Pick a Wine…

Which Wine is Which?

wines 1That sea of labels or shelves full of bottles needn’t be as confusing as it seems. Here’s a simple “road map” to help you navigate the world of wine. For drinking with a meal or sipping anytime, we choose a red, white, or pink table wine.

To enjoy something with bubbles for a special celebration or with a special meal, we go for sparkling wines.

To sip after dinner, with a cigar, or while lounging in front of the fireplace, the beverage of choice is a dessert or fortified wine.

Table Wines : Red, White, or Pink

These wines are easy to identify – they’re color coded to make it simple. And while it may be a coincidence, most American wine drinkers work their way through the three “colors” in similar ways. Many of us start our wine experience with pink wines: you know, the white zinfandel (that’s not white but pink) that we see all over the grocery store. These wines (technically called blush wines), aren’t a bad place to start, because they’re usually delicately flavored, reminding you of fruits such as strawberries or raspberries, and a little bit sweet. They can be very pleasant to sip without food or accompanying light appetizers, and they can make nice summer picnic wines.

Once you’ve mastered the American white zinfandels and white merlot (a little less sweet than the zins), try a European blush wine. They have no sweetness at all, but still offer that nice berry flavor. There are enough names to confuse you – just look for anything pink from Spain or France and give it a try.

The next step along the wine road is usually to white wines. While the whites cover the waterfront from sweet to dry and light to full-bodied, you’ll probably want to start with the kind of sweet, easy-drinking varieties.

Whites With Some Sweetness:

The wine world’s best-kept secret is the Moscato grape. This white is made by leaving some of the grape’s natural sweetness in the wine, along with the rich, peachy fruit flavors. If you think all wines are “bitter,” this one will knock your socks off. You can find Moscato made in California (check out our store), but the best buys are from Italy. These also have a slight natural spritziness that make them very fun to drink.

The world’s most popular “not too dry” white is Riesling. The originals are from Germany, but you’ll find good ones now from almost all the world’s wine regions. The flavor of Riesling is more delicate than Moscato, and the fruit is more similar to green apples or pears. It’s a great accompaniment to many foods, and a favorite at family dinners. The American Riesling you’ll see in most stores comes from California and Oregon, and is usually semi-sweet and quite “soft” (not much acid on the finish). You’ll find a snappier style from Germany and Alsace (northern France). The higher acid levels give you a crisp finish to balance the sweetness. While Alsatian whites are usually dry (no perceived sweetness at all), the Germans give us a range of Rieslings from dry to quite sweet. Check the store for one to match your palate and budget.

Whites With No Sweetness:

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