Know your wine: A beginner’s guide to the most common types of wine

Taylor Tobin Aug 13, 2021, | Insider

  • The main types of wine include red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified and dessert wines.
  • Exploring new wines can help expand your palette and knowledge of drinks to pair with different dishes.
  • Grapes from all over the world give wines a range of flavours from fruity to oaky to dry.
Wine types vary and each style has a distinct taste that suits different people's preferences. d3sign/Getty Images
Wine types vary and each style has a distinct taste that suits different people’s preferences. d3sign/Getty Images

Humans have produced and enjoyed wine for over 8000 years, so it stands to reason that this grape-based beverage would be easy and stress-free to enjoy, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Wine education covers a great deal of information, from grape types to geographic regions to flavour profiles. While some drinkers love to geek out to the nuances and details of this subject, others can feel a bit overwhelmed when they walk into a wine shop.

While there’s no limit to the amount of information that you can learn, a few basic guidelines will help direct your shopping experience and allow you to get your hands on a bottle that suits your tastes and preferences.

As vast as the world of wine is, most wines can be classified into five main categories: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified and dessert wines. Below, you’ll find a rundown of these categories, with a breakdown of 28 popular variety types.

To offer some expert insight, we’ve enlisted sommelier and wine educator Caroline Conner of @winedinecaroline, who teaches online courses to wine lovers seeking to enhance their knowledge and broaden their wine-related horizons.

Why is it important to know about different types of wine?

“The best way to learn about wine is to approach it like learning a language,” says Conner. “You can DIY it, but without lots of real-life practice, it’s hard to get anywhere.” Knowing what you’re tasting and why can help you along your wine journey in a number of ways:

Developing your palate: You may have heard the term “palate” tossed around by wine drinkers in the past, but it really just refers to a sense of taste, which can be developed by simply tasting. The more flavours you experience, the more sophisticated your palate will become because you’ll understand how taste elements differ from each other and how they work together to create unforgettable flavours.

Discovering food and wine pairings: Wine and food are a natural match for each other, and when you figure out which wines taste best with which dishes (according to your own palate), then you can take your meals to the next level.

Gaining a global perspective on wine: As corny as it sounds, you really can “travel the world” by tasting wines from different countries, continents, and regions. Learning about the climate and soil conditions of a particular country can help you understand how the wines from that nation develop their flavours. Paying attention to common wine and food pairings from that country will clue you in on how best to enjoy the bottles you purchase.

How to talk about wine

Because flavours are so subjective, it’s easy to dismiss wine-tasting terms as pretentious and less-than-useful. However, understanding a few basic phrases can give you all the vocabulary you need to describe the wines you enjoy (and the ones that you don’t). To get you started, here are a few commonly-used wine words:

Dry: “Dry” essentially translates to “not sweet”. Dry wines don’t contain residual sugar from the fermentation process (or, if they do, it’s in a very low quantity).

Off-dry: An off-dry wine features a small amount of residual sugar, which gives it a gentle sweetness. The French term for off-dry, “demi-sec,” is also frequently used in wine tastings and on bottle labels.

Sweet: A sweet wine — also known as a dessert wine — contains significant amounts of residual sugar and has a pronounced sweetness in its flavour.

Oaky: Many red wines and certain white wines undergo a process of ageing in oak barrels, and said barrels impart a woodsy, toasty flavour to the wine. The more time the wine spends in the oak barrels, the stronger the “oaky” flavour will become.

Full-bodied: This is a term generally used to describe red wines, and it refers to both the flavour of the wine and to its texture. A full-bodied wine boasts rich, complex flavours, a robust texture that coats your mouth and tongue, and (in most cases) a higher alcohol content than a light-bodied or medium-bodied wine.

Tannins/Tannic: Tannins are natural compounds found in wine grapes (particularly in the skins of said grapes). These compounds affect the texture of the wine in the mouth; the drying sensation that you may experience when drinking a glass of red wine comes from tannins. Tannins exist in both white and red wines, but because red wines are produced and aged with the grape skins still in contact, the tannic structure of red wines tends to be more prominent.

Grape: The vast majority of wines produced worldwide use grapes as their core ingredient. Wine grapes differ from “table grapes” designed for eating; they’re typically smaller, juicier, and more acidic. Most wine grapes are of the Vitis vinifera species, a style of grape specifically cultivated for wine production.

Style: Some wines are named after the style of grape used to make them; “Chardonnay”, “Cabernet Sauvignon”, and “Pinot Noir” are all examples of grapes that often lend their names to their wines. However, some wines take their names from the regions where they’re produced. French wines are especially notable for this pattern: “Champagne”, “Bordeaux”, and “Burgundy” all fit into the “wines named after regions” theme.

Now that you know how to talk about it, let’s get into the wines themselves. Below are many of the most popular wine styles you’ll find in stores and at restaurants, along with a few underrated gems.

Red Wines


Cabernet Sauvignon is a very popular red wine, while a merlot offers a softer taste. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
Cabernet Sauvignon is a very popular red wine, while a merlot offers a softer taste. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Merlot is a red grape that’s grown throughout Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and the United States. According to Conner, “some of the greatest wines in the world” are Merlots. “It’s plummy and juicy, and a bit softer than Cabernet [Sauvignon], which it is often blended with,” she says. It tastes delicious alongside charcuterie boards, roasted vegetables, and even cheeseburgers.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon can grow in a wide variety of regions and is, therefore, an easy bottle to scoop up at any wine shop. As for flavour, Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied and dry. “Cabernet Sauvignon is ‘bigger’ than Merlot, and it has lots of tannins, which are those chewy, drying particles in reds,” says Conner. “It’s wildly popular and you can find stunning examples all over the world.”

