Wines are classified according to the grape varieties used to produce them. The term “terroir” is used to refer to the grape variety and characteristics of a vineyard or region, including the climate and soil composition. These factors can have a significant impact on the wine’s flavor profile. The dominant wine types are red wines and white wines. Each of these wine types has a number of popular varietals. Red Wines Red wines are fermented with the grape skins intact, which imparts both color and tannins to the wine. These tannins add the astringent, slightly bitter flavor that characterizes many red wines. Common grape varietals for red wines include: Cabernet Sauvignon: Produced all over the world, this wine is typically strong and full-bodied. Malbec: Grown widely in France, Argentina and Chile, Malbec is characterized by fruit and spice notes; however, its flavor profile varies by region. Merlot: Grown in France as well as elsewhere in Europe and North and South America, Merlot is less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon and often characterized by cherry and plum flavors. Pinot Noir: This grape produces a less tannic, more delicate red wine, and is grown in France, Austria, New Zealand and the American West. Sangiovese: Sangiovese is a medium-bodied Italian wine with fresh fruit notes. Sangiovese grapes are also used in the production of Chianti wine. Syrah (also called Shiraz): Produced in Australia, California and parts of France, this red wine is typically bold and spicy. Zinfandel: Grown in California, Zinfandel grapes are used to make a variety of wines from full-bodied, peppery red zinfandel to blush wine (white zinfandel). White Wines White wine is produced by fermenting grapes without their skins. This generally yields light, fresh, fruity flavors. White wine grape varietals include the following: Chardonnay: Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France, but is now grown around the world. It is often aged in oak barrels, which lends slightly tannic or vanilla flavor.
When pairing wine with Mediterranean dishes, knowing the basics of wine pairing and the common Mediterranean varieties will help to enhance your meal. The Basics of Wine Pairing The basic theory behind wine pairing is to select flavors that parallel one another. If you are eating strong, flavorful food, you’ll want a strong, flavorful wine to go with it. Alternatively, mild dishes are typically paired with subtle-flavored wines. Rich and savory beef dishes are typically paired with rich, flavorful red wines like cabernets and zinfandels. Creamy pasta dishes like those from Northern Italy benefit from a chardonnay or a sauvignon blanc. Acidic dishes like pasta marinara pair well with wines that are also high in acidity, like a dry riesling or a chianti. Intensely-acidic wines will overpower subtler dishes like fish or alfredo. Always try to match the acidity level of the wine to the acidity in your meal. Red wines contain natural tannins that serve as a palate cleansing astringent. With white wines, the acidity achieves the same effect. Palate cleansing wines are meant to rinse the mouth and prepare it to enjoy the next bite. Mediterranean Wines Italy and Greece produce some of the world’s best wines. Among the best known native Greek-grape varieties are xinomavro (acid black) and agiorgitiko (Saint George). Popular wines derived from these powerful grapes are Katogi-Strofilia Fresco Averoff Red and Harlaftis Nemea Red Wine. Quality Italian Reds are chiantis like Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico, and amarones like Righetti Amarone. Popular whites include Stella Pinot Grigio and Saracco Moscato d’Asti. Wine and Traditional Mediterranean Dishes To pair wine with Mediterranean cuisine, follow the wisdom of matching lighter fare with white wines or light reds, and heavier food with stronger red wines. Light salads like Caprese and Cypriot go well with moscatos, or lighter red wines like sangiovese and gamay. Blush wines like reisling and zinfandel are also appropriate choices as they pair well with popular balsamic and oil-based Mediterranean dressings. Dishes like lamb, beef or veal would go best with a heavy red wine, such as a pinot noir or a merlot. Lighter seafood dishes, such as grilled salmon and lemon over rice, are best accompanied by wine varieties like chardonnay and pinot grigio, which are lighter on the palette. If you prefer white wines over red, there are many Mediterranean seafood dishes that pair well with these.
