I'm just going to throw it out there right now that I am no wine expert. I have, however, been able to learn a bit of wine-related vocabulary that might help me sound like one. Basic wine knowledge will prove incredibly useful at this age as we begin to find ourselves in more situations where glasses of wine are being poured, rather than cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon being shotgunned. 

So what exactly are you supposed to say when someone asks you, "what kind of red do you prefer?" If your answer typically sounds like "the darker one" or "whatever is cheapest," then oh lord, please do read on.

Types of Wine

I'm going to focus on some basic facts on the two main kinds of wine: red and white.


Red wine is often classified as the "classy" wine of choice, so if you were to have a go at joining this clan of sophisticated people there are a couple things to know. Red wine should be served at room temperature. Don't be the noob who stocks their fridge with red wine.

If you're the one serving the wine, make sure to opt for a wine glass with a large opening. I don't know the exact science behind this but it has something to do with helping the wine oxidize. Sounds fancy enough, so let's just go with it. 

If you've opened the bottle and can't finish it in one sitting, red wine can last up to 10 days. Just make sure to keep it corked. 

One common type of red wine is Pinot Noir. It's a medium-bodied choice for those who enjoy something smooth and earthy. If you're looking for a heavy-bodied option that has a more bitter flavor, go for a Merlot. Then there's Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a full-bodied wine that is deep and bold in flavor. 


White wine is sometimes said to be preferred by people who are a little more "chilled-out." Well, that's slightly fitting since white wines should always be served chilled. Don't try pouring someone a glass of room-temperature white wine. It's not that great.

When serving white wine, use glasses with a smaller opening. Once you've opened it, make sure to drink it within three days before it goes bad. 

A very common white wine, and probably the most known to people, is Chardonnay. Chardonnay is for those who prefer a medium-bodied and very smooth wine. Sauvignon Blanc is a lighter choice that has a fruity flavor (if you're not fond of bitter and dry wines). A third common white wine is Pinot Grigio, which is also light-bodied with a hint of bitterness.

"So, What Kind of Wine do You Prefer?"

Once you've gotten the red and white preference down, there's a whole new language to be learned about the details of what kinds of reds and whites there are. You've got to know the lingo.

Words typically used to describe red wines:

Rustic, earthy, deep, bitter, and smooth.

Words typically used to describe white wines:

Light, fruity, acidic, smooth, dry, and crisp.

What does "dry" really mean?

Dry wines are simply just void of sugars. You can still get dry wines that are sweet if you look for something that is a little more fruit-centered. 

The Wine Region Matters

When you hear people talking about Tuscany, Italy or Bordeaux, France and how amazing the wineries are there, it's important to know that wine regions play a big role in the production of the wine.

Sweet grapes grow in warmer climates. So if you're a fan of sweeter wines, opt for a wine from California or New Zealand. Certain areas also produce better qualities of wine. 

Ordering Wine at a Restaurant

This always seems a little scary as it puts us in a position to sound like a complete idiot, but it really isn't that bad. The number one tip: just ask for help. Tell the waiter what kind of wine you prefer, a price range if you have one, and let them give you some suggestions.