Pinot Noir

“Pinot Noir is widely loved because it’s one of the rare lighter reds, but has tons of flavour and complexity,” says Conner. “It’s most famously from Burgundy, but there’s great Pinot all over the place, like in Oregon, New Zealand, and even Germany.” But she does warn that these wines can be fairly pricey: “Pinot is picky and fickle, it’s prone to disease and only thrives in certain climates. You have to be a good winemaker to make the best of it, in any conditions! That’s why it’s so prized, because when it’s good, it’s good, and the winemaker took these grapes from the right place, treated them right, and made them sing.”


Wines made with this red grape can claim two names, depending on where the grapes are grown and where the wines are produced. In the Rhȏne Valley region of France, these wines are called Syrah, but in Australia, they’re known as Shiraz. In both cases, you’ll find a rich, deeply-hued red wine with strong dark-berry notes and high tannins.


Like Syrah/Shiraz, the Zinfandel grape produces “big” red wines with lots of stage presence. Notes of dark fruit, tobacco, and leather are common when tasting Zinfandels. It’s a popular grape in California vineyards (and most Zinfandel is indeed grown in the Golden State), but you can also find it in Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand.


The Gamay grape is perhaps best known as the primary grape used to make Beaujolais. Made in France, Beaujolais wines are beloved for their light texture, high acidity, low tannins, and bright fruit flavours. Every November, the first release of Beaujolais bottles (known as “Beaujolais Nouveau”) makes a huge splash in the wine market both in the U.S. and abroad.


If you’ve ever enjoyed a glass of Chianti at an Italian restaurant, then you’ve experienced the Sangiovese grape. This purple-red grape produces many styles of wine made throughout Italy, all notable for their medium body, high tannins, red fruit flavours, and hints of spice. If you need a wine to pour at a red-sauce dinner, then Sangiovese will do you right.

White Wines


Some well-known white wines include Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Albariño. Mykhailo Lukashuk/Getty Images
Some well-known white wines include Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Albariño. Mykhailo Lukashuk/Getty Images

“Chardonnay is a true winemaker’s grape; it can really do it all,” says Conner. “A lot of people think they don’t like it because all they’ve tried is their mom’s oak-bomb, buttered-popcorn ’90s Chardonnay. This style still exists, but it’s not very trendy anymore, so it’s easy to find Chards with less oak, more fruit, and more balance. Try Chablis from France if you want to taste a spectacular unoaked Chardonnay.”

Sauvignon Blanc

This white grape famously makes lightweight wines with clean acidity and pronounced fruitiness. “Sauvignon Blanc is all about that fruit,” says Conner. “It has two main styles: the super-intense version with passion fruit aromas coming out of New Zealand, and the more restrained, grassy French style from Sancerre. There are great Sauvignon Blancs from Chile and the USA too.”


White grapes are typically easier to grow in cooler climates than red grapes, and Riesling, which originally hails from Germany, serves as a prime example. Riesling wine is highly versatile; it can be sweet, dry, still, sparkling, and anything in between. Its fruity, floral flavours tend to pair well with white meat, fish, and anything spicy.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

Known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Pinot Gris in France, this white grape makes a highly approachable and popular wine with citrus notes, zingy acidity, and a pleasant undercurrent of minerality. Alongside a platter of fresh seafood or a cheese plate, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris truly shines.


The Gewürztraminer grape is native to Germany, and wines made with it tend to feature fruit flavours like apricot and pear, along with herbaceous notes. In the US, Gewürztraminer proves especially popular at Thanksgiving, thanks to the fact that the wine’s gentle fruit and herbal aromas pair perfectly with turkey, stuffing, and all of the fixings.

Chenin Blanc

Commonly grown in the Loire Valley of France and in South Africa, the Chenin Blanc grape translates to a white wine that’s light-bodied, appealingly tart, and easy to pair with a variety of dishes. Try it with soft cow’s milk cheeses like brie or with grilled or roasted veggies.


If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but want a white wine with even more fruit presence, then Albariño, a wine style native to Spain, could be perfect for you. Albariño is a medium-bodied white, which means it works very well as a food wine. Pair it with shellfish, white meat, or an entrée salad.


Rosé wine is made by removing skins from red grapes. Dulin/Getty Images
Rosé wine is made by removing skins from red grapes. Dulin/Getty Images

Contrary to popular belief, most rosé wines aren’t made by combining white grape juice with red grape juice. Instead, they’re made by removing the skins from red grapes after a brief period of time, resulting in a wine that’s light, refreshing, and a pretty shade of pink.

Provençal Rosé

Some rosés are made with only one type of red grape, but many — like the mega-popular, super-refreshing pale-pink rosés that come from Provençe, France — come from a blend of grapes. Conner urges us to embrace blended wines like Provençal rosés: “I think that blends are underrated,” she says. “Many of the famous European wines are blends, and all the better for it! Blending is part of the art of winemaking, and especially with climate change disrupting vineyards, it will continue to be important in order to achieve balanced wines.”

Zinfandel Rosé

Zinfandel rosés got a bad rap for many years due to the perception of “White Zinfandel” as overly sweet and not especially nuanced. However, you can now find plenty of quality Zinfandel rosés on the market, and many feature a delicate sweetness that makes them a great partner for BBQ dishes or grilled salmon.

Grenache Rosé

Grenache is one of the grapes most commonly used in the Provençal rosé blend, but you can also find rosés made solely from this red grape. Grenache rosés burst with summery fruit flavours like strawberry and watermelon, and they’re delicious with Caprese salads, grilled eggplant, and Mediterranean fare.