Decisions about wine pairings can be made based on a number of food characteristics. The main protein and sauce can both provide viable comparison points for wine. Based on personal preference and different flavor matches, several wines can pair equally well with the same dish. Special considerations apply for certain wine and food types. Pairing: Main Ingredients Traditionally, pairings are often determined based on the protein in your dish. Classic white wine pairings include chicken and fish, while red wines are often paired with beef. However, these are only guidelines. For example, rich salmon can be successfully paired with a red wine with low tannin concentration, such as Pinot Noir. This type of pairing also accounts for the concept of pairing by weight. The protein in a dish is a significant determining factor in its overall “weight:” rich versus light, strong versus delicate. Pairing: Sauces and Spice Lighter proteins, such as chicken or fish, are apt to take on the flavors of sauces or spices. These accompaniments can create “flavor bridges” that connect the dish with certain wines and provide a harmonious or contrasting flavor profile. For example, a pasta or chicken with cream sauce could be mirrored by a rich Chardonnay, or contrasted by an acidic Sauvignon Blanc. Two wines may prove excellent pairs for the same dish for different reasons. The winning choice can be dictated by your perception of the primary element of a dish, or your personal preferences. Special Courses: Cheese, Appetizers and Dessert Generally, lighter and sparkling wines pair well with appetizer courses. Wine and cheese pairings can follow a basic rule of thumb: red wines pair well with hard cheeses, whereas white wines often pair well with soft. In addition, pungent cheeses like stilton pair well with sweet wines, like port. Dessert, however, can present challenges. Light fruit desserts can be matched with lightly sweet sparkling wines like Prosecco. Very sweet desserts, however, can make wine taste dull or bitter, and are often better paired with coffee than wine. Solo Artists: Stand-Alone Wines Some wines are best enjoyed alone; their flavor profiles are compromised when food pairings are introduced. Some complex, oaky (and very expensive) aged wines can be blunted when paired with food. Simpler wines are often a better match at meals, and display their fruit character more effectively. Similarly, dessert wines often function better as replacements than accompaniments, as sweet desserts can diminish their nuanced flavors.
Researchers have revealed that wine was most likely discovered between 4000 B.C. and 3000 B.C. in the Persian Gulf and Nile River area. Like many other human discoveries, the discovery of wine was most likely a happy accident. Early Egyptians may have drunk white wines that were stomped and fermented in vats. Today, white wines are enjoyed with food or alone just for their tastes. Why Wine is White Unlike many people believe, wine color is not determined by the color of the grapes used. The skins of grapes are added to the wine fermentation process to give red wines their color. White wines are clear because skins are not used when fermenting them. Types of White Wine Grapes: Varietals White wines can be made from many types of grapes. If a wine made in the United States, New Zealand, Australia or South America consists at least 75 percent of a given grape, the wine can be labeled with the grape”s name and is considered a varietal. In other words, a California Chardonnay can only be labeled “Chardonnay” if at least 75 percent of the juice comes from Chardonnay grapes. Most European white wine standards are a little stricter, requiring 85 percent of the type of varietal grape to be used. Below is a table of white wine varietals: Wine Grape Flavor Region Chardonnay Chardonnay Butter, apple, pineapple, smoke, orange France, California, Australia Chenin Blanc Chenin Blanc Honey, cantaloupe, grass France, California, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand
