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WINE VARIETALS

Cabernet Sauvignon

Is a red grape varietal that is planted all over the world. It makes a full-bodied red wine that’s dark in color, high in tannin, dry, and maintains good acidity. It is sometimes blended with other grapes like Merlot, most notably in Bordeaux France, and other times remains on its own, most notably in Napa, California. It can taste of cherries, black currant, smoke, tobacco, baking spices, green pepper, and graphite. It is usually oaked and therefore can also put out flavors of vanilla, cedar, and mocha. Cab is the world’s most popular red wine and can age for decades

Merlot

Can often be confused with Cab when tasted side by side. It is a full-bodied dark red wine that has softer tannins and more blue fruit notes than cab. It can also have notes of chocolate, plum, and baking spices. Its home is also Bordeaux where it is grown more than any other grape and is often blended with Cab and other varietie

Pinot Noir

Is a light bodied red wine that is dominated by red fruit and earth flavors. It is a dry wine that is mostly higher in acidity and lower in tannin. Its home is Burgundy France where is it grown with Chardonnay. These two are often grown together as they both enjoy a nice cool climate. It can taste of cherries, raspberries, mushrooms, potting soil, rose petal, and vanilla (oak).

Malbec

A full bodied and dark, often purple toned, red wine that now calls Argentina home. It tastes of black fruits, plums and blackberries, cocoa, and sweet tobacco. It is typically higher in alcohol and lower in tannin.

Sangiovese

Is Italy’s most planted red grape. It makes a medium to full bodied red wine that is dry and tends to be higher in acidity. Most famously grown in the Tuscan region of Chianti, Sangiovese can taste of red fruit, tomato leaf, clay pot, oregano, and leather. Sangiovese based wines include, Chianti, Super Tuscan (Toscana), and Brunello di Montalcino.

Syrah

Known as Shiraz in Australia, makes a full-bodied red wine that is dry and very dark in color. It can taste of black fruits, olive, clove, vanilla, mint, meat, tobacco, and smoke. Its Old World home is the Rhone Valley in France where it is often blended with Grenache. Its New World home is Australia where it tends to have higher acidity, higher alcohol, and fruitier flavors.

Zinfandel

Known as Primitivo in Italy, makes a full-bodied red wine that tends to be higher in alcohol and lower in acidity. It enjoys a warm climate and is most famously grown in California and Southern Italy. It tastes of black and red fruit, cinnamon, sweet tobacco, and spices. (This grape also makes the famous White Zin, which is a rosé of this red grape. Traditionally White Zin is inexpensive, massed produced, very sweet, and lower in alcohol.)

Rosé

Are those wines that are pink or blush in color. They are usually made using red grapes but can sometimes be a blend of red and white grapes, like in Champagne. To get that classic rosé color red grapes are pressed, and the juice is immediately poured off so that it takes very little color from the skins of the grapes. Rosé can range in aroma, taste, and sweetness as it can be made from a wide variety of grapes and in places all over the world. The famous home of Rosé is Provence in the south of France. Anytime you see Provence on the label you can expect a very light-colored rosé that is dry and shows flavors of berries, citrus, and flowers, and has good minerality

Sparkling Wine

Are wines that have been carbonated by either yeast or tanks of CO2. Champagne is an example of a sparkling wine made using the “Traditional Method”, where a small amount of yeast and sugar are added to the still wine before its capped. This yeast feasts on the sugar and creates bubbles. The yeast is later removed. Time spent on these yeast cells in the bottle is what gives some sparkling wine, like Champagne, that bready or toasty note. The less expensive way of producing sparkling wines are by pumping CO2 into the tank where the wine has fermented or into the bottle. Sparkling wines are made all over the world using a variety of grapes. Most often you will see Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, Champagne from France, and sparkling traditional style wines from the U.S.

Chardonnay

Is a white grape that is grown all over the world but calls Burgundy France home. It makes a medium to full bodied white wine that shows flavors of pineapple, yellow apple, along with butter and vanilla, if oaked. Most of the world ages Chardonnay for a time in oak barrels which gives it that big round buttery taste that has made California Chardonnay famous. Other places, like Chablis in France, traditionally do not use any oak in production so that the natural flavors of the grape (lime peel, quince, chalk, and white flowers) shine.

Sauvignon Blanc

Is a grape that finds its origins in the Loire Valley of France but has recently made a name for itself as a New World wine in New Zealand. It makes a white wine that is high in acid and throws aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lime peel, honeydew, and fresh cut grass right in your face. It is delicious on a hot summer day should be nicely chilled.

Riesling

An aromatic white wine that can have flavors of apple, stone fruit (peach), jasmine, and petrol. Its most famously produced in Germany but is grown all over the world. Unfortunately, many people believe all Riesling is far too sweet, when it is in fact not. There are tons of producers of dry and off-dry Riesling out there that are delicious. Much of the Riesling from the Finger Lakes in New York, Washington state, and Australia is dry, as well as many from Germany (you just have to know what to look for). Sweetness that is left in Riesling is left to help soften the high acidity in the wine. This high acid/sweetness combo make it a great wine to eat food with, especially dishes with a little spice.

Pinot Grigio & Pinot Gris

The same grape, Grigio being the Italian form and Gris being the French form. Grigio and Gris are often used interchangeably. It makes a dry white wine that is high in acidity and easy drinking. Pinot Grigio can taste of bitter almond, lime, lemon, pear, apple, and white peach. It should be served very cold and pairs perfectly with lighter fare like fish and salads.

Moscato

Is made from different varieties of the Muscat grape, mostly Muscat blanc. When hearing “Moscato”, most people think of the very sweet inexpensive bottles of Moscato that you can find at any grocery store or liquor store. There are dry versions made, but most Moscato you see will be this sweet type. Its also made into sparkling wine, most famously in Moscato d’Asti from Italy, which will also have some sweetness to it. Serve very cold with Asian food for a great night!