Sangiovese Rosé

Italian “Rosato” wine often comes from the Sangiovese grape, which gives this varietal a darker hue than some competitors and makes it a robust and spicy wine with plenty of red fruit flavour. There’s no better partner for Sangiovese rosé than pizza (especially grilled pizza).

Tempranillo Rosé

Spanish Tempranillo (also grown in the US and South America) has an almost savoury quality to it, which gives this medium-bodied rosé an advantage where food friendliness is concerned. Enjoy it with anything from grilled meats to tacos to seafood to Spanish classics.

Sparkling Wines


Champagne isn't the only type of sparkling wine — there's also Crémant, prosecco, Cava, and Lambrusco. Yulia Naumenko/Getty Images
Champagne isn’t the only type of sparkling wine — there’s also Crémant, prosecco, cava, and Lambrusco. Yulia Naumenko/Getty Images

Some drinkers use “Champagne” as a catch-all term for “sparkling wine,” but the only wines that can truly claim the Champagne name must be produced in the Champagne region of France from grapes grown there. You can use white grapes to make a Champagne (called a “blanc des blancs”) or red grapes (a “blanc des noir”), but either way, you’ll end up with a phenomenal bottle packed with citrus notes, a bit of yeastiness, and a prominent fizz.


Not all sparkling wines produced in France fall into the Champagne category. If a wine is made using the same techniques as Champagne but isn’t from the Champagne region, then it’s known as a Crémant. Crémants boast many of the same flavour characteristics as Champagne, but they can often be purchased at a far lower price, making them one of the best bargains in the wine world.


These once-obscure sparkling wines of Venice now claim a major share in the wine market, and these Italian sparklers are bright, crisp, fresh, and very reasonably priced. Drink with a cheese and charcuterie board for a great start to a fun evening.


Cava, the sparkling wine most closely associated with Spain, uses the same production process as Champagne, but it’s made with a different range of grapes. The result is a dry and lively wine with a pleasant minerality — an almost flinty taste that comes from the soil where the grapes are grown. In fact, this minerality makes Cava a smart pairing choice for creamy dishes and sauces, since the wine has enough fortitude to cut through those weightier ingredients.


All of the sparklers listed above are whites — even the Champagnes that are made from red grapes. But you can also find sparkling reds, a great example of which is a Lambrusco. Lambrusco comes from Italy and is made from grapes of the same name. It can be either sweet or dry, but all versions have a relatively light body and a potent fizziness that makes it a whimsical choice for pizza or pasta night.

Fortified and dessert wines


Fortified and dessert wines include Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Moscato. Westend61/Getty Images
Fortified and dessert wines include Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Moscato. Westend61/Getty Images

One of the most popular sweet wines on the market, Port takes its name from its country of origin, Portugal. It’s a fortified wine, which means that it has a distilled spirit added to it, upping its alcohol content. Port comes in four different varieties: Ruby (a red Port), Tawny (a barrel-aged Port), White (a Port made with white grapes), and Rosé (a Port made the same way a typical rosé wine would be made). Bold cheeses, BBQ with a sweeter glaze, and, of course, desserts all pair beautifully with Port.


Like Port, Sherry qualifies as a fortified wine. It comes from the Andalusia region of Spain, and while all Sherry undergoes some level of ageing, darker versions (like Oloroso Sherry and Amontillado Sherry) spend more time in the barrel than lighter versions (like Fino Sherry). Sherry can be drier than other fortified wines, which gives it more food flexibility. It works just as well with an appetizer spread as it does with dessert.


Madeira, a fortified wine from a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa, bears many similarities to Port and Sherry. It often features nutty flavours and a hint of caramel, along with fruit notes like orange and peach.


A sweet Italian wine made from the Muscat Blanc grape, Moscato can be either still, sparkling, or semi-sparkling (with a lighter level of effervescence). The most popular Moscato, known as Moscato d’Asti, falls into the latter category. Moscato’s pronounced but not overwhelming sweetness lets it pair nicely with spicy dishes, savoury cheeses, and fruit-based desserts.

Insider’s takeaway

At the end of the day, a “good wine” is any wine that you enjoy. Spending serious bucks on high-end bottles isn’t necessary for a great tasting experience, but a bit of know-how will help simplify your shopping and will increase your chances of ending up with a wine that’s exactly what you want to drink.

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‘Champagne war’ sees France halt exports of bubbly to Russia

Theo Merz, Daily Telegraph UK | 5 July 2021
New Russian law orders French producers to label their champagne 'sparkling wine'. Photo / Getty Images
New Russian law orders French producers to label their champagne ‘sparkling wine’. Photo / Getty Images

Russian oligarchs are facing a shortage of champagne after French producers temporarily cut off supplies to the country over a new law that will force them to label their drinks as “sparkling wine”.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin signed off on legislation stating that only wine produced in Russia could be labelled as “champagne”, while foreign makers would have to rebrand their bubbly.

Neither the President nor Parliament explained why Russia needed such a law.

The “champagne” controlled designation of origin is governed by very strict rules in France, which state that the wine must originate from a small area in the Champagne region, be made with approved grape varieties and mature for a minimum of 15 months.

Moet Hennessy, which produces drinks such as Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot, told partners in Russia that it would have to halt distribution.

In a letter to local businesses, Moet Hennesy, part of the French luxury goods group LVMH, said stocks of its champagnes would therefore be at an “extremely low level”, exacerbated by a wider drop in imports over 2021.

Later, the company told Bloomberg that it would add a “sparkling wine” mention on the back label of their bottles, and resume deliveries once these changes were made.

Olga Sokolova, a sales director at Vinicom, which imports and distributes foreign wine in Russia, denounced the situation as absurd as she shared the letter from Moët Hennessy on social media.

