Basics of Wine: A Beginners Guide for Hoteliers

Wine is truly an amazing beverage. It oozes class, style, sass, and, of course, it’s been proven to boost a raft of health benefits. In this post, we present Wine Basics for all wine lovers and most importantly for the people from the hospitality industry. This should also be helpful for the aspiring hotel management professionals as Wine and Beverage is one of the key subjects in the hotel management studies.

Here’s the thing that most people don’t get: there’s more to wine than meet the eye. So, learning wine basics is certainly indispensable for any wine lover and hotelier.

What we present here is an effort to bring the best of wine basics in a single article along with providing the basic terminology of wine and food-wine pairing basics.

Get ready to take a dip into the wine world quickly in the company of some great wine facts and information about wines.

Let’s begin this with a quote. Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote on wine goes like this;

Wine makes daily lives easier, less hurried, with less tension and more tolerance.

Benjamin Franklin

Wine 101

Whether you are looking to join the wine bandwagon or work in the hotel industry, here’s a beginners guide to wine that’ll certainly make things effortlessly easy for you.

For starters, wine is made with grapes. Of course, these are not the kind of grapes you find on the grocery store’s aisles.

They are tiny, sweet and seeded fruits with thick skins. What is amazing, however, is that there are over 1000 different varieties of wine grapes found in vineyards, but only a few of them are farmed for wine-making across the globe.

Here is a fun fact on wine for you.

Did you know that it is the relentless efforts and research by Monks led to the commoditization and mass production of what we know as ‘wines’?

Champagnes Dom Pérignon is actually named after a monk.

Understanding your Wine- Wine Basics

It is extremely important to understand Wine which is based on a few very important characteristics. We have mentioned a few below.

  • Acidity– Have you felt the tinginess when tasting a wine. That is due to the acidity. The acidity keeps the wine fresh. Normally, more is the acidity, the cooler would be the climate of the place where the wine is from.
  • Alcohol- Normally all Wines range between 7-17% alcohol range which is mentioned on the bottle sticker. Normally a warmer climate leads to more ripened grapes which add to the alcohol content.
  • Tannin– This is probably a key in differentiating an amateur with an expert of wine. It refers to the dryness and is an antioxidant preservative. To know the tannin content just swirl the wine around your gums.
  • Container and Complexity– Have you heard of aged wines. Also, you might have heard of wooden containers and casks to store wines. Oak is the favourite wood for wine. Ageing adds complexity and body to the wine and when done in Oak containers, it adds to the charm.

 Now its turn for another interesting fact about wines.

 As per research red wine can lower the effect of cholesterol buildup by consuming red meat due to the presence of antioxidant polyphenols in red wines.

Wine Making Basics: Common Types of Wines

Wine is made through a series of steps that primarily include Harvesting, crushing, Fermenting, Filtering or clarification and ageing.

While it looks simple it’s easier on papers than in vineyards.

The process from Vineyards to the Wine Cellar is a long one and it takes ages to have the best wines. That’s what is supposed to be the meaning of aged wines though!

As you might expect, there are myriad of wine in the world, but let’s look at top 10 types of wines that are common in the hotel industry and the wine basics for each of these.

Knowing these wines is very much part of your wine basics guide.

All Major hotel chains ensure that they have a huge variety of wine in this Wine menu. Let’s check a few of them here. 

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

This full-bodied red grape wine that calls Bordeaux, France home because Cabernet Sauvignon is extensively farmed in this region. Nowadays, this wine has become one of the most popular across the globe.

They feature bold tannins and a persistent finish that is typically driven by high alcohol and tannin content found in these wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon is often called the King of red grapes.

2. Syrah

Also a full-bodied wine, this wine made with Syrah wine grapes that are extensively planted in Australia and the Rhone Valley in France. The red Rhone blend combines Syrah with Mourvedre and Grenache.

They usually feature moderate tannins and intense fruit flavours. More often than not, Syrah has a vigorous meaty finish.

3. Zinfandel

A medium-bodied red wine exotic to Croatia, Zinfandel offer a medium-fruity and spicy with a medium-weight finish.

It’s sometimes called rose wine white Zinfandel, and feature raspberry, cherry or nectarine tastes.

4. Sauvignon Blanc

Widely planted in France,  Sauvignon Blanc is light- to medium-bodied dry white wine. Cabernet Sauvignon was actually grafted from a Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine itself is usually blended with herbal greens and fruit flavours to add a little flair.

5. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir style oozes off of lighter-bodied wine with soft tannin and higher acid. It’s made with Pinot Noir wine grapes that are widely planted in the valleys of France.

Their allure lies in their soft tannin and accentuated acidity.

6. Chardonnay

Chardonnay is certainly a world-class brand of wine. It’s a full-bodied white wine that is made with wine grapes that were widely planted for the first time in France. Chardonnay has a bourbon-y and spicy taste when oak-aged.

Unoaked ones are always zesty and lighter with citrus and apple tones.

Fun fact: this wine grape is the white grape of Burgundy.

7. Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is an Italian wine grape that is also planted widely in Germany and France. The wine itself is light-to-medium-bodied, offering easy drinking.

