Can you tell wine wisdom from a corky pie? Find out in the great grape quiz

Aidy Smith
·8-min read
  1. What is the proper term for a wine that doesn’t taste as it should?

    1. Corked

    2. TCA exposed

    3. Cooked

    4. Any of the above

  2. Which wine should be paired with steak?

    1. Red wine

    2. White wine

    3. Champagne

    4. All of the above could work

  3. The older the red wine, the better the taste. True or false?

    1. True

    2. No idea, I’ve never waited to find out

    3. False

    4. Until its use-by date, yes

  4. When a bottle has a big dimple at the bottom it means

    1. The wine is only made from one grape variety

    2. The wine is of superior quality

    3. The wine is from a warm climate

    4. None of the above

  5. Red wines are best served warm. True or false?

    1. True

    2. False

    3. True in the northern hemisphere

    4. True in the southern hemisphere

  6. Fresh dark red grapes at market place; Shutterstock ID 4819540; Name: Eva Horanszky; PO: N/A
    Fresh dark red grapes at market place; Shutterstock ID 4819540; Name: Eva Horanszky; PO: N/A

    Primitivo is the same grape variety as:

    1. Syrah

    2. Zinfandel

    3. Viognier

    4. Merlot

  7. Which kinds of wines can you decant?

    1. White

    2. Red

    3. Sparkling

    4. All of the above

  8. Screw caps are not as good as corks, right?

    1. True, corks are better

    2. Untrue, screw caps are superior

    3. False, neither is a mark of quality

    4. Bag wine is best, actually

  9. The “legs” on a wine glass are an indicator of …

    1. A fine wine

    2. Nothing

    3. Tannins

    4. Alcohol or sugar content

  10. A great trick to heat up your red wine quickly is to place it on a hot radiator. True or false?

    1. True, I like a toasty red

    2. True, but a microwave works better

    3. False

    4. Radiators? I’ve got underfloor heating

Solutions

1:D - It could indeed be any of the above. But they all mean something slightly different. Corked refers to the wine being affected by something called TCA (scientifically, this is 2,4,6-trichloroanisole). Your identifier for this is when the wine smells like an old soggy newspaper or someone’s mouldy basement. In the majority of cases, TCA is transferred to the wine via the cork. That cork, while part of a tree, would have become infected itself by fungi, mould or certain bacteria. If a wine smells like vinegar, nail varnish or apple cider, the chances are it has become oxidised. Somewhere along its journey, oxygen has seeped into the bottle causing a change in chemical compounds. Finally, cooked refers to a wine that has spent too long in a warm environment and has literally begun to cook itself, losing a lot of its taste and smell compounds, and becoming more like dull, over-stewed fruits. Culprits include radiators, being left out in the sun or next to the fire for too long., 2:D - It’s a common misconception that red is the perfect partner for meat and white for fish. Yes, big, bold tannin-y wines such as bordeaux, cabernet or malbec work well (the tannins soften the meat, and vice versa), but don’t stop there – some whites work just as well. Think oaky, buttery chardonnay, full-bodied chenin blanc or an aged white rioja, or even champagne – which is a perfect partner for salty, fatty foods. Ultimately, though, pairing is much more about personal taste than science – there really is no “should”., 3:C - All wines age differently and defining the quality of “taste” massively depends on what flavour you enjoy in a wine. There’s a misperception that leaving a wine to age will only make it taste better, but wines, much like people, have a life cycle. Some grape varieties really stand the test of time and stick around for 50+ years: think bordeaux blends; cabernet sauvignon from the Napa valley; tempranillo, the mainstay of rioja; or nebbiolo, which makes Italy’s prized barolo. Even with these, their flavour will change quite significantly as they get older. Taste is, of course, extremely subjective and what is delicious for one person may not be someone else’s cup of tea (or tipple). If you prefer bigger, bolder, richer fruits, drink a younger wine (two-10 years old); if more vegetal, earthy and savoury notes are your thing, go for one that’s older (20+ years) or buy wines to lay down so you can enjoy them in the years to come. Some wines are produced to be consumed right now – so don’t be tempted to hold on to them – while others can be left to rest well into the future. , 4:D - This one is pretty simple. The dimple size on the bottom of a bottle