There’s no doubt that picking the perfect wine can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why we decided to take the guesswork out of shopping by categorizing our bottles in eight easy to understand styles including: Crisp, Silky, Rich, Bold, Mellow, Fruity, Bubbly, and Nectar. Each wine features a description listing the wine’s characteristics, flavors and suggested food pairings.
Every one of our bottles is hand selected by our local stores and approved by our Masters Wine Panel, which is led by Doug Frost, the second person in history to complete the Masters of Wine and Master Sommelier distinctions. Each WineStyles Tasting Station features approximately 150 revolving world-class wines from small and large vineyards around the world. Most bottles are priced between $10 – $25 and our knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect match for any occasion.
- Refreshing, clean, bright
- Flavors of citrus, apple & pear
- Pairs with salads, flaky fish, shellfish, spicy dishes, cheese
- Creamy, toasty, adaptable
- Flavors of vanilla, honey & melon
- Pairs with pasta, chicken, fish, soft cheese
- Fruit forward, jammy grapey
- Flavors of raspberry, strawberry & blueberry
- Pairs with salads, pizza, salmon chicken
- Round, velvety, smooth
- Flavors of cherry, berry, herbs & earth
- Pairs with pasta, veal, pork, beef, lamb
We’ve simplified the wine pairing process and made it easy with our exclusive wine “styles” concept above. However, if you’d like to dive deeper into the reasons why certain foods taste better with certain wines, let’s explore the tastes together.
In a general sense, the wine your are drinking should be sweeter than the food it is paired with. Otherwise, the wine will taste bitter and tart. As an example, desserts are best paired with a Port or Sherry wine, an after dinner wine. BUBBLY semi-sweet sparkling wines could also be paired with fruit desserts.
Bold & Spicy Foods
Barbecue sauces need to be equally paired with BOLD and spicy wines, such as Shiraz, Malbec or Zinfandel, so they don’t over power your palate. If your burger or meat is seasoned, consider pairing with a BOLD Syrah wine with spicy notes.
Spicy & Sweet Foods
Spicy Asian, Thai or Indian foods can be tamed with dry Rieslings, Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Vouvrays or Gewürztraminer.
Roasted, broiled or barbecued beef dishes pair well with BOLD wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. Lamb, wild game such as venison, wild boar, hearty vegetable dishes and strong cheeses also pair well with Malbec and Tempranillo BOLD wines. Depending on the seasoning or sauces, chicken is ideally served with RICH or SILKY Chardonnays.
Be sure your wine has a higher acidity than the food it is paired with. Steer clear of a buttery Chardonnay and a salad with vinaigrette.
Earthy & Rustic Foods
Old World recipes tend to pair well with Old World wines (European). These pair well with rustic recipes from Italy, Spain and France. Chianti pairs well with Tuscan cuisine, from sausage to grilled meats and ripe cheeses. Pastas pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon. Other earthy foods, such as mushrooms and truffles pair well with MELLOW wines, such as Pinot Noir.
Fish and shellfish recipes can be paired with light, CRISP white wines like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, served lightly chilled. Salmon or fatty fish with rich sauces, pairs well with SILKY white wines from the New World (California, Chile or Australia).
Serving a dish with a lot of fresh herbs and veggies, consider white wines that are SILKY, such as Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Vermentino grape varietals.
How to Taste Wine
Drinking wine is a pleasure unmatched by any other beverage. It’s aromas, flavors, complexities, ability to pair with foods and enhance meals and gatherings make drinking wine a special experience. While drinking wine can be a simple activity, the process of learning to taste and evaluate wine in an objective manner is essential for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of wine.
Drinking Wine vs. Tasting Wine
Drinking wine a.k.a. the “grip it and sip it” approach is really just about consumption of an alcoholic beverage that happens to be wine. While drinking wine is a very enjoyable activity, it is a different experience from tasting wine. Tasting Wine is a defined process in which a taster follows a specific course of action to engage a variety of senses to maximize the tasting experience to better evaluate the various visual, aromatic, taste and mouth feel components of a wine.