Sometimes it has some bitter flavours like quinine and bitter almond.

8. Beringer

This is One of the most popular wine brands across North America.

The vineyard in Napa Valley, California is almost 150 years old. It is also one of the most popular wines around the globe.

9. Jacobs Creek

Very popular Wine brand with its origin in Australia.

The Creek that led to the name ‘Jacobs Creek’ was discovered in 1837 AD.

10. Hardy’s

Another classical Wine from Australia serving excellent wines from almost 170 years.

Now that you know the basics of the complex Wine world, remember these to flaunt your Wine knowledge.

Did you know that a glass of wine has as many antioxidants as 20 glasses of apple juice?

Source- SCL HEalth

Basic terminology of wines- Wine Basics

This again is a key part of the wine basics.

There are a lot of words associated with Wine tasting. If you are to please a Wine lover or if you are becoming a Wine lover, you must know the meaning of these basic terms.

We have just used a few basic terms here with quick meaning as this is meant to be aa beginner guide for wine lovers.

But, before we move on here is another fun fact about Wines.

There are people across the globe who hate wine and are actually afraid of wines. They are called ‘Oenophobic’.Let’s get on with the wine basics list now.

1. Aroma– This is used to express about Wine flavour. Aromatic wines are used commonly by Wine lovers. This is the first point of falling in love with wines.

2. Aftertaste– This refers to the taste that is left after you have had your wine. Wine lovers are extremely possessive about the Aftertaste.

3. Corked– This refers to the spoiled taste or smell of Wine due to the tampered cork. Wines will have a foul smell if they are corked and will not taste good at all.

4. Crisp– This term is used for describing the acidity of the wine. Crisper the wine, the better it is.

5. Hard– When there is too much tannin in Wine. This is not normally preferred by wine lovers.

6. Mature– When wine is optimally aged.

7. Oxidized– Refers to a wine that has been exposed and is harmful to consume. This type of wine should be immediately discarded.

8. Tart– When the wine is extremely acidic. Again this is not a good sign.

There are much more terms like Full Bodied, Light Bodied, Fresh, Mellow, Firm and so on which describes a Wine.

Here is another interesting fact about wines.

Can you believe that the remains of production sites of wine have been found by archaeologists in Armenia which are over 6,000 years old?

Wine Blends vs. Varietal Wines

Not all wines are created equal. Sometimes winemakers combine different wine grapes to come up with what we call a wine blend.

They can even go further and blend more than one wine. On the other hand, a wine produced from a single type of grape is a varietal wine or single-variety wine.

Winemakers, especially in Europe, name their wines after the place they originated.

You’ll find labels like Bordeaux Blend (a traditional blend of Sauvignon, Cabernet, and Merlot) or Chianti (a Sangiovese blend) thrown around because they originated from Bordeaux, France and Tuscany, Italy respectively.

Food and Wine Pairing Basics

Now that you know the wine basics, it is important to enjoy the same but there are still a few things left.

Do you know how to hold a glass of wine?  Do you know how much wine in a glass is supposed to be ideal?

Here you go. Have a look.

Wine basics- Image by Wine Folly

Now back to the topic of Food Wine pairing basics.

Did you know that red wine and chocolate don’t pine together?

That’s right – some food types make a wine taste bad.

Chocolate, Sushi, Asparagus, Soy Sauce, Blue Cheese, and Brussel Sprouts are a big no-no with, especially red wine.

The science behind this mismatch ranges from wine taste mimicry to tannins and everything in between.

Here’s a simplified chart to help you get started with food and wine pairing basics.

Type of Wine Food That Pairs
RieslingChicken, Pork, Duck, Turkey, Cured Meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, Washed-rind Cheeses and Fondue
SyrahLamb, Beef, Smoked Meats; Mediterranean, French, and American Firm Cheeses Like White Cheddar, and Hard Cheeses Like Manchego
Pinot GrisSalad, Delicate Poached Fish, Light and Mild Cheeses
Cabernet SauvignonLamb, Beef, Smoked Meats, French, American, Firm Cheeses Like Aged Cheddar and Hard Cheeses Like Pecorino
Sauvignon BlancFish, Chicken, Pork, Veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, Herb-crusted Goat Cheese, Nutty Cheeses Such as Gruyère
ZinfandelChicken, Pork, Cured Meat, Lamb, Beef, Barbeque, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Full-flavored Like Cheddar and Firm Cheeses Such as Manchego
ChardonnayLobster, Crab, Shrimp, Chicken, Pork, Mushroom, French, Cream Sauces, Soft Cheeses Such as Triple Cream Brie, Medium-firm Cheeses Like Gruyère
Pinot NoirChicken, Pork, Veal, Duck, Cured Meat, French, German, Cream Sauces, Soft Cheeses, Nutty Medium-firm Cheeses Like Gruyère

So, next time when you plan a vacation, Wine Tourism can definitely be an option to explore. 


There are numerous Health Benefits of Wine which are proven scientifically.

If you are one of those Wine geeks who just can’t have enough about wines then there are a few recommended sites which have a lot of information about wine and fun facts about wine.

Vinepair,  Wine Searcher and Wine Enthusiast Magazine might do good to your Wine news appetite.