Celebrities who start their own vineyards and bottle signature wines are part of a growing trend in the world of wines. These celebrity wineries have been quite successful, sometimes because of the quality of the wines themselves and always because of the demand for products that bear the name of a well-loved star. Niebaum-Coppola Winery In 1975, film director, producer and screenwriter Francis Coppola was looking to buy a summer home where he might make a little wine. He came upon the Inglenook Winery in California, founded by Gustave Niebaum. Coppola was taken with the beauty of the estate and felt a connection to Niebaum because of their shared immigrant background, love of wine and success in their respective fields. Coppola decided to rebuild the estate and founded the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery. Prices of wine from the Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery range from around $7 to $13. Wine selections include: Blancaneaux Cabernet Franc Cask Cabernet Merlot RC Reserve Syrah. For a $25 guest fee, you can visit the estate. Your fee includes a wine tasting, a legacy historical tour and a chance to see the historic Chateau, Estate Wine Library and Centennial Museum. Jerry Garcia Sonoma Winery Musician Jerry Garcia may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten. He can be remembered not only for the music he made with the Grateful Dead but also for his fine wine. The Jerry Garcia Sonoma Winery was created to celebrate not only his music but also his artistic creations and his love of wine. All bottles of J. Garcia wines have labels that feature his unique and colorful artwork. Prices range from $12.95 to $16.95 per bottle. You can buy many types of J. Garcia wines, including: Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay Merlot Zinfandel. Greg Norman Wineries After traveling the world during his golfing career, Greg Norman decided to join forces with renowned winemakers from Beringer Blass and start the Greg Norman Estates Wineries in Australia and California. Prices range from $9 to $13 per bottle. Types of wine available include: red wines sparkling wines white wines. Ernie Els” Stellenbosch Winery Golfing and wine may well be perfect together. Another golfer, Ernie Els, along with longtime friend Jean Engelbrecht, established Engelbrecht Els Vineyards in 1999 and opened the cellar on Helderberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2004. Prices of wine from Engelbrecht Els Vineyards range from $28 per bottle to approximately $700 per case. Wines available include: Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec Merlot signature blends created by Ernie Els. Fleming Jenkins Vineyards and Winery Olympic ice skater Peggy Fleming knows her way around grapes as well as she knows her tricks on ice. Along with husband Greg Jenkins, she planted a small vineyard in California in 1999 and decided to start a winery. The winery offers a variety of wines, including: Cabernet Chardonnay Rose Syrah. Prices range from $20 to $50 per bottle. Because Peggy Fleming is a breast cancer survivor, a very special wine named Victories Rose was created at this winery […]
The Balkans refers to a region of Eastern Europe, although the definition of which countries should be counted among that group varies somewhat depending on whom you ask. The list of Balkan countries seems to always include: Albania Bosnia Croatia Herzegovina Montenegro Republic of Macedonia Republic of Serbia. Other countries sometimes included are: Bulgaria Greece Moldova Romania Slovenia the European part of Turkey. When it comes to the wines of the Balkans, however, all of those countries can be counted as part of this region. Wine in the Balkans The Balkans region produces some wonderful wines, especially along the Adriatic Sea. In some parts of the Balkans, wines have been produced for thousands of years. Unfortunately, this rich history was interrupted in the last century by two world wars, the fall of communism and the civil war, which led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. As you might imagine, all of that wreaked havoc on the vineyards. Even though the recent years of conflict have made it difficult for winemakers, this area is once again on the rise and more and more wines from the Balkans are entering the marketplace. Wines from the Balkans: The Former Yugoslavia The earthy, dark reds produced by this region have become the best known, with Zilvaka ranking as the most famous. Some wine critics describe Zilvaka as an acquired taste, but others greatly enjoy it. By contrast, the Brda region in Slovenia is a continuation of the famous Venetian wine region Friuli, and it produces some of the best Slovenian wines. Among them is Avia, which can be found in many major supermarkets among the lower-priced bottles of Merlot and Chardonnay. In fact, many