The Ultimate Guide To Wine For The Clueless

There’s a weird thing that happens when you move away to college. Everyone starts casually drinking wine. Suddenly everybody is a wino and having a glass of wine with their dinner of microwaved Lean Cuisines as if they weren’t just chugging Mike’s Hard Lemonades a few months prior.

It’s a very quick, unexpected transition. You mean, you can drink to enjoy the flavor and not just for getting hammered on a Wednesday? It’s a whole new world. If you’re like me, and didn’t grow up in a wine household, you probably know nothing about wine. It’s okay, we can get through this together. Use this as your cheat sheet and you’ll be leading winery tours before you know it.

8 Common Types

These are the wines you’re most likely to find while you aimlessly stroll down the wine aisle at the grocery store pretending to know what you’re looking at.
Riesling: white, dry, semi-sweet/sweet
Pinot Grigio: white, dry, semi-sweet/sweet
Sauvignon Blanc: white, dry, sweet
Chardonnay: white, crisp
Pinot Noir: red, lightly tannic
Zinfandel: red, dry, semi-sweet. sweet
Syrah: red, dry
Cabernet Sauvignon: red, dry

9 Styles

Sparkling Wine (Cava), Light White Wine (Pinot Grigio), Full-Bodied White Wine (Chardonnay), Aromatic White Wine (Riesling), Rosé, Light Red Wine (Pinot Noir), Medium Red Wine (Cabernet), Full-Bodied Red Wine (Syrah), Dessert Wine (Port)

Wine Vocab

Aroma: The smell. Duh.
Bouquet: The aroma of older wines.
Body: The ~weight~ of a wine in your mouth (light, medium, or full).
Crisp: A wine that is more acidic tasting.
Dry: Not sweet (AKA disgusting).
Finish: The wine’s aftertaste. A particularly extra term.
Fruity: A wine’s aromas and flavor that tastes fruity, doesn’t necessarily have to be sweet.
Oaky: A wine that has a smoky/toasty flavor. Um, not trying to drink a campfire.
Soft: A wine that has a smooth taste. The opposite of crisp.
Tannic: A red wine that leaves your mouth dry. Pass.


Reds: Barbera, Bardolino, Barolo, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Dolcetto, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Port (Porto), Syrah/Shiraz, Valpolicella
Reds or Whites: Bordeaux, Burgundy (Bourgogne), Côtes du Rhône, Rioja
Whites: Chablis, Champagne, Chardonnay, Mosel, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Pouilly-Fuissé, Rhine (Rheingau, Rheinhessen), Riesling, Sancerre, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Sherry, Soave, Viognier, Moscato
Reds or Pinks: Zinfandel

If all else, just swirl it around in your glass and sip slowly like you’re appreciating all of its flavors. That should fool them. And if you ask me, everyone else is probably faking it too.

[via Dummies and Wine Folly]

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Rachel Page

Rachel enjoys spending her time thinking about Britney Spears, whining about being single, and thinking about Britney Spears. She doesn't take to criticism well, so be nice or so she will cry herself to sleep! Email: [email protected]

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