Many wine lovers like to say that “wine is alive,” in some very real senses, it’s true. When you harvest grapes and fruits, they’re still living. Also, the natural juices ferment through chemical activity of yeasts—living microorganisms—as they break down sugar from the fruit.
Even when we pour the “finished” product from barrel to bottle, wine is never truly finished. Flavors change with age and can be affected by environmental factors in the place you store bottled wine—like lighting, temperature, and humidity. And when you pop the cork and fill your glasses, exposure to air changes the wine’s chemistry yet again. To the beginner, this may all sound complicated. But, if you learn a few simple basics, you can enhance your enjoyment of wine without spending a lot of time learning all the details.
Here’s a brief guide to the essentials.