wineries around the world actually use barrels made of slow-growth oaks from Slovenian forests to age their wine. Both Slovenia and Croatia have a cool, continental climate, which enables white wines to flourish. The vineyards in both of these countries take advantage of this fact to grow grapes that are popular worldwide, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. But they also produce some wonderful local white wines, such as Rizling, Malvasia and Grasevina, which all have the potential to become popular dessert wines. Croatia also has the advantage of the Dalmation coastline along the Adriatic Sea, where the Mediterranean climate allows red wine grapes to flourish, including Merlot and the traditional grape variety Plavac. Wines of Bulgaria and Romania Did you know that Romania is one of the great wine-consuming countries of the world? Some historians also name Bulgaria as the birthplace of winemaking. Two famous Bulgarian wines include Pamid and Gamza. Unfortunately Bulgaria has to export about 80 percent of its wines, including the well-liked Pamid and Gamza, due to its predominantly Muslim population. Wines of Hungary Hungary has remained faithful to its traditional winemaking methods rather than adopting the French method, as many other countries did. Perhaps this is what has made Tokay, a sweet wine made from grapes with noble rot, so popular. Ranked among Port […]
The central regions of Italy are responsible for the delectable Italian wine and food most recognized throughout the world. From rich cheeses and tomato sauce to excellent wine, central Italy is a mandatory stop for traveling food- and wine-lovers. Among the four geographic areas of wine-making (north, central, southern, the Islands), the central region is famous for many popular wines, including Chianti. The areas included in the central Italian wine region are: Abruzzi Emilia-Romagna Latium Marches Tuscany Umbria. Sangiovese is the main grape variety used for the central regions, as it produces an elegant and fruity wine. Abruzzi Known as a region of hearty but simple eaters, the wine of Abruzzi is simple and robust to match. The terrain of the Abruzzi region is favorable for growing grapes, and one popular wine is the affordable export Montepulciano d”Abruzzo. Molise, which was once a part of Abruzzi, boasts the Biferno, which comes in Rosso, Rosato and Bianco varieties, and the Pentro di Isernia, found in dry whites and reds. Emilia-Romagna As one of the richest regions in Italy, Emilia-Romagna enjoys fertile land and a prosperous wine industry. One of Emilias-Romagna”s most notable Italian sparkling wine is Lambrusco. Lambrusco is consumed within the year that it is made, and most often has a sweet taste. However, authentic versions are dry, and are the best match for the region”s cuisine. White wines from this region include Albana di Romagna, which is dry with an almond undertone, and Trebbiano di Romagna, which is light and fresh, in sparkling versions or otherwise. Latium (Lazio) Latium is the capital region of Italy and its white wines are the most famous, notably Montefiascone and Castelii (Frascati) white wine. The interestingly named Est! Est!! Est!!! is also native to Latium and is a highly celebrated white wine. Although white wine is the main focus of Latium wine production, the region”s red wines are beginning to gain attention; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are among the choice reds. The Marche (Le Marche) Red and white wine are equally produced in The Marche. Standouts include red wines Rosso Conero, Rosso Piceno and Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. If you like seafood, Le Marche is home to white wines that are perfect accompaniments, namely Verdicchio (di Jesi or di Matelica) and Bianchello del Metauro. Tuscany Chianti is the most well-known Italian wine from Tuscany. Chianti comes in both red and white. The Vernaccia di San Gimignano is probably the most well-known Tuscan white wine. The famous Vin Santo “Holy Wine” is also native to Tuscany. This dessert wine is made from Trebbiano grapes that have been left to dry until Holy Week. Umbria Wine production in Umbria is limited, but the wine itself is quite good. One excellent white is the Orvieto, which is made from a blend of for our five grape varieties. The “semi-sweet” version of Orvieto is called Abboccato. Notable reds are the Torgiano Rosso and Sagrantino di Montefalco, a local favorite.
