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

Merlot

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.”

Syrah/Shiraz

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.

Zinfandel

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.

Gamay

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.

Sangiovese

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

Chardonnay

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.”

Riesling

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.

Gewürztraminer

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.

Albariño

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

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

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.

Crémant

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.

Prosecco

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

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.

Lambrusco

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

Port

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.

Sherry

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

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.

Moscato

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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Del Mundo with Lucas Monge – April 2021

Our Del Mundo tasting in April was a premium European tasting with Lucas. The wines we indulged in were:

  • Terra Serena Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut – Italian
  • Tonon Prosecco Conegliano Vablobbiadene Extra Dry DOCG – Italian
  • 2017 Great Five Pinotage Reserve – South African – first released in 1945
  • 2010 Camilo de Lellis Biferno Montepulciano/Aglianico Trebbiaio DOCG – Italian
  • 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG – Italian
  • 2012 Estola Gran reserve Tempranillo Cabernet – Spanish
  • 2008 Faustino First Tempranillo – Spanish
Del Mundo Wines - April 2021
Del Mundo Wines – April 2021

Lucas’s presentation was lively and informative, and many attendees were surprised to learn that in Italy and Spain there are strict rules around what can be labelled reserve. Requirements vary on a regional basis, though essentially, they have to have an extended period in both the barrel and the bottle before being released.

Typically, wines at the higher end of the spectrum are aged for many years. While Chianti has to be aged for a minimum of two years, Amarone, which we tasted on the night, can only be released after four years. A grand reserve has even more stringent requirements. For a Spanish wine to be labelled as a Gran Reserva, the law requires that it be aged for a minimum of five years, with two of those years in an oak cask or barrel.

Other tidbits we picked up during the evening:

  • Del Mondo means ‘of the world’
  • Prosecco means ‘path through the woods’
  • In 2009, Italy Prosecco was recognised as a geographical indication (GI) by Italian law (in the same vein as Champagne in France) and the Prosecco grape variety was renamed Glera
  • Tempranillo was first planted in the year 800, given Royal assent in 1100
  • Tempranillo is also the world’s third-largest crop
  • The Great Five Pinotage Reserve was first released in 1945
  • The opportunity to try labels we were unfamiliar with made for an interesting time and the Faustino, which normally retails for $105, was a special treat.

Note from Editor

A big thanks to all Club members for mucking in and helping set up the tables & chairs, etc for our last tasting. The JCC has explained that the Fijian group present when we arrived had got their dates mixed up for their bookings and they (JCC) have given us a rent-free evening for our troubles.

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Missing coat, Regional Wines, Tasting deals, Saigon Van Grill

That missing coat

The issue of the missing coat remains unsolved. Can I ask those who attended the Dinner to check their wardrobes? Someone has mistakenly taken Mary Taylor’s coat and left their own. If you have the wrong coat please let me know and I will arrange a transfer.

Regional Wines newsletter

Members might be interested in the Regional Wines newsletter. This is really a low key weekly prompt about their tastings and specials, rather than a full-blown newsletter. Members who may be interested in some of the events that Regional run can go online to Regional’s website – the prompt comes out mid-week each week.

Tasting deals

A reminder to members that we are keen to attract new members. With this in mind, we have two membership deals. 1) If a member brings along a guest the member gets 50% of the door price. 2) if two guests come to the meeting then they pay one door price. Bring along friends etc who are interested in wine.

Report back from Saigon Van Grill

Many of you will have attended the Saigon Van Grill dinner last year. The servings were somewhat disappointing and there were complaints. Your committee has been in contact with the restaurant over a period of time resulting in an eventual small refund. Not enough to share around those attending so we used it to purchase the Prosecco for this year’s July dinner. Went down well we thought.

See you on Wednesday for yet another great tasting.

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

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A tour of Italy – Part 2

Glengarry’s Sunday ramblings of all things vinous, grain and glorious. A tour of Italy – Part 2 comes from The Sunday Sediment Issue 6.

Sicilia

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily boasts the greatest number of wineries of any Italian region. Leading light on the island is the fortified DOC wine, Marsala; so brilliant for cooking and superb when served with a hard cheese like Pecorino. While there are some impressive DOC wines here, there is also great value being offered by top quality producers making very good IGT wines from native varieties.

The South

Dino Illuminati

Generally, the south of Italy is all about value and generous, forward wine styles. Abruzzo is located on the coast north and east of Rome, the region home to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Historically significant as the place the vine first arrived in Italy from Greece, Apulia (or Puglia) is located in the middle of the heel of Italy’s boot. Known as a large volume producer, there are now top-rated DOCG, an impressive 25 DOC zones and a chariot-full of great Italian foods.

 

Italian Sparkling

Italian SparklingProduced largely in the north, Prosecco is the current high-flier of Italy’s respected sparkling wine industry. In 2009 it was awarded DOCG status, that important ‘G’ on the end adding a rock-solid guarantee to the quality of the wine. Franciacorta is both a highly-rated DOCG area and a sparkling wine with a huge reputation, produced a la champagne, but with even more stringent aging requirements than its French cousins.