doesn’t really mean anything. Neither does bottle weight, if you’re wondering. , 5:B - We’re often told that we should drink red wines at “room temperature”, but depending where in the world you live, that can mean very different things. While the rule of thumb is 18C for a red wine, if you store a beautifully bold bottle of red at this temperature in Australia or Italy during the heart of summer, then pour it straight into the glass, the wine will be in the 20-25C zone within minutes, and you’ll lose the very components that make that vino so beautiful. In fact, many reds benefit from up to 15 minutes of fridge time before serving and, really, it all comes down to the whole “there are no shoulds” thing – try to experiment with drinking reds at different temperatures and see what works for you., 6:B - Primitivo and zinfandel are both clones of a grape variety called crljenak, which hails from Croatia. It was thought for years that zinfandel derived from California, but genetic testing revealed that it is an identical twin of the primitivo variety grown in Italy's Puglia region. Both wines may hail from the same grape (technically), but climate, geography and winemaking style, among others factors, give each its own unique flavour-personalities. With zinfandel, you can usually expect more alcohol and a velvety-smooth chocolate raspberry profile. Primitivo, on the other hand, gets so much sun it often offers ripe blackberry, violet and black pepper notes. The hardest part is choosing which one to drink ..., 7:D - Before we work out which wines you decan or decan’t, here’s why you de-might. Often wines are what we refer to as “tight” when first opened (their flavours are closed, like a clenched fist); Decanting can help add oxygen into the wine, which opens up the flavour and aroma. It’s not always necessary, but bigger, more aged reds can benefit from being decanted – and so can some whites and champagnes. Take an older vintage white wine, such as a white rioja or burgundy, for example, a little oxygen can really help it to open up and release its sumptuous aromas and flavours. While younger vintage champagnes with “reductive” styles (meaning the wine interacts with oxygen as little as possible during its creation) can start quite acidic, decanting them allows you to calm those aggressive bubbles and release the very best the drink has to offer. Hot tips: there’s no need for the fancy decanter, a clean jug works just as well. And when you are decanting wine, have a sip every 15 minutes to see how things are going. If you leave it too long, you risk ruining your wine. , 8:C - Oh, the long debate; but in reality – all wine closures have different purposes and different benefits. Screw caps have been used since the 1960s, so this is no new way of thinking. If your wine is to be consumed within a relatively short period of time (let’s say two years) then a screw cap is a great idea. Research has also shown that the wine is still able to age within the bottle anyway. Many leading Australian and New Zealand producers have long used screw caps on their top red and white wines. Corks do add a nice experiential touch – the ritual of slowly opening the bottle with that "pop" of a cork. To be honest though, as long as the wine inside is good, it doesn’t really matter., 9:D - Those delicate droplets running down the inside of your glass indicate nothing more than how alcoholic or sugary the wine is; the higher the level the more legs., 10:C - I know we said no "shoulds" – but if you're doing this you may want to stop. Wines are quite sensitive souls and if you place them next to direct heat they will often begin to “cook”. This may explain why, if you’ve done this before, your wine begins to taste like over-stewed fruits. Red wines can be served at a variety of temperatures, ranging from chilled to the optimal room temperature of about 18C, depending on wine style and your own personal preferences. But whatever you do, don’t cook your wine.

Scores

  1. 8 and above.

    Veritable vino pro! – you’ve conquered this wine quiz, something tells me this isn’t your first vino rodeo. Congratulations, now how to celebrate? Oh yes, wine.

  2. 4 and above.

    Grape-vine climber – well done, you’ve managed to get a decent amount right, so you should be proud of yourself. Now go celebrate by pouring a glass.

  3. 0 and above.

    Grape expectations – you may be at the beginning of your wine knowledge journey, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Just keep drinking what you enjoy and the know-how will come.

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