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In Good Taste

10 Things You Should Know About Wine

10 Things You Should Know About Wine

A Simple Guide to Drinking & Enjoying Wine

Walk into your local wine store these days, with bottles lining the walls, shelves, and racks, and you’re likely to faint from overstimulation. With such a wide variety and no shortage of people sharing their views on “the best wine," it can be hard to discern fact from fiction. Never fear: In Good Taste is here to help wine novices and virtuosos alike to navigate the wine world with ease.  Here are ten things we think everyone should know about wine.

1. Labels can tell you A LOT!

The label on your wine bottle can tell you more than just the vintage and alcohol content (though those things are definitely very important).

For instance, while both are made from the chardonnay grape, you may be amazed at the variance in flavors between a Napa Valley Chardonnay and a Chablis (pronounced “shah-BLEE”). The former will be packed with aromas of baked apples and cooked lemon, whereas the latter unoaked Chablis is celebrated for its purity in aroma and taste, and will be void of the classic California notes of butter and oak. When searching for a Riesling, keep in mind that a Riesling with a lower alcohol percentage will give way to sweeter wine types than a Riesling with higher alcohol content.

A general rule of thumb is that “Old World” wine coming from Europe may be significantly more earth-driven, with enticing notes of mushroom, tobacco, or barnyard, compared to more fruit-centered wines coming from New World regions, such as South America or the U.S.

Wine Labels Can Tell You A Lot! | In Good Taste, Things to Know About Wine

2. Price is not always indicative of quality

You do not have to spend $200 to enjoy a nice bottle of wine. Three main factors to consider when looking into the price of wine are its vintage, oak, and origin.

For instance, a solid Barolo may cost you between $75100. Aged in oak barrels for at least three years, this wine still has "room to grow," so to speak. A Barolo wine is great to save for special occasions as these can continue to age for 10 years or more in the bottle after they have been released.

In contrast, In Good Taste offers two Cabernet Sauvignon wines out of California, priced at $2535; they present many of the same qualities and characteristics found in cabernet, which is great to drink when you buy it, with a slightly lighter body. Bold, audacious, and fruit-forward, the Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles present the cabernet grape infused with the elements of their respective regions.

Price Does Not Equate Quality | 10 Things to Know About Wine

3. Most of the wines sold on the market are meant to be enjoyed immediately

It may sound shocking, but it’s true: about 90% of the wines sold each day are produced not to be cellared and aged but to be enjoyed within 18 months of production. And while young wines typically have more astringent tannins, simply aerating or decanting your wine can help to soften or mellow these and help enhance other aromas and flavors that may have been suppressed in the bottle.

No need to overthink whether or not you should save that bottle of Riesling until your 10th anniversary; you should probably just go ahead and drink it. This includes most of your most commercially popular wines. Order, drink up, and restock!

Most Wines Are Not Made to Age | 10 Things to Know About Wine

4. The best way to learn is to sip!

 

There are so many types of wine on the market, with different regions, varietals, winemaking styles, etc. The best way to learn about and get familiar with the wines you like is to taste them!

One of the great things about In Good Taste's tasting kits is that they help you enjoy and learn about many different varietals you may not have tried before. Our tasting wine flights feature eight six-oz bottles so you can try new wines with minimal commitment. Maybe you will taste something that blows you away and want to taste and learn more about that particular wine. On the other hand, you may taste something you are not really a fan of, which is fine too! It’s all about learning what pleases your palate!

Experienced sommeliers travel to taste different wines in different regions. W are constantly trying to explore and learn. But you do not have to be a wine pro to do this, just a lover of wine. Travel the wine world from your living room with Tasting Flights from In Good Taste.

5. Grapes will taste different coming from different regions.

Originating in France, the cabernet sauvignon grape is now grown all over the world, and the terroir ("tear-wah") – the geographic topography, soil, and climate –  of each region imparts its own unique twist on this adaptable grape.

Cabernet-based Bordeaux wines are full-bodied wines that smell like currants and the minerality of wet rocks. While a Cabernet from Sonoma Valley is rich and full-bodied, with notes of jammy dark fruit and spice, a Cabernet from Chile tends to be more medium-bodied, with herbal and chocolate notes.

If you’ve explored In Good Taste's California Wine Mixer, we compare and explore two Cabernet Sauvignons, grown in two vastly different California regions: Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Paso Robles, and Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Alexander Valley. If you have not tasted our California Wine Mixer, now you have a reason to!

Terroir on Wine Flavor | 10 Things to Know About Wine

6. "Clean" wine is not a thing

You've probably heard of it: "clean" or "chemical-free" wine. While these terms may seem transparent, many in the wine industry see them as merely a marketing ploy to infiltrate the booming wellness market and leach away more of your hard-earned money.

All wine (and beer and cheese) has sulfites. These sulfites, or sulfur-based salts, are a natural product of the fermentation process. Sulfites help to preserve the wine and protect from premature oxidization, bacteria, and yeasts.

Many large commercial winemakers add additional sulfites, along with other FDA-approved additives, to stabilize the wine and limit vintage variation so that each batch tastes the same. If you want to avoid these additives, look for organic wines that do not contain added sulfites.

Further, wine does not contain any artificial flavorings. While you may taste baked apples, vanilla, and butter in your glass of Chardonnay, these occur naturally using centuries-old methods of fermentation, aging, and oak. Wine cannot be made by simply pouring grape juice into a barrel and leaving it to ferment. There is a science that goes into winemaking.

Steel vs Oak Aging | 10 Things to Know About Wine

7. Wine is subjective

Although there are general characteristics to look for in grapes from certain regions, overall, wine aromas and flavors are subjective. From the same bottle, I may smell pithy grapefruit, and you may smell oranges. I may taste jammy, cooked fruit, and you may taste leather and smoke. The differences seem vast, but the truth remains: wine is a subjective element.

We recognize tastes and aromas that are familiar to us, those that trigger memories. We all have different experiences, and this actually affects our senses. One of the best things about wine tasting is sharing and comparing the aromas and flavors you pick up in each wine.

8. There are no rules!

The only rule of wine is there are no rules! We’ve all heard that, with red meat you should enjoy red wine. For the most part, that works.

However, if you want to try a red wine with your fish, try an elegant Red Burgundy. If you want white wine with your steak, try a full-bodied California Chardonnay.

For those rebels who want to enjoy a cold glass of wine on a hot day, add a few ice cubes or frozen grapes to your wine. There is no shame in the wine game!

9. Wine is only as complicated as you make it.

Wine is fun and meant to be enjoyed, plain and simple. Sure, you can study the terminology and technicalities if you’re interested. But at the end of the day, all you need to enjoy wine is simply a wine opener and a glass. You do not have to stress yourself about whether or not your wine will pair well with your dinner.

Here is a tip: choose a wine from the country that your dish is from; as they say, what grows together goes together. Simple. It is wine, not rocket surgery – your tongue will tell you if you’ve got it wrong.

10. Wine is best paired with friends and loved ones.

Few things are more enjoyable than drinking a nice glass (or bottle) with friends and loved ones. Talking about what you're tasting in the glass while unwinding at the end of a hectic day. Rosé is great, but enjoying rosé on the beach with friends is better.

At In Good Taste, we are proud to help connect friends, family, and colleagues scattered throughout the country while they indulge in their love of good wine.

Things to Know About Wine, Infographic | In Good Taste Wines

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Moscato

Andiamo

This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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