Saturday, February 14, 2015

Types of Wine - Empire State View

Going along with the theme of I don't know what I'm doing...I'm obviously bad at posting. I've been trying to figure out how I want to approach this but instead of continuing to overanalyze as I'm prone to do - let's do this.

For my second post but first official wine related post I'd like to review types of wine from a very high level. I'm talking Empire State building high level and then we'll work our way down to the individual varietals (ya know the part that's so overwhelming).


That's it. Yep, I promise. No I'm not messing with you. Yes, I know that is not how it's sorted at the store. In order to appreciate the varietals, one must start with a general knowledge base so that when you are at the store and faced with hundreds of options - you can always come back to the start.

One important piece of information that applies to each type of wine is that all types of wines can range from sweet to dry. As we dive down into the varietals, we'll discuss further.

And now it's on to the good stuff!

Sparkling wines are fun. Even this sucker-punch-me-dry red lovin' wino can admit to that. There is just something that makes you smile when you drink a sparkling wine. It's like the bubbles make your cares float away. Sparkling wines are most often a white or Rosé. These wines can range from a dry Champagne to a sweet Moscato. *FUN FACT ALERT* Only Champagne produced in Champagne, France can be officially labeled Champagne. This is where one must be careful because that region is not the only purveyor of Champagne. True Story - there is nothing worse than opening a bottle marked "Sparkling Wine" expecting sweet bubbly bliss and being socked with a dry Champagne. You have been warned.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

White wines get their name and color due to the skin of the grape being removed from the grape prior to the fermenting process. Don't let this wine fool you! Just because it has a light color, does not mean that it will be a light wine! Rieslings most commonly represent a sweet and light white wine (although a good dry Riesling can be very enjoyable - let's give Germany a round of applause for blessing us with Riesling) while an oak-y Chardonnay rounds out white wine with a full bottom.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Rosé gets a bad rap for two reasons which I'm going to address quickly and simply. First, Rosé wines are not blush wines. I repeat Rosé wines are not blush wines. Second, Rosé wines are not the leftovers of white and red wines mixed together. Say it with me now, Rosé wines are not the leftovers of white and red wines mixed together. The Rosé wine was first perfected in France (the French at it again...they gotta be good for something). It's a versatile wine that is good for a mix of people and meant to be served with food.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Red red wine. My favorite type of wine. While assumed to be dry, one cannot label this glorious grape so narrowly. Red wines are bold and complex. Red wines are soft and sweet. Red wines are somewhere in the middle. Pinot Noir is a common type for my sweet-loving friend and I to share at dinner. A sucker-punch-me-dry Cabernet Sauvignon can warm you up on a cold winter's night.

       Pair With: Whatever you want.
       Serve: Whenever you want.

Dessert wines brings us to our final type of wine this evening. This is the only category that I will say falls outside the number one rule of having wines that range from dry to sweet. Dessert wines taste like the name. That is not to say there is not a wide selection of dessert wines! A heavy Port can be enjoyed on its own. A light and cotton candy Ice Wine can be a topping for ice cream and cheesecake. Just remember to keep the wine sweeter than the dessert or else you'll take away from the wine.

       Pair With: Whatever you want (usually dessert or a salty snack).
       Serve: Whenever you want.

My last note tonight will address my pair with and serve with comments. Even before I started drinking wine I knew the "white wines with chicken and fish - red wines with pasta and meat" line. To that I say the following: Hogwash. Balderdash. Rubbish. Horsefeathers. (yes that's a legitimate synonym for hogwash. You're welcome.) While there are guidelines with how to pair wines with your meal, it generally has nothing to do with JUST the color. So from here on out, I want you to forget you ever heard that. Erase it from your memory. Wipe it from your vocabulary. Drain it from your tongue with a glass of whatever you want, whenever you want. We will talk about how to pair food and wine as we delve into the varietals but you've just learned Rule #1 of My Guide To Wine. I'll even recap it for you in a nice easy to understand format.

Rule 1: Drink whatever you want. Whenever you want.

Happy Valentine's Day!