14 Charts That'll Help You Look Like A Bona Fide Wine Expert

A crash course in wine, in 14 charts.

We've heard wine experts toss around phrases like "oaky with a bit of a banana aroma" or "jammy," as if the rest of us could also distinguish those flavors. The film "Sideways" was filled with that type of annoying bravado as it followed two friends across California's wine country. "A little citrus, maybe some strawberry. Passion fruit, and there's just like the faintest soupçon of, like, asparagus, and there's a flutter of, like, a nutty Edam cheese," one of them said. And we rolled our eyes thinking, "Sure."

While there's a good argument against wine experts' tasting abilities, knowing something about wine is still one of the ways we prove to ourselves that, yes, we are classy adults. We know that Champagne might feel at home in a vintage coupe, but pinot noir is better off in a wider wine glass. And if we're serving veggies, a white wine might go along with them nicely. See? Fancy.

You, too, can brush up on your knowledge of vino -- here's a crash course in wine, as told by these 14 charts.

Where It All Begins

No, wine grapes are NOT the same grapes you eat as a snack. Wine grapes have thicker, chewier skin and juicier insides than your average red or green grape from the grocery store. And of course different types of wine grapes -- there are hundreds, each with their own preferred growing conditions and characteristics -- make different types of wine. Certain grape varieties contain more tannins, a natural preservative responsible for the bitter, puckering sensation in your mouth, known as astringency. Red wines tend to be more astringent than whites, and whether you like the sensation or not comes down to personal preference. Very tannic wines can make you feel sort of like you've just attempted the cinnamon challenge.

How It Becomes Alcohol

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(And, later, how it helps out other spirits)

How To Read The Label ... And The Bottle

How To Serve It Up Right

How To Taste It Like A Pro

How To Describe The Color

How To Describe The Flavor

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How To Enjoy It With Food

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(Yes, wine contains calories)

How All Those Bubbles Got In There

And Finally, How To Find A Wine You'll Really Like

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Before You Go

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