“This seems like it’s fake, but it’s true,” she said. “From today, black is now white, and white is black.”

Others online were equally damning of the change in the law, with the exiled oligarch and Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky saying he thought “the whole champagne thing was a joke”.

Vineyards in the Champagne region of eastern France. Photo / AP
Vineyards in the Champagne region of eastern France. Photo / AP

Sergei Mironov, a restaurant owner, quipped that Moscow’s next step would be to ban Scots from using the word “whisky”.

Other experts questioned whether Russia had the legal jurisdiction to force foreign products to rebrand.

Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for the Study of Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets, told the business newspaper RBK that about half of the 330 million litres of still and sparkling wine imported to Russia every year could be affected.

The new law came as Putin signed a decree stating that the “Westernisation” of Russian culture was one of the primary security threats to the country.

Moscow banned the import of Western cheeses, meats and other food products in 2014, as a response to European and US sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

The ban motivated local producers to develop their own versions of European goods, such as “Russian parmesan”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree stating that the "Westernisation" of Russian culture is one of the primary security threats to the country. Photo / AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree stating that the “Westernisation” of Russian culture is one of the primary security threats to the country. Photo / AP

In the 1920s the USSR created a cheaply produced “Soviet Champagne” as a way of bringing luxury goods to the masses.

In recent years, a growing number of wine-makers have launched in southern Russia.

French media has dubbed the import spat the “champagne war” or the “bubble war”.

Champagne producers have long been extremely protective over their brands. Last week, French wine producers won a legal battle to prevent an ice cream from being called “champagne-flavoured”, according to a German court, after a long battle against the supermarket giant Aldi.

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Italian Winemakers See Red Over Lack of Emoji for Rosé’

Nick Squires 31/05/2021 | The Telegraph

Novelty stemware glass set includes four cute glasses that each feature one popular yellow smiling emoji.
Novelty stemware glass set includes four cute glasses that each feature one popular yellow smiling emoji.

As the UK summer approaches, the pink blush of rosé will become an increasingly prevalent sight in pubs, pavement cafes and on picnic blankets.

Rosé may have become hugely popular in recent years but in Italy, winemakers say that when it comes to social media, the eminently quaffable drop is woefully under-represented.

Winemakers say that when it comes to social media, rosé is woefully under-represented.

They are lobbying for a new emoji to put to an end the shameful “marginalisation” of rosé, pointing out that currently the symbols available on smartphones to denote wine are limited to a glass of red, two clinking Champagne flutes and a bottle of fizz; not a drop of the pink stuff in sight.

The Consortium for the Protection of Chiaretto di Bardolino, a popular rosé, has presented its case to the Unicode Consortium, the US-based non-profit organisation that oversees the process of choosing and creating emojis.

The Italians argue that the absence of a symbol representing a glass of rosé is discriminatory to their fragrant plonk.

“If you write to a friend about having a glass of wine on Whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook, you get representations of a glass of red, two flutes of Champagne or a bottle of spumante, but a rosé wine symbol is totally missing,” said Franco Cristoforetti, the president of the consortium.

“This is a legacy of the marginalisation that the world of rosé has suffered for decades and which it continues to have to deal with, notwithstanding the phenomenal global growth in sales of recent years.”

In the United States in particular there has been “astronomical” growth, he said, with 10 million bottles sold annually.

Rosé producers have teamed up with a graphic design agency in the northern city of Verona to come up with what they called the “pink wine” emoji – two glasses of rosé being chinked together in a toast.

They also plan to launch a petition in June, gathering signatures in support of the appeal.

Based in California’s Silicon Valley, the Unicode Consortium is the body that decides which new emojis should be adopted.

Individuals and companies can suggest new emojis to the organisation, where a panel of experts considers them.

“Anyone can propose an emoji character, but they have to make a solid case for it,” Mark Davis, the president and co-founder of the Unicode Consortium, told the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s more than just saying, ‘Well, I think there should be a drunken chipmunk emoji.’

“You have to give us some good reasons that would establish why it would be a successful and valuable addition.”

The consortium considers whether a proposal might “flesh out” an existing set of emojis, meaning that the addition of the rosé symbol to the canon of booze-related pictograms may be in with a chance.

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We Asked 12 Sommeliers: What’s One Trend in Wine You Wish Would Catch On?

Words: Ashlie Hughes & illustration: Gerry Selian | November 11, 2020, VinePair

llustration: Gerry Selian
illustration: Gerry Selian

Some drinking fads come and go, while others, such as rosé and the once-obscure but now ubiquitous orange wine, are here to stay. With the uncertainty that 2020 has unleashed on the beverage industry, accurately predicting the next wine craze is a daunting task.

To discover which trends could soon be in vogue, VinePair polled industry pros to find the wines and industry practices that they hope will soon gain traction. From an innovative American wine region to grape varieties and winemaking styles that deserve more attention, here are 12 trends that might be coming to a wine store or restaurant nearby.

Wine Trends Sommeliers Wish Would Catch On

  • Marsalas
  • Piquettes
  • Screw caps
  • Champagne
  • Trusting your instincts
  • Grosses Gewächs Dry Rieslings
  • Coffee shop wine bars
  • Selfie-less wine
  • North American hybrid grapes
  • Labels with technical data
  • Transparency
  • Rieslings

Keep reading for details about all the recommended trends to watch!

