A little wine Education – wine 101

Whites Wines

Chenin Blanc is light white, lends itself to tastes of apples, pears, tropical fruits. It tends to be dry to semi-dry, and goes well with chicken, seafood, and fish.

Sauvignon Blanc has rather pronounced flavors of a herbal variety, with grassy and apple flavors, plus olive and a soft, smoky flavor. Can be anything from sweet to dry, but are typically very light. Sauvignon Blanc’s tend to be crisp and acidic, helping the wine cut through heavy food flavors. It pairs well with thick sauces and stews.

Chardonnay can taste semi-sweet or sour, heady or light. Typical flavors are apple, tangerine, lemon, lime, melon, and oak. Chardonnay is usually dry, and goes best with poultry or seafood or with a light red meat dish.

Pinot grigio wines are created in Italy. The Italian version is typically dry and light, with a mineral taste to it. Often, they finish with a lemony or citrusy flavor. French pinot grigio’s are more fruity and flowery than their Italian counterparts, though they still have that mineral aroma. Flavors can range from peach to grapefruit to melon. Pinot grigio pairs well with light dishes that are still on the “thick” side, like chicken in a rich white sauce, or vegetarian dishes with heavy spices.

Pinot Noir color can be any of a range of colors – from cherry red to puple-red and even brown as the wine ages. Typical flavors include earth, leather, vanilla (from the oak), and jam … the fruity flavors of the jam often taste like raspberry, strawberry, and plum. Pinot Noirs go well with pasta with red sauce, or lighter beef dishes. Also, any local game you might have, or even goose would do well.

Red Wines

Pinotage has a very distinctive flavor and often hard on a undeveloped palate. It is very fruity with an underlying taste frequently compared with banana. It can be drunk young, to maintain its fruity flavor. It also ages well, and the mellowing effect allows the wine to taste like a mature bordeaux. Pinotage pairs well with hearty stews and other rich dishes.

Shiraz and Syrah are both names for the same red wine grape. Shiraz is known for its spicy blackberry, plum, and peppery flavors. Often there are additional notes of licorice, bitter chocolate and mocha. Shiraz is even affected by growing temperature – warmer climates bring out the mellower flavors of plum, while cooler temperatures spice up the wine. Shiraz can be made in a fruity style, which many “sweet” wine drinkers enjoy. It can also be made in a dry style. Shiraz goes very well with beef and other hearty foods. It also goes well with Indian, Mexican, and other spicy foods. This wine is rich and full, and should be served from a large glass.

Cabernets can be mellow and mild, hearty and rich. It has a deep red color, with the primary taste being black currant. Other overtones can include blackberry and mint. Traditionally aged in oak, the wine also takes on an oaky, vanilla flavor. Higher quality cabs age extremely well (although a bit slowly), developing a sprinkling of five or six tastes within it. Cabernet goes well with beef, lamb and goose, especially when cooked with herbs. It also is a great match for brie, cheddar cheese and chocolate.

Merlot is not well suited for long aging, so until recently the wine made from merlot grapes was used solely as a blending wine. Not quite as harsh as other reds, merlot has less tannin than a Cabernet and can therefore be drunk earlier. It is mellow but still complex, a bit chewy. Merlot is known for the flavors of plums, black cherry, violets, and orange. It is a perfect match for beef and other medium-heavy dishes. Try some with a rich, red pasta dish, or even a heavy chicken dish. Merlot is also an excellent compliment to chocolate.


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