As you start drinking and learning about wine, it's good to, at some point, to start paying attention to the varietal and its general characteristics. This will help when you taste a winery's Cabernet Sauvignon and compare it to, say, its Zinfandel. Knowing the characteristic of a varietal will also help note differences between the grapes taste and body when compared across wineries, regions, or from a different country.
When looking for wine info, I often turn to the Wine Spectator, both for its broad reporting and its attention to basics. They have some introductory information on Varietal Characteristics, here are the ones starting with the letter B:
"BARBERA (Red) [bar-BEHR-uh] - Most successful in Italy's Piedmont region, where it makes such wines as Barbera d'Asti, Barbera di Monferato and Barbera di Alba. Its wines are characterized by a high level of acidity (meaning brightness and crispness), deep ruby color and full body, with low tannin levels; flavors are berrylike. However, plantings have declined sharply in the United States. A few wineries still produce it as a varietal wine, but those numbers too are dwindling. Its main attribute as a blending wine is its ability to maintain a naturally high acidity even in hot climates. The wine has more potential than is currently realized and may stage a modest comeback as Italian-style wines gain popularity."
"BRUNELLO (Red) [broo-NEHL-oh] - This strain of Sangiovese is the only grape permitted for Brunello di Montalcino, the rare, costly Tuscan red that at its best is loaded with luscious black and red fruits and chewy tannins."
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