“I like seeing the youngsters drinking their red wines chilled — cold, even. I am [also] happy to see red sparklings gaining a little shelf and cooler space. The thing I have been pushing for the last two years is great Marsala as an indulgence, or a luxury item, instead of a common kitchen ingredient. Marsala belongs in a glass, not on a plate.” —Jeremy Allen, Beverage Director, Little Dom’s & MiniBar Hollywood, Los Angeles

“The making of Piquette. It’s a light, easy-drinking, low-ABV, slightly fizzy wine product made from the grape pomace macerated in water, and traditionally something served to vineyard workers during harvest.” —Damien del Rio, Owner, Sauced, Brooklyn

“I would like [to see] more screw caps and less cork. The sustainability of [the] screw cap is the way to go!” —Lenya Wilson, Level 2 WSET Sommelier, The Glenmark, Glendale, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Glendale, Calif.

“Drinking Champagne and sparkling wine for no reason at all.” —Rob Wecker, Master Sommelier and Owner, Bushel and a Peck Kitchen & Bar, Clarksville, Md.

“I wish people would learn to trust people — and their own palates — more than numbers or scores. Trust your instincts about what you like, rather than drinking what someone else thinks you should be drinking. … If you’re really interested in learning about all of the different wines and flavours that are out there, try to pick up at least one new bottle every time you shop for wine. Talk to the people who work at your wine store of choice, whether that’s the grocery store or your local wine shop. Tell them what you usually drink, and ask them to suggest something similar, but different, so you can try something new.” —Shawn Paul, Wine Operations Director, Foxcroft Wine Co., Charlotte, N.C. and Greenville, S.C.

“If there was one trend I wish would catch on, it’s using Grosses Gewächs (great growths) dry Rieslings on wine lists. These are super complex, pair with a range of foods, and, in my opinion, are better pairing wines than white Burgundies.” —Patrick Reno, Beverage Director, Luthun, NYC

“I noticed some new stores combining coffee shops and wine bars. I think those are perfect matches for mornings [that] then roll into a wine bar in the p.m. Both beverages [can be] enjoyed in that setting, doing some work or hanging with friends over some small plates. I think that setup makes wine bars more profitable and helps people learn, with the ability for service teams to talk to their guests. —Luke Kennedy, General Manager, Proper 21K, Washington, D.C.

“Drinking wine without posting a picture of the bottle. If three people drink a bottle of Clos Rougeard together, but no one posts a picture on Instagram, does it still count?” —Jordon Sipperley, Wine Director, Tidbits by Dialogue, Santa Monica, Calif.

“We are seeing a new generation of winemakers in New England experimenting with North American hybrid grapes (such as Frontenac Noir, Marquette, Brianna) — as [opposed] to the vitis vinifera grapes that we all know and love. Female winemaker Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista is a pioneering example of this.” —Kylie Monagan, Partner/Wine Director, Civetta Hospitality (Amali, Calissa, Bar Marseille), NYC and Water Mill, N.Y.

“More technical data detailed on the label. [I] love it when wineries provide information regarding the composition, oak regimen, vineyards, and name of winemaker, grape growers and/or cellar master.” —Scott Lester, Wine Director, Fellow, Los Angeles

“Transparency! By which I mean, simply, putting the ingredients of your wine on the label. It’s such a strange thing that the FDA requires nutritional labels for all packaged food, yet someone can make wine, manipulate it with all sorts of additives and chemicals, and call it Cabernet Sauvignon without listing what they actually put into it. A few wineries in Oregon have started listing their ingredients on the label as a movement to show that they only used organic grapes, for example, or perhaps they had to dilute with water, so the water becomes an ingredient. This is a movement about awareness. I think it is a long road to get people on track to really care, but if the wine industry were required to label all ingredients, that might change.” —Austin Bridges, Wine Director, Nostrana, Portland, Ore.

“I wish more people would be open to trying Rieslings. Many sommeliers and wine experts appreciate the qualities of a Riesling because it is such a unique and versatile wine that pairs with virtually any kind of food. … Rieslings offer a fresh new bouquet of flavour to the palate and are really quite, unlike any other wines. If you are ‘anti-sweetness,’ which is often associated with so many German Rieslings, stick with dry Rieslings from many New World countries or from Alsace. You will still get the flavour profile but much less sweetness — although sometimes the sweetness really helps when cooling down spicy foods.” —Piero Procida, Food & Beverage Director, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Calif.

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The Perfect Wine Pairing for Every Classic BBQ Dish

Betty Gold Updated June 29, 2020 | RealSimple

To get the scoop on the best way to bring your barbecue fare to life with wine
To get the scoop on the best way to bring your barbecue fare to life with wine

Picking wines that complement all of the tangy, salty, and sweet flavours of our favourite grilled foods can be a challenge. So many different types of palates to please! But before you throw in the towel and settle for a case of Bud Light and a few bottles of pinot grigio, we’re here to eliminate all of that intimidation. Seriously, you’ll be pairing burgers with Beaujolais like a sommelier just in time for the Fourth.

To get the scoop on the best way to bring your barbecue fare to life with wine, we consulted the experts at Vivino, the world’s largest online wine marketplace. Their vino pros helped us round up these recommendations for the top varietals for every type of grill fare. Whether you’re cooking pulled pork or tofu, we have something here that’ll sizzle harmoniously.

Hamburgers + Beaujolais

How to make the perfect burger. The Gentleman's Journal
How to make the perfect burger. The Gentleman’s Journal

Burgers are summer grilling staples, so it’s only fitting that they pair with the number one summer barbecue wine: Beaujolais. Light, fresh, and fun, Beaujolais is extremely food-friendly. Expect peppy red cherry and strawberry flavors with a touch of earthy undertones.

Hot Dogs + Rosé

Pedernales Cellars Viognier and Rosé are perfect with hot dogs
Pedernales Cellars Viognier and Rosé are perfect with hot dogs

The toppings make the hot dog, so the key is to find a wine versatile enough to pair with anything you can eat on a dog. It’s hard to go wrong with a dry rosé, but look for one with some character to it: minerality, acidity, or unique, savoury flavours.

