Wine Appreciation Tips from United Cellars and Kitchen Warehouse

The head sommelier at United Cellars shares some of his knowledge about what goes into making a great bottle of wine. Kitchen Warehouse is proud to partner with United Cellars, connoisseurs of fine wine and specialists in Boutique, Rare and French Wine. United Cellars is an independently owned retailer whose mission is to help their customers to discover the flavours and tastes that make wine special and then choose wines for enjoyment and pleasure.

Why not join Kitchen Warehouse, United Cellars, Poach Pear and Fromage Artisan for A Taste of France this August, to imbibe, enjoy and be educated on French cooking, wine and cheese.

So how do you tell a good wine from a not so good one?

Sommeliers look for complexity or layered tastes and afternotes that surprise the taster. Consistency is also important – the wine will have the same taste and flavour bottle after bottle. The first rule in wine appreciation, though, is Drink What You Enjoy! The taste of the wine is pretty subjective so go with your taste buds first and foremost.

How is a good wine made?

The influences on the taste of the wine are called the Terrior. These are mainly climate, soil, grape variety and oaking. Here is a chart that outlines the influence each plays on the outcome of the wine.


Hot: Bold full bodied wines
Cooler: Light bodied with full fruit flavours


Sandy: High aromatics, pale colour, low tannin
Silt: Smooth, round wines with lower acidity
Clay: Full bodied wine with high extract and colour
Loam: Too fertile for wine production

Common Grape Varieties:

Reds: Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Whites: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

What is Oaking?

All wine used to be fermented and aged in oak barrels but these days winemakers have a lot more options. Wine can be fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged in oak barrels or fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and ‘oaked’ by adding oak chips or powder to the tank.
Oak impacts on the colour, structure, texture and flavour of the wine. Tannins from the oak add to the structure and the flavour with secondary characteristics like vanilla, butterscotch and smoke. Oak stabilizes the colour of red wine and allows white wines to develop structural complexity.

Why use Oak Barrels?

The porous nature of oak allows oxygen to interact with the wine, softening the wine texture. Oak barrels also allow hardly any evaporation so wine becomes more concentrated in flavour and improves in quality and quantity.

If you want to know more about wine or are after a specific bottle, United Cellars offer a wine advisory service to provide first-class customer service and a team of knowledgeable agents to help source fine wines from some of the best appellations around the world. For information on aging and storing wine, see the Kitchen Warehouse Wine Storage Guide or learn how to match your wine to your glass with our Glassware Guide.

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