The Wine Guide: Details on Tastings, Types, Cost & More
Wine is intimidating. The cult of snobbery around it is so pervasive in pop culture that you can end up feeling like you need a wine guide just to walk into your local wine bar. But all that anxiety is really just in your head! A good glass of wine can feel as unfussy as a PBR if you arm yourself with just a little information.
Instead of hyperventilating over your word choice when you try to describe a chardonnay or panicking when you realize you have no idea what a carménère even is, relax! Our little wine guide will answer all of your burning questions about wine pairing and even wine prices, giving you the confidence boost you need.
THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF WINE
There might be dozens of types of wine, but there's a handful that are typically among the most common, so we broke them all down for you below:
|Wine Type||Red or White?||Notable Growing Regions||Flavor Profile|
|Cabernet Sauvignon||Red||Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sonoma County||Ranges from vegetal and minty to jammy|
|Merlot||Red||Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Chilean Central Valley||Full-bodied with plum and blackberry notes|
|Pinor Noir||Red||Burgundy; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Walker Bay, South Africa||Fruit-forward with cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry flavors prominent|
|Chardonnay||White||Burgundy; Adelaide Hills, Australia; Central Coast of California||Range from citrusy and crisp to buttery and oaky|
|Sauvignon Blanc||White||Bordeaux; South Africa; Marlborough, New Zealand||Lime, green apple, and flowery peach notes|
|Riesling||White||Rhine Valley, Germany; Clare Valley, Australia; Finger Lakes, New York||Crisp, citrusy, and often sweet or semisweet|
|Rosé||Rosé||Provence, France; Rioja, Spain; Sonoma County, California||Red fruit, melon, rhubarb (varies greatly by region and grapes used)|
|Sparkling||White or rosé||France (Champagne); Spain (Cava); Portugal (Espumante)||Ranges from crisp and dry to subtle and sweet (varies greatly by region and grapes used)|
HOW TO PAIR WINE WITH FOOD
To pair wine with food, consider three main things: the course you're pairing it with, the main flavors of the dish, and what you like. Often, sparkling wines and rosés pair with appetizers, whites pair with seafood, reds pair with red meat, and dessert wines are obvious. But here are a few more tips to help you decide:
Save sweeter and lower alcohol wines (e.g. riesling, zinfandel) for spicy foods to help balance the heat.
With lighter meat like pork and chicken, pair your wine with the sauce (e.g. a bold red with a barbecue sauce, chardonnay with a light leek sauce).
When in doubt, always fall back on what you actually enjoy; don't get a malbec you hate just because it's supposed to pair well with a dish!
HOW MUCH SHOULD A GOOD BOTTLE OF WINE COST?
Wine prices may vary, but the sweet spot for most casual drinkers is around $15. Less than that, and it's not that you won't be able to find wines you love, but that it will be harder.
Many experts say that you shouldn't pay more than $25 per bottle because you're more likely to be paying for the prestige of the label or region than the actual quality.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON WINE-TASTING TERMS?
Wine-tasting terms vary and you shouldn't feel compelled to stick to them, but knowing a few can help give you a handle on describing your favorites. Check out the most common terms below:
Balanced: no note of the wine (acidity, sweetness, etc.) stands out above another
Buttery: a rich, creamy mouthfeel
Crisp: a delightful sense of acidity (think Granny Smith apple)
Dry: the opposite of sweet in wine terminology
Jammy: rich fruit flavor often without the drying sensation associated with tannins
Oaky: notes of oak from the wine's barrel as well as other flavors like vanilla or nutmeg
Spicy: strong sense of flavors like pepper or cinnamon (think malbecs and syrahs)
FIND WINE DEALS NEAR YOU
Click one of the boxes below to see wine deals near you:
THE BEST WINE-TASTING DEALS OFFERED RIGHT NOW
Now that you know a little about what kinds of wine are out there and how to describe them, you're ready to head to a tasting! Check out some of our top deals right now:
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