Grappa

The Italians have been perfecting their heady spirit known as Grappa since the Middle Ages. A unique concoction produced from grape pomace (the skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over after the juice has been extracted for winemaking), Grappa began life as a coarse, home-made drink enjoyed by farmers after a hard day’s work. From these humble beginnings it has evolved into a highly refined spirit. By EU law, Grappa must be produced in Italy, without any added water, from fermented and distilled pomace. To produce it, the pomace is heated in a bain-marie (also known as a water bath or double boiler) to create steam, which is forced through a distillation column. The resulting colourless, filtered distillation can be enjoyed immediately, but the finest Grappas are aged in glass or wood, which changes the colour and adds complexity. Flavours, too, can vary considerably depending on the origin of the grape pomace, the blending and the aging process. Great post-prandial, or added to espresso.

Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

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A tour of Italy – Part 1


Glengarry’s Sunday ramblings of all things vinous, grain and glorious. A tour of Italy – Part 1 comes from The Sunday Sediment Issue 5.

Veneto

Veneto is home to the glorious sinking city of Venice and the romantic jewel that is Verona. Here, you’ll find great value Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino wines. Less than half of the wine produced in Veneto is able to be labelled with the Italian quality mark of DOC, with large quantities of IGT (table wine) produced there, making it an important region for quantity. It is also home to the superstar Amarone, and to the sparkling Prosecco wines made in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

Piemonte

Bruno Giacosca

Piemonte produces some of Italy’s most long-lived wines. A treasure trove of culinary delights, it is home to Barolo, Barbaresco, truffles and hazelnuts. The predominant red grapes are the indigenous Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, the whites, Arneis and Moscato. The wines are distinctly regional and oozing with flair. Lovers of Pinot Noir will feel right at home with Nebbiolo, which is bottled in its own right as well as being the variety behind the famed Barolo wines. Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

Toscana

Cesare & Andrea Cecchi with La Signora Cecchi

A long with Piemonte, Toscana (Tuscany) has the highest percentage of top-tier DOCG wines, and is home to the scarlet giants Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It is here that the new meets the old head-on, giving rise to the so-called Super Tuscans. The main variety in Tuscany is Sangiovese, used to make Chianti, with the variety’s greatest expression derived from the legendary Brunello clone developed by Montalcino’s Biondi-Santi family.

Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

 

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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
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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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Glancing Back – Aug 2014 – Cangrande

cangrandeThe consensus was that this was a great meeting with enjoyable wines, much comment on the Olive Oil and the Modena Balsamic, and an enjoyable presentation from Michele of Cangrande.

There were good orders of both the wine and the oil and balsamic. Also there was biscotti provided by Carmel. This went down a treat and was enjoyed by all, thanks Carmel.

To recap the wines they included a Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Docg – Bortolomiol (Veneto) as a quaffer followed by; Pinot Grigio Doc – Masut da Rive (Friuli – Venezia Giulia); Soave Superiore Doc “Monte Sella” – Le Mandolare (Veneto); Negroamaro del Salento Igt – Cignomoro (Puglia); Nebbiolo Langhe Doc – San Biagio (Piemonte); Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Doc – Caterina Zardini (Veneto); Il Fortificato, Fortified red wine based on Recioto della Valpolicella – Giuseppe Campagnola (Veneto); Cangrande also provided a Falanghina Beneventano Igt – Donnachiara [Campania], as a raffle prize.

Great fun trying to keep up with the Italian names.

Thanks Michele.

 

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A Taste of Italy with Cangrande

cangrandeMichele Marai from Cangrande presented a fantastic line-up of some of Italy’s best exports – wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and finishing with biscotti to go along with ‘Il Fortificato’.

Cost – members $14 and guests $18.

Wines tasted include:

Quaffer: Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG – Bortolomiol (Veneto)

  1. Pinot Grigio DOC – Masut da Rive (Friuli – Venezia Giulia)
  2. Soave Superiore DOC “Monte Sella” – Le Mandolare (Veneto)
  3. Negroamaro del Salento IGT – Cignomoro (Puglia)
  4. Nebbiolo Langhe DOC – San Biagio (Piemonte)
  5. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC – Caterina Zardini (Veneto)
  6. ‘Il Fortificato’, a fortified red wine based on Recioto della Valpolicella – Giuseppe Campagnola (Veneto)

Tasting review

Click image to view more images in the gallery.

Michele is a very passionate speaker in true Italian style you’d expect coming from Verona; home of Romeo and Juliet.

Michele along with his assistant and taste tester Carlo (Michele’s father) introduced members to a fascinating range of quality Italian wines. What proved to be a hit was Michele knowledge of Venetian history and the background of the many smaller family owned wineries assembled as part of his wine portfolio for New Zealand.

Members were treated to a great range of wines including a magnificent Amarone della Valpolicella Classico; one of Italy’s top reds. Not for the cost conscious but definitely worth every euro. This wine would compete with the best New Zealand and Australia offers with its purple colour, spicy aroma, gutsy mouth feel and rich lingering tobacco and liquorice finish.