Grilled Corn + Chardonnay

Sweet, salty, buttery grilled corn needs a wine that will accent—but not overwhelm—its flavours, which is why Chardonnay aged in steel or old oak is a natural match. Most unoaked Chardonnays still go through malolactic fermentation, which creates a creamy, buttery texture without oaky flavours of vanilla and baking spice (that would overwhelm the corn).

Grilled Seafood + Sicilian White

Rinazzu Etna Rosso Selezione Speciale
Rinazzu Etna Rosso Selezione Speciale

Embrace the essence of grilled seafood with a salty, zesty Sicilian white. Sicilian white wines, particularly those grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, have distinct volcanic minerality, lemon acidity, and a touch of salinity, which makes for an ocean-reminiscent flavour.

Grilled Tofu + Champagne

Vegetarians need barbecue options too, and creatively prepared tofu can be an excellent substitute for otherwise meat-heavy festivities. The bubbles in Champagne provide a nice contrast to the texture of tofu, while tart citrus flavours and focused acidity make it perfect for pairing with almost any flavour profile.

Pork Chops + Pinot Noir

Wine Pairings With Pork by Cut and Cuisine. LoveToKnow
Best Wine Pairings With Pork by Cut and Cuisine. LoveToKnow

Pork chops pair well with both red and white wine, but with a dry rub on the grill, red wine has the edge. Medium-bodied Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon has a little bit of everything that pork chops call for, flavour-wise, melding lush New World cherry cola-esque fruit with Old World earthiness.

North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork + Riesling

For a wine to stand up to North Carolina-style pulled pork’s vinegar-based sauce, two things are crucial: sugar and acid. Off-dry Riesling is the answer, with mouthwatering acidity and just a touch of residual sugar to keep the wine from seeming too austere.

Memphis-Style Pulled Pork + Zinfandel

Slightly sweeter than the North Carolina-style, smoky, spiced Memphis-style pulled pork calls for a wine with juicy, round fruit, like a classic California Zinfandel. While Zinfandel can be overly jammy and high-alcohol, the best examples balance body with acidity, allowing fresh red and blackberry fruit to burst onto the palate and complement the pork.

Ribs + Syrah

The full bodied intensity of Shiraz pairs well with fatty grilled meats like pork ribs, beef short rib, and sausages of all kinds. Joie de Vivre
The full-bodied intensity of Shiraz pairs well with fatty grilled meats like pork ribs, beef short rib, and sausages of all kinds. Joie de Vivre

For a knock-out baby back rib pairing, embrace the flavours that make ribs so good with a wine that carries them. Full of smoke, meat, and black peppery goodness, Syrah from the northern Rhône is right on the money—as if someone took the smoked ribs themselves and put them into the wine.

Steak + Cabernet Sauvignon

Matching steak and Napa Cab is a no-brainer, but to take the pairing to a new level, look up the mountain. Vineyards situated within the mountain ranges that form the Napa Valley—such as Spring Mountain District or Chiles Valley—have the added benefit of elevation, creating a more restrained and elegant style of wine.

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History in the bubbles

History in the bubbles: 105 and still loving her bubbly| Joelle Thomson – 16/12/19

(This item is something of a prelude to our proposed June tasting. It relates to Dawn Ibbotson who is the matriarch of the Ibbotson family who operates Saint Clair)

NB. It was with some sadness that I noted that Dawn passed away on 10 Jan after I had copied this item. Still, 105 is a great knock and enjoying a nice wine right up to the end can’t have been bad. Rest in Peace Dawn.
NB. It was with some sadness that I noted that Dawn passed away on 10 Jan after I had copied this item. Still, 105 is a great knock and enjoying a nice wine right up to the end can’t have been bad. Rest in Peace Dawn.

This month marks the 105th birthday of the woman who inspired one of New Zealand’s best bubblies made using the French traditional method, the same way that champagne is created.

The woman and the wine are called Dawn. The first vintage of Dawn was made from the 2012 vintage to mark its namesake’s 100th birthday in December 2014. Now, Dawn Ibbotson has turned 105 and her family says she enjoys a daily glass of the bubbly they made in her honour.

It’s a top bubbly in taste too, as our instore experts pick it as one of their favourites, year-round.

The wine is made from hand-harvested, whole bunch pressed grapes, which were fermented in a combination of stainless steel (the Chardonnay) and seasoned French oak barriques (the Pinot Noir). The two still wine components were then blended and bottle-fermented for three months to allow the carbon dioxide from the second fermentation to dissolve into the wine, creating its fine bubbles. It was then left on tirage (lees) for thirty-nine months until disgorgement.

Story of the name Saint Clair…bubb

The Ibbotson family who founded Saint Clair Winery named it after the original landowners of their Marlborough vineyards, the Sinclair family. Saint Clair is also the name of a suburb in Dunedin, hometown to the Ibbotson’s and to Dawn.

Dawn is made from…

Vines are grown on stone and sandy alluvial soils on Rapaura Road, Marlborough; overlooked by Saint Clair Vineyard Kitchen. It contains 6 grams of residual sugar per litre; off-dry, but only just, in other words. This wine tastes dry from the first sip to the last, lingering sparkling drop.

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It’s Official: French Fries Pair Best with Champagne

Moët & Chandon calls the salty, crunchy snack one of the best things to eat with bubbly, and our wine editor agrees.

Mike Pomranz | April 19, 2018

Everyone likes Champagne—if only because it’s the quintessential, upmarket celebratory drink. But for that exact reason, some people can be unsure when to drink Champagne. Weddings, graduations and holidays are obvious choices. And if you’re Biggie Smalls, when you’re thirsty also qualifies. But is ordering Champagne during an otherwise ordinary meal posh or just pretentious?

