to wine tips.

Some important words to know:

Vinification – the production of wine from the selection of grapes or other produce and ending with bottling the finished product.

Fermentation – the process of fermentation in wine turns grape juice into alcohol. Yeast interact with sugars in the juice to create ethanol during fermentation.

Lees – deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast that precipitate or are carried by the action of “fining” to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging.

Differences between types:

Sparkling wine – fermented under pressure, while chilled and bottled resulting in carbonation.

White – grapes are fermented without skins which results in the light-colored wines.

Rose – skins are left on for a short period which results in the pink hue.

Red – these wines get their red color from the grapes being fermented with the skins on.

Pairing wine with food:

Wine will almost always be the same shade as your food. Light food goes with the light wine. Dark food goes with the dark wine. However there are sometimes exceptions to these “rules.”

Old-school pairings went something like this: If you are eating fish, seafood, chicken, turkey or pork, drink white. If you are eating beef, bison, dark poultry like duck or pasta, you should drink red. These general guidelines still often apply, but it’s all about what you like! For example, if I’m eating a really fatty, melt-in-your-mouth piece of pork, I might prefer an acidic red to go with it. Wine pairings are supposed to complement the food you’re eating, so the possibilities are endless!

Featured image: Neville Nel via Flickr CC.