Why Follow a Tasting Process?
Learning to follow a structured tasting process will help you objectively evaluate wine in a manner that is allows a taster to better:
- Engage all senses to maximize the tasting experience
- Compare and contrast quality, complexity and flavor of different wines
- Better understand the varietal characteristics of individual grapes
- Better understand and appreciate “Terrior” – the term for how the land, soil, microclimate, and regional influence of the area affect the wine.
- Better understand the influence of vintage and influence of aging on a wine.
Preparing to Taste:
Before tasting, it is important to prepare yourself for the experience. Here is a list of recommendations and instructions to encourage a better tasting experience.
- Make sure you are in a room with adequate lighting so you can easily notice the variance of color between various wines.
- Have a sheet of white paper available to help provide a back drop to help contrast the color of various wines
- Use proper glassware that is made specifically for wine with a glass or crystal (preferred) bowl that is clear and colorless, without embellishments, with a thin rimmed edge.
- When possible, it is preferred to have a fresh glass for each unique wine that is being poured. This will allow you to compare the wines side by side.
- When glassware is limited, try to use a fresh glass when switching between red wines and white wines.
- Refrain from wearing strong cologne or perfume that may overpower the aromas of the wine.
- Refrain from eating any strong foods, chewing gum or drinking strong beverages such as coffee prior to tasting.
- Cleanse your palate with a few crackers or a piece of bread prior to tasting.
- Do not compliment wines with cheeses or other food pairings during the tasting, wait until after you have experienced all of the wines with a clean palate. Drink the wines first on their own, before pairing with foods
See, Swirl, Smell, Sip & Spit
The first step in the tasting process is to visually evaluate the wine. When looking at the wine it is best to assess the wine against a white background. During this step you are looking at the wine to evaluate color and clarity of the wine. The color of a wine can provide you a lot of clues about how the wine may taste and even where the wine may be from.
White wines can range in color from near colorless to a rich golden color. In general, near colorless and lighter hued white wines indicate CRISP, higher acid wines, made from grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, that are usually fermented in stainless steel without the use of oak. White wines with colors moving towards deeper yellow and more golden colors are an indication of fuller bodied RICH wines, produced from varietals that will be richer in texture, softer in acidity and perhaps aged in oak. Additionally, as white wines age their color evolves into a deeper golden color with honey or amber colored accents.
Red wines can range in color from a light pink salmon color for Rose wines to dark and inky wines that are completely opaque and almost black. Lighter colored red wines generally indicate red wines that will be FRUITY; lighter in body and higher in acidity, such as Barbera, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. Wines that are deep and intense in color indicate varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel that are BOLD; full bodied, dense and powerful wines. Generally speaking the darker the color of the wine, the warmer the growing region the wine is from. The warmer temperatures lead to darker color pigments in the grapes and higher sugar levels that translate into higher alcohol wines that are often very deep in color.
When looking at a wine for clarity, check to see if the wine is clear and brilliant in the glass without any noticeable flaws. Well made wines should not be hazy or cloudy and should not have any visible flaws. Wines that are cloudy or hazy indicate a wine that may not have been made properly that may exhibit undesirable qualities.
The reason for swirling the wine is to introduce oxygen into the wine glass and to agitate the wine to release esters that contain the aromas of the wine. The more esters you can release from the glass the more pronounced and detectable the aromas of the wine will be.
To swirl your wine, grab your wine glass near the base of the stem, tilt the glass away from you at about a 30° angle and rotate your wrist in a counter clockwise motion. The wine should briskly swirl around the inside of the glass bowl creating a funnel effect.
Be sure to keep your hands off the bowl of the glass, preventing your hands from warming up the wine too much.