For bigtime Champagne producers like Moët & Chandon, this question is about more than just image: moving more Champagne boosts their bottom line. So clearly, it behooves the brand to remind drinkers that you don’t need to wait until your golden anniversary to pop a bottle of Brut. Along those lines, Marie-Christine Osselin, Moët & Chandon’s wine quality and communication manager, recently told The Drinks Business that one of the best possible pairings for bubbly is one of the most common sides on the planet: French fries.

According to Osselin, Champagne’s acidity and bubbles make for an excellent complement to fries saltiness and crunch. In fact, regardless of whether the cuisine is low-brow or high-brow, Osselin insisted that simplicity is the key. “Champagne is a wine that asks for simple ingredients, no more than three,” she was quoted as saying.

Of course, it’s easy to be skeptical: If you were trying to move $50 bottles of wine, you’d probably say they pair well with every food under the sun. But Food & Wine wine editor/guru Ray Isle actually completely agrees with Osselin’s assertion. “I’ve been saying this for years, as have many, many sommeliers,” he explained.

“Basically, salt and fat plus high acid and bubbles equals a great combo,” Isle continued, giving Champagne and French fries the mathematical treatment. “Fries, potato chips—hell—fried pork rinds would work too. But I don’t think you’re going to get the folks at Moët to suggest pairing their champagne with fried pork rinds—that’s too down-home for them, for sure.”

Moët won’t say it, but apparently we will. Grab your Champagne and pork rinds! Is it college football season yet?!

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Macvine International – Nov 2015

An interesting evening hosted by Michael Jemison, Macvine International. Michael displayed a good style while giving a good level of information during the presentation. However, the turnout at 32 was a little disappointing. Some great discounts offered for those who purchased.

The wines offered included; Ca Di Rajo 2013 Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry; Yerring Station Yarrabank Cuvee 2010; Andre Delorme Terroir d’Exception Blanc de blanc NV; Kerpen 2013 Riesling Kabinett; Dumangin Brut le Rose Premium Cru NV; Dumangin Premier Cru Vintage Champagne 2003, and all rounded off with a Clark Estate Noble Pinot Gris 2011.

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Tasting review – A MacVine Christmas

Tasting review

2015-06-17-5580e272d2fbcOur presenter Michael Jemison, Managing Director for MacVine, was a man who enjoyed telling great stories about his travels through the houses of champagne, particularly Michael’s favorite, Champagne Dumangin, whom de gorge the champagne on order, not in bulk.

Michael is well rehearsed in the art of conversation and spoke about each wine passionately and with great enthusiasm.

The Prosecco was Extra Dry meaning not sweet. Ah, Italians and their use of English, just love it. Being a vintage wine, 2013, I was expecting more.

The Yerring Station Yarrabank Cuvee was beautifully made – simple and elegantly made with friends from Champagne Devaux – 15/20.

From Burgundy, the Andre Delorme Terroir d’Exception Blanc de Blanc was bottle fermented in the champagne style with lovely yeasty extract and a gentle sweetness giving way to slight acidic undertone, very refreshing. Right up there with our methode champenoise – 16/20.

The 2013 Kerpen Riesling Kabinett has a hint of flinty minerality and earthiness on the nose. The initial hit of sweetness while not overpowering gave way to soft acidity which balanced well with food. For me, this wine was the star of the show – 18/20.

Dumangin Rosé and 2003 champagnes were both subtle in flavour with beautiful nose characters of yeast, apricot and lemon rind. A short finish left me expecting more – 16/20.

The wines overall were of quality befitting any Christmas lunch but several I’d want to keep to myself and drink in a quiet space to savor their complexities. If you do see any of these on wine lists, worth a try.

Cheers, Steve

Tasting – A MacVine Christmas

7:45 – 9:45 pm


Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, 30 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 –Directions

Cost: Members $20, Guests $25

Presenter: Michael Jemison, Managing Director

Background: Established in 1999, Macvine International is an importer and distributor of top quality, specialist wine from New Zealand and around the world. We also import and distribute Spiegelau glassware – one of the world’s top specialist producers of glassware designed for wine lovers. Wines for tasting:

  • 2013  Italian Prosecco – Ca Di Rajo Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry – Actually bottle fermented and from the best region in Prosecco. It’s an off-dry style even though its say extra dry which in Italian mean off dry.
  • Australian bubbly – Yerring Station Yarrabank Cuvee – Made with the help of a French Champagne house so offers a point of difference quite smart.
  • French bubbly – Andre Delorme Terroir d’Exception Blanc de Blanc NV – From Burgundy hand is made the same way as Champagne last year would best sparkling wine in Cuisine Magazine.
  • 2013 Kerpen Riesling Kabinett – Low alcohol which good fruit weight to refresh the palate
  • Champagne – Dumangin Brut Le Rosé Premium Cru NV – Exceptional bubbles
  • 2003 Dumangin Premier Cru Vintage Champagne – 95 points Bob Campbell this is rich like Christmas cake and complex.
  • Sticky – 2011 Noble Pinot Gris 375ml
Click image for more in the gallery

What a great selection and Macvine will be offering some very healthy discounts if you want something special for Christmas. Don’t miss this one.

Nov bubbles and Dec dinner

We’re getting ready for a busy season with Nov bubbles and Dec dinner.

To show your support, please complete the payment advice form and either pay online or bring the form and payment with you when you come to the November tasting.

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In the News – Dec 2014 Emirates invests in NZ wines

Cabin crew member and New Zealander Troy Whittle in the Business Class lounge bar aboard an Emirates A380 flight into Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker

Emirates has unveiled details of its more than half a billion dollar “liquor investment” programme.

