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Most new wine drinkers follow the same strategy: only drink one or two bottles they know they love. But think about it like this: You don’t only pick two things to eat. The world of wine has never been easier to navigate. There is now more variety and accessibility than ever before. 

Tons of terms are incredibly specific and confusing to navigate, making it hard to get used to. But, with a bit of practice and tasting, you can easily find the perfect drink for any occasion.

This guide will help you find and appreciate wine and follow easy-to-follow guidelines on how to start drinking and buying it

Red vs. White

There are many distinctions between different types of wine. The main difference between white and red is how long the skins of the grapes have been soaked in the alcohol. This determines the depth of the wine’s color. For instance, when making rosé, the production process allows the skins of the grapes to absorb just long enough to produce a subtle pink hue.

Reds: Dry vs. Sweet

Most red wines are made using the skins of red grapes, which have chemical compounds known as tannins. Before you know it, you’ll probably associate red wine with being “dry.” Once you understand what this means, it’s easy to identify the type of wine that you’re interested in.

Red wine with a higher concentration of tannins is drier than those with a lower count. This means the wine has a bitter taste and a more intense yet lingering finish. Tannins also contain antioxidants, which can help keep the flavor of the wine fresh and vibrant.

Sweet is the other end of the spectrum. When trying different types of reds, it’s important to picture the taste from very sweet to very dry. Most people find their zone somewhere between these two, but you can always try the extremes.

Whites: Acidic vs. Sweet

Although they’re a component of lighter white wines, tannins aren’t as important as they are in red varieties. The spectrum between sweet and tart is caused by how much acid is used in the production of white wine. This means that when it’s higher in acidity, the wine will have a more tart taste, while when it’s lower in acidity, it will have a more sweet one.

People often associate white wine with the same sweet-to-dry scale as red wine. While this is technically correct, “dry” refers to the wine’s acidity, not its tannin level.

Dessert Wine and Sparkling Wine

The term dessert wine refers to a wine typically made with alcohol. This type of wine is usually used to retain the natural sugars in its fermentation process. Another type of wine that’s commonly associated with this term is sparkling wine. This type of wine has a significant amount of carbonation, which can happen as a natural part or through the injection of carbon dioxide.