Wine 101: Things You Should Know By Now

So, you have had your first glass of wine ever and you want to learn all about it.  Here are a few things every new wine drinker needs to know.  

All sparkling wine is not a champagne, Champagne is a region in France.  Only sparkling wine from Champagne can be called Champagne.

Malbec the grape is originally from France.  Also called Auxerrois or Côt.  Depending on where it is grown, it will produce many styles of wine.  Fruity and viscous in Argentina, iron fisted and earthy in Cahors, France.

Burgundy is not a generic name for California jug wine.  Burgundy is one of the most prestigious wine regions in France.

Burgundy is the home of Pinot Noir.  It grows in many styles, specific to location: you will never mistake a full bodied Gevrey-Chambertain* for an elegant, delicate Chambolle-Musigny*.  (*These are names of villages in Burgundy; the wines of Burgundy are identified by their exact place of origin.)

Mass produced cheap Pinot Noir is mostly beefed up with black fruited Syrah grapes.  Drink cheap Côtes du Rhône instead.

Burgundy is the home of Chardonnay.  It grows in many styles, specific to location: you will never mistake a flinty, nervy Chablis* for a lush and nutty Meursault*.  (*These are names of villages in Burgundy; the wines of Burgundy are identified by their exact place of origin.)

Chablis is not a mass produced, sweet wine from California.  It is a place in the northern most part of Burgundy where Chablis wine is made from Chardonnay grapes.

Chianti is not a grape.  Chianti is a place in Tuscany.

Sangiovese is the main grape that makes Chianti and a bunch of other wines in Central Italy.  It’s big and fat in Montalcino, snappy and bright in Rosso Piceno, soft and chocolaty in Carmignano.

Pinot Grigio is not a generic name for white wine.  It is the Italian name for a grape varietal.  Also called Pinot Gris in France and Grauburgunder in Germany.

Pinot Grigio is only one of 350 grape varietals in Italy.

Riesling is not always a sweet wine.  Most of it is dry.  Ask the Germans.

Rose wine is not sweet either.  It is fine and dry.  It is also great in the afternoon at lunch.  Order a glass next time you are out.

Rombauer Chardonnay, like Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, has a lot of residual sugar in it.  It is sweet like corn syrup.  It stinks.

White wines should be served chilled, not cold (45-50 degrees). Red wines should be served cool, not room temperature (60-65 degrees).

Humans taste with their noses as much as they do with their tongues.  Smell your wine a lot.

Wine tastes best with food.

Wine does not pair well with chocolate, EVER!

The alcohol flavored grape juice substance at Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores is not really wine.  There is no such thing as $3 wine; it will be fake.  Go to your local wine shop instead.  You can find honest wine starting at $8.

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