Amoarone della Valpolicella blend includes Corvina which provides the blend’s acidity and sour-cherry flavors while Rondinella is used to add colour and body. If you see this on your next wine list, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

My three favourites on the night were the Prosecco, Negroamaro and Amarone. The Prosecco was fresh and lively with bosc pear and green apple notes, plump mouth feel and a lingering finish. The Negroamaro was more what I was expecting from an Italian red; rustic with strong savoury herb notes with a slight acidic finish. The Amarone was the hit of the show; big, bold luscious with a warming ripe plum mouth feel, and finishing like and express train.

A presto! … Steve

The first coat of arms of the Scala family. Still today it appears on the flags of the Verona Province, Verona football team and in logos and symbols of clubs, wine labels etc.

More on Cangrande

Cangrande takes its name from Cangrande della Scala, a great military and political leader and a well known wine lover, who ruled Verona in the early thirteen hundreds, making Verona one of the most powerful forces in Italy.

Through the centuries, Verona has developed into one of the most important districts in the world for wine production, trading and marketing.

In this time, all over Italy, wine making has become an art. Italian wines are still getting better, and in the last few decades more and more producers have focused on improving quality, achieving some impressive results.

Thanks to their work, Italy has now become the number one wine producing and exporting country in the world. Many native grapes have recently become world famous, and the effort of the winemakers that chose quality over quantity is paying off.

 

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Next event: Advintage Nov 2012

Stuff News recently ran an article on Advintage (10 September 2012) in the Dompost outlining the John (Mac) Macpherson and the Advintage story. Read the story here…

Irrespective of the history, it doesn’t get much better than this. We have enjoyed some great November bubbly tastings in recent years and this presentation promises to top them all

Many of you know John Macpherson and Advintage. Few members have not purchased a bottle or two from this outlet.

The following is a hint of what we might taste. There could be a couple of changes but the general theme will follow this outline. The links are to the Advintage website and provide detail of the proposed wines.

  • A French Vin Mousseux that Advintage are importing
  • Prosecco Riondo
  • Quartz Reef Central Otago
  • Roederer Estate
  • Champagne Lanvin
  • Champagne Lombard – from the same house as Lanvin but up the food chain
  • Champagne Roederer NV
  • Champagne Roederer Rosé 2007

John Kemble of Kemblefield wines along with Mac will present a winemaker’s perspective in parallel to a distributor’s perspective.

A light supper will be provided so be in for this tasting, and I’m sure it’s one tasting you won’t want to miss it.

 

Bubbles night with John (Mac) Macpherson from Advintage

advintage-logo-headerNext event – Bubbles night with John (Mac) Macpherson from Advintage

Presenter: John (Mac) Macpherson, Advintage

When you’re a wine store based in the sleepy but ever-so-slightly pretentious Hawkes Bay village of Havelock North (pop. 10,000) and you ship thousands of cases of wine nationwide each month, you must be doing something right. Right? Read the rest for yourselves.

Date: Wednesday November 14, 2012

Time: 7.45pm for 8.00pm

Venue: Johnsonville Community Centre Hall, Johnsonville

Door charge: Members $20, Guests $25

Note:

This promises to be one of those rare nights you will talk about to your friends and other members for years.

You will need to book for this tasting.

If you haven’t done so, do it now. Let Robin know by contacting him at semmens@xtra.co.nz.

Recent posts:

Cup Bubbling Over – the Advintage story

Next event, Advintage Nov 2012

Looking Forward – Bubbles and Dinner

Bubbles night with John (Mac) Macpherson from Advintage

From the Editor

Thank you everyone for sending in your responses for this month’s bubbles tasting and the dinner in December. We have closed the numbers for this week’s tasting and all that remains is for you all to come along and enjoy yourselves. There are still a couple of spots left for the Dinner if you wish to come or bring some guests. But you need to let me know ASAP.

Start time is 7:40pm for an 8pm start.

If you are attending either the November or December functions can I ask you to complete the attached form and bring it along with your payment to the November meeting. If you are only able to come to the December dinner, can you either send your payment to Wayne by the 26th November, or pay the money into the club bank account and let Wayne know [full details are on the form]

Thanks … Robin

Brown Brothers – Bernie Atkins

Glancing back Brown Brothers with Bernie Atkins

What a night, a great turn out of members and guests. The wines were varied and not all hit the mark with members’ but there was general agreement that the higher quality wines were excellent.

The evening demonstrated the Brown Brothers philosophy of producing a comprehensive range of wine styles and blends, with many being somewhat experimental and innovative.

The wines tasted were:

  • Zibibbo Rosa – a low-alcohol sparkling pink wine
  • Prosecco
  • Pinot Griggio
  • Tempranillo
  • Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Dolcetto & Syrah
  • Moscato
  • wrapped up with a Tawny Port and cheese.

Clearly the flagship “Patricia” Cabernet Sauvignon was the highlight of the evening, enhanced by early exposure to the air through being decanted at the start of the evening. An enjoyable tasting, a near record turnout, and a great evening for those attending.