Once the wine has been swirled it is time to smell the wine. To properly whiff the aroma of the wine, bring the glass to your nose with your nose fully inserted in the bowl of the glass. Hold the glass under your nose and take a deep breathe in. This will stimulate your sense of smell and trigger your brain to process the aromas. Next, move the glass away from your nose for a few seconds and then bring the glass back to your nose for a series of regular breathes. Now that your brain already has began to process the aromas following your deep breathe, your senses will be heightened and capable of identifying aromas in greater detail.
Finally, the part you have all been waiting for! You finally get to taste the wine. Although, when you sip the wine do not simply drink it. It is important that you take a sip large enough to allow the wine to coat your entire tongue. Enhance the intensity of flavor by aerating the wine in your mouth by making a small opening with your lips and sucking air into your mouth.
By aerating the wine in your mouth you will release more esters and send more aromas back through your nasal passages. The more you smell, the more heighten your sense of taste. Make sure that you pass the wine over all areas of your tongue from front to back to coat your entire palate. You’ll register different tastes in different areas of your tongue, so it is important that you engage all of your taste receptors to maximize the experience.
The idea of spitting wine may seem ridiculous to the average person, but it can be absolutely essential at certain times. If you ever attend a large wine tasting event, featuring dozens or hundreds of wines, spitting out your wine after each tasting can be critical to prevent from becoming overly intoxicated.
Spitting out wine is a completely acceptable practice, especially when tasting or evaluating a large number of wines. Obviously, it goes without saying that you don’t have to spit to taste wines, but we recommend that you use discretion and consider spitting at certain times.
Nowadays, most wines are ready to drink immediately after purchase. Typically, only a small percentage of wines are released to the market with the intention of storing long-term before drinking. Whether you prefer to consume immediately or save for a special occasion, investing in a small wine refrigerator will keep your favorite wines at the optimum tasting temperature. This is especially important if you live in a hot climate or region without a basement. There are several inexpensive, small countertop wine refrigerators on the market.
Typically, the ideal temperate is 55° F for storage purposes. If it goes up +10 or -10 degrees will not effect the wine too much. Just make sure it doesn’t go above 65° F, otherwise your wine will be “off” or “cooked”. Think of your wine as a living, breathing, organism that needs to be kept in the right environment. This is especially true when transporting your wine from the point of purchase to your home. Never leave wine in a hot car, especially for an extended period of time. Interior temperatures within cars can reach over 100 degrees in the summer time. Keep an insulated tote bag in your trunk, perfect for transporting wine during the summer months.
Avoid storing wine near appliances, such as on top of your refrigerator or near a stove. When operating these appliances your kitchen will warm up, as well as your wine. Keep your wine storage rack away from an oven, cook top, grill, refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry room, furnace or fireplace.
Conversely, do not store your wine where it can freeze, such your garage in the winter time, trunk of your car or forgotten in the freezer.
Ideally, store in a cool area, away from direct sunlight or windows. In lieu of a wine refrigerator, consider a closet or basement area that is not too damp or cold. Keeping it away from your furnace, fireplace or laundry machines.
Typically, wine bottles are stored on their side to prevent the corks from drying out. If the cork dries out, more air might enter the bottle and spoil the wine. Horizontal storage is definitely more space-efficient as well. If your wines are screw caps (Stelvin) or plastic corks, it’s not necessary to store on their side.
Direct sunlight UV rays can effect your wine long-term, prematurely aging the wine. Many wine refrigerators use LED lights, which are ideal for wine storage. Even though red wine is in colored glass, it will not be enough protection from direct sunlight from an extended period of time. Typically, white wine is bottled in clear glass, indicating it is meant to be consumed fairly soon and not stored for many years.
Trying to decide the number of bottle capacity for your new wine storage rack or refrigerator? When in doubt, double the capacity. Once you start collecting, it’s hard to stop and you’ll quickly need more space.
If you’re upgrading your wine storage rack, consider how much you spend each year on wine. As your wine collection grows, so does your investment. If you decide to go big, be sure to work with a professional wine cellar installation company, who can properly build your cellar and wire your home to code. Always opt for energy efficient units that also protect your wines and your pocket book.