Wine glasses, in their many shapes, not only add visual appeal, but they also serve an important function in enhancing the flavor of the wine. With so many varieties available, you can find wine glassware in nearly every style to accommodate any budget. While crystal wine glasses are at the higher end of the price spectrum for glassware, the material which the glass is made of is less important than the glass”s shape. In fact, some wine experts even state that the size of the bowl is crucial to the ultimate flavor, as the bowl size affects how the aroma rises above or sits on top of the liquid as you drink the wine. Wine Glasses: Different Types of Glasses The basic wine glass shape is similar to a tulip in bloom, meaning that wine glassware always has a wider base with a more narrowed, tapered top. However, aside from this basic structure, the size of the glass, as well as the degree to which the top is narrow, varies dramatically for wine glasses meant for different types of wine. Here is a breakdown of what types of glasses to use for each type of wine: Champagnes and sparkling white wines: Because this class of wine is bubbly by nature, champagnes and sparkling white wines are usually served in flutes (longer, thinner glasses that are not dramatically tapered). This glass shape allows the bubbles to flow up a longer length of the liquid, a pleasing sight to the eye. Similarly, because the glass is narrower, the gas of the bubbles can”t escape the liquid as fast as it would with a more open bowl. This preserves the carbonation. Dessert wines: The smallest wine glasses (those that are short and have short, small bowls) are ideal for serving sherry, port and other choice dessert wines. Because dessert wines are do potent and intense, they should be sipped and served in moderation. By pouring dessert wines into smaller glasses, you can be sure to not over serve them. Red wines: Glassware with larger bowls is the most appropriate for serving red wines. Younger wines are best in slightly smaller, more slender bowls with taller sides (these glasses are known as “chianti” glasses) to address the stronger tannins. Alternatively, more mature, full-bodied red wines should be served in glasses with larger, more open bowls to allow it to aerate and distribute the aroma. White wines: Serve light white wines in narrower, smaller glasses with a more elongated bowl so that the wine stays chilled longer. By keeping white wine at cooler temperatures, these more slender glasses enhance the flavor, whether it be fruity, woody or herby. While you can get specialty wine glasses from manufacturers around the world, those limited on budget and storage space may want to consider getting a set of all-purpose wine glasses, a type of glassware produced by many manufacturers. These all-purpose glasses are designed to be acceptable in most serving situations, regardless of whether you”re serving red or […]
The variety of wines available to enjoy is practically endless. Some of the major wine types available include: blush fruit/country non-alcoholic red sparkling white. A description of different types of wine begins with classification. Wines of all types can be classified by either the primary grape variety or the region where the grapes were grown. Wines classified by the type of grape they contain are called varietals and wines classified by the growing region are named for the region itself. Even within types of wine there is a great variety of flavor and texture, due to the climate of growing regions. A warm, wet year will produce grapes with a different flavor than a cooler, dryer growing season. This is why some labels and years are more valuable than others. Types of Red Wine Red wine comes from black grapes. The grapes are fermented whole, with the skin and pips intact. These wines can be light or sweet, refreshing or mellow. Here are some of the major types of red wine: Barbera: This grape is similar to Merlot, but not as well known. Barbera wines go well with many dishes, including those prepared with tomato sauce. Their taste is similar to black cherry and plum fruit, with a silky texture. Cabernet Sauvignon: Considered one of the world”s best varieties of grape, Cabernet Sauvignon is often paired with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is often served with red meat and has a full-bodied flavor. Merlot: Merlot wines are considered “easy to drink” and are a good introduction to red wines. They can be served with any type of food and have a rough, tannic flavor. Pinot Noir: These grapes are difficult to grow and are rarely blended with other varieties. They are often served with chicken, lamb and salmon. The taste of Pinot Noir wines is delicate and fresh, with a fruity aroma and earthy notes. Syrah or Shiraz: Syrah and Shiraz are both names for the same variety of grape. These red wines go well with beef, steak, stew and wild game. The taste is fruity with black pepper/roast meat overtones and gripping tannins. Zinfandel: Considered the world”s most versatile grape, Zinfandel is used to make wines from blushes to rich, heavy reds. Depending of the heaviness of a particular Zinfandel wine, it may be served with pasta in tomato sauce, pizza or meat. Zinfandel has a zesty berry and pepper flavor. Types of White Wine Since all grape juice starts out colorless, white wines can be made from white or black grapes. Flavors of white wines can range from very dry to sweet and golden. The five main types of white wine are: Chardonnay: This popular grape can be made into sparkling or still wine. It goes well with fish and chicken dishes. Chardonnay has a wide-bodied, velvety citrus flavor. When fermented in a new oak barrel, it has a buttery tone that can resemble coconut, toast, toffee or vanilla. Gewurztraminer: Wine made from this aromatic grape is often […]