The airline says that on any given day, more than 60 different wines, champagnes and ports, sourced from vineyards in 11 countries, including New Zealand, are served onboard Emirates to passengers throughout their planes.

It has more than 1.2 million bottles aging in its own cellar in Burgundy, France, some only ready for drinking in a decade or more.

Champagne is the most popular drink in first and business class and by volume 51.5 per cent of Champagne aboard is drunk in the economy section.

New Zealand wines served inflight with Emirates over the past two years include; Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, Yacht Club sauvignon blanc, Metis sauvignon blanc, Amisfield sauvignon blanc, Spy Valley sauvignon blanc, Isabel Estate sauvignon blanc, Felton Road pinot noir, Rippon pinot noir, Craggy Range pinot noir, Peregrine pinot gris, Mills Reef Gimblett Gravels Reserve syrah.

New Zealand wines have featured in first, business and economy class on Emirates flights.

Emirates, which flies four times daily from New Zealand to Dubai and beyond via Australia, has a dynamic strategy of buying wines, and an intensive programme to secure the best vintages for future consumption by buying “en primeur” often before the wines are bottled and released to the market.

The airline’s experts hand pick and secure the wines served onboard.

President Emirates Airline Sir Tim Clark said that over a decade ago the airline moved away from the usual corporate procurement process and decided to take control of its own destiny.

“We could have taken the easy way out – just do the maths for how many bottles we’d need in each cabin class over a year, then put it up for tender. But with the scale of our operations, this would limit our choices as not many producers can offer the quantities we’d need, at the quality standards that we’d want.”

The airline has spent more than US$500 million on wine and spirits to date.

“Sure, it is a big investment. But wine and champagne will always be an important aspect of our onboard product therefore we take a long term view. It is simply part of our rigorous planning process.”

Besides wines, the airline serves 43 different spirits and 12 different cocktails.

The 30-year-old airline is one of the biggest in the world and has the largest fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft.

NZ Herald, Thursday Dec 4, 2014 – Grant Bradley – Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald.

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Looking Back – Nov 2014 – Advintage

While numbers were a bit low for this tasting it was never the less a very enjoyable evening.

A supper was arranged for the evening and it was thought that this went well and had a good balance of items with the shortbread with champagne concept working well. The presentation had a good balance between John and Mac with lovely wines presented.

While this was a good evening for those who attended, the committee is conscious that the venue and types of wines presented may be possible causes for the lower than expected turnout. We will be seeking feedback from members about suggested formats for the festive evening at the next AGM – asking what do the club want e.g. higher priced wine versus more affordable wines.

Also we have used Advintage for three years now and it might be time for a change. We will be looking at alternative options for presenters, albeit we have had excellent support from Mac and Advintage.

To recap on the wines, they included:

Bubbles/Champagne; Bubbles by Lobetia, Squawking Magpie SQM Blanc de Blanc Brut, Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV, and Roederer Vintage 2006/07.
Rose; Aronui Single Vineyard Pinot Rose 2014, and Rockburn Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir Rose
Sweet wines; Buller Fine Old Muscat, Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado

See the Blush, bubbles & stickies – Nov 2014 tasting review.

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Blush, bubbles & stickies – Nov 2014

advintage-logo-headerDate: Wednesday 12 November 2014

Time: 7:45 – 9:45 pm

Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, 30 Moorefield Rd, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 – Directions.

Cost: Members $18 Guests $18

Presenter: Mac (John) Macpherson of Advintage ably supported by John Kemble

An extended supper was provided with wines presented on the night to including:

2014 Aronui Single Vineyard Pinot Rose
2014 Rockburn Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir Rosé

Bubbles & champagne
Bubbles by Lobetia
Squawking Magpie SQM Blanc de Blanc Brut
Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV
Roederer Vintage 2007

Sweet wines – very cool, different  options, exciting flavours
Buller Fine Old Muscat
Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado

The club would very much like to thank Advintage for their regular participation and generosity at our November tastings over recent years. We would love it if members were able to place orders to make it worthwhile for Mac to make this annual trip to Wellington.

Tasting review

Click image to view more images in the gallery.

Mac and JK’s roadshow was even better than the last two years. The tasting started with a quaffer Bubbles by Lobetia, a refreshing low-priced bubbles with citrus flavours – surprisingly good.

One of the most popular items sold by Advintage is Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV and Advintage are the only New Zealand provider of this finely beaded tipple with apple and yeasty notes from the wooded chardonnay – very smooth.

We finished the first half of the show with the 2007 Vintage Roederer. Subtle woodiness reinforced lightly toasty and vanilla flavours with a superb rich finish. As Mac says, ‘pay that little bit more and you’ll get that increase in quality you’d expect’ especially when comparing bubbly.

After a great supper we got into the rosé and sweet wines. As Mac says, ‘very cool, different options and exciting flavours’.

The 2014 Rockburn Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir Rosé was just as first remembered it back in 2010, candy-floss aromas with crème-brûlée and strawberry flavours.  The committee provided Christmas pies and biscotti to go with the showstoppers, Buller Fine Old Muscat and Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado.

The muscat, oh what a revelation, raisin notes with a rich intense molasses finish. This is truly a drink for anyone, even beer drinkers would appreciate the fine quality at an affordable price.

One last note. “After a brief hiatus, ‘JK’ has returned to his first love with a vibrant range of Hawkes Bay varietals. John has always made wines ‘with a big bunch of flavour ‘, and much like the man himself, these are generous, outgoing wines – full of character and colour.” – Go to Advintage for Big Bunch Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.

Thanks to Mac, JK and all the team at Advintage.

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