What You Should Know About Your Favorite Wine
You may be one or several of these colorful wines. Maybe it even changes based on the day (or time of day)! These wines vary as much in color as they do in flavor profile. To help you choose, because we know how tough it can be, we have provided a little background, fun facts and suggested pairing so you can have a glass your way.
1. Vinho Verde
- Fun fact: vinho verde is not a grape, like you may suspect. It is a region in northern Portugal where this easy-drinking white wine is produced. Though we are familiar with this wine as a sparkly white, the region produces far more reds that are typically not sold abroad (which should definitely be on your list if you find yourself there). Pair with flaky white fish, pork or buttery foods.
- Over 90% of muscadet wine is produced in the Loire Valley in France. This dry, highly acidic wine boasts a fruit-forward flavor that make it perfect for shellfish, fish and chips or pickled vegetables. Fun fact: if you see "sur lie" on the label, this means the wine was aged over dry yeast and will have a slightly oilier mouthfeel. Try with our Oven-Fried Fish & Chips.
- Moscato is made majorly from muscat grapes. Muscat grapes are an ancient grape found all across Europe. For this reason, they have incredible variety (in names and flavors) compared to many other grapes. They can be anywhere from dry and still to sweet and sparkling. One thing unifies all muscat wines: their luscious perfume. Pair Moscato with acidic, rich and spicy foods, such as a charcuterie board, cream sauces or tomatoes.
Related: Nordic Appetizer Board
4. Pinot Grigio
- Pinot grigio? Or pinot gris? What is the difference, if any? They are made from the same grape but they are hardly the same product. Pinot gris is thought to have first been produced in the Burgundy region of France, which led to its Italian reincarnation: pinot grigio. Pinot grigio is light, simple and almost tastes like candy. Pinto gris is usually a bit richer and deeper in flavor, while still being a light-bodied wine. Pair one of these white pinots with shellfish or a creamy cow's milk cheese, such as a triple-cream brie.
5. Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon blanc is one of the most recognizable wine flavors in the world. Its cultivation started in the Loire Valley of France, but was popularized in the eighties by wine makers in New Zealand. You can taste the places through their grapes. French sauvignon is delicate, zesty and herbaceous, while its New Zealand counterpart is fruity and tropical. Fun fact: sauvignon blanc is a parent grape to the ever-popular cabernet sauvignon. Enjoy this classic white with fresh herbs and rich-flavored foods.
Related: Guide to Cooking with Fresh Herbs
- Rieslings can get a bad rep, which is certainly not deserved. There are certain types of German rieslings that make the finest white wines in the world. We know what you're thinking, but it's not all sweet. Several types of rieslings are bone-dry. The International Riesling Foundation actually created this sweetness scale to help label wines more accurately and combat this misconception. Pair this high-acid, fruity wine with Indian or Asian dishes (takeout, anyone?). Dry rieslings also pair well with fatty meats like duck and bacon.
- Chardonnay is the jack of all trades, as far as white wine goes. From when it started being produced in Burgundy, France, chardonnay is another white wine that has skyrocketed in popularity. There are two major categories of chardonnay: oaked and unoaked. This refers to the conditions they are fermented in. Oaked wines are richer and creamier, with an almost bready taste, whereas their unoaked companions are lighter and zestier. As a bonus, some wineries are even making sparkling chardonnays. Pair this tried-and-true classic with fish, red meat or one of our Healthy Chicken Recipes.
- Sherry is having a moment, especially in the bodega scene. When you think of fortified or dessert wines, you may immediately think sweet and heavy. However, that is not the case with all sherry wines. Sherry can be very dry, like the fino varietal, or sweet and rich, like the Pedro Ximenez (PX) varietal. A little myth busting: sherry is not just an aperitif or post-dinner treat. Pair it with cheese, olives or ham.
3. Orange Wine
- Aside from having a beautiful color, orange wine is white wine if the skins were left on. The skins add a higher antioxidant content and more tannins to orange wine, making them taste more bitter and dry than a typical white. To accentuate their bold and delicious flavor, pair with bold foods such as curry or fermented foods like our Homemade Kimchi.
4. Vin Santo
- This wine hails from Tuscany, Italy and is made from a fusion of two white grapes. This sweet wine is aged in wooden barrels to give it its rich amber color. Traditionally, vin santo is a staple of Easter celebrations and is served with almond biscotti. For all other occasions, pair with nuts, fruits and desserts.
5. Cotes de Provence Rose
- Similar to orange wine, rose gets its beautiful hues from some contact with the skin of the grape. Unlike orange wine, this contact is just long enough to turn the white flesh of the grapes pink. Like there are several types of red and white wines, there are several types of rose (yay!) Try a Cotes de Provence Rose with a charcuterie board, like one of our Easy Cheese Boards & Appetizer Party Boards, or a salad.
6. White Zinfandel
- White zinfandel is produced strictly in the United States, and was the result of a happy accident when making traditional red zinfandel. In the 1970s, winemakers in California skimmed off excess liquid from their fermenting zinfandel, hoping it would intensify the red wines flavor and color. The leftover juice was only partially fermented, with significant sugar from the grapes leftover. This sweet pink almost-rose became what we now know as white zinfandel. Try with poultry, cheese or appetizers.
- "Beaujolais" actually refers to the region in France where this wine is produced. This light red wine is made with Gamay grapes, and is often enjoyed young, without much aging. The fruity and earthy notes of the wine, along with its low tannin content, make it an easy drinker. Pair this relaxed French red with meats, salad, cheese or anything raspberry.
2. Pinot Noir
- Pinot noir is a delicate, light-bodied red wine that is famed for the finesse it takes to make. Wine makers must be careful to not let the alcohol get too high or to age it in oak for too long, or the delicate grapes will spoil. Fun fact: the pulp of pinot noir grapes is commonly added to sparkling wines, like Champagne. Pair with meats, mushrooms or a goat's milk cheese.
- Tempranillo used to be the trademark Spanish wine. Though it is still majority produced in the old world, the new world is starting to get in on producing this spice-forward vino. For tempranillo, the label can tell a story. Wines called "tinto" are young and unaged, whereas "reserva" and "gran reserva" are aged up to 2 and 4 years, respectively. Try with meat, spicy foods or root vegetables.
- Ever wondered what the difference is between syrah and shiraz? The answer lies in where it is produced. Old world wines are called syrah, and typically have an elegant and refined taste. New world wines are called shiraz and are bolder, more jammy and more peppery than their traditional counterparts. Pair with bold flavors, like grilled meat, cheese or sausage. At your next dinner party, pair a glass of syrah with our Sausage & Pepper Medley.
- Big, bold and bursting with berry flavor, malbec is a classic full-bodied red wine. It is the pride and joy of the Cahors region in France; however, the grape is grown all over the world. Higher elevation malbecs from Argentina have higher tannins and acidity than their low-elevation elders. Pair a malbec wine with a hearty steak, another red meat or pizza.
6. Cabernet Sauvignon
- Contrary to what many people may think, the legendary cabernet sauvignon was born in southwest France, not the Bordeaux region. This grape is versatile and can grow successfully in nearly any climate, which is why it is one of the more popular grape varieties in the world. Cabernets can vary a lot in flavor and flair, but at their core they are full-bodied, fruity and high in tannins. Try a cab sav with cheese, meat, fresh herbs or chocolate.
The bottom line is that wines can come in several shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. These descriptions are to give you inspiration to enjoy your wine your way. A delicious, well-paired glass of wine never goes out of season or style. Cheers!