Category Archives: Learn About Wine

Great Wines – That Just Happen To Be Kosher!

Let’s face it. The star of the Hanukkah table isn’t typically the wine, but rather the amazing food served at the traditional Festival of Lights dinner. The brisket, the kugel, the salmon. The latkes, the apple donuts.

That said, there’s no reason – none, zilch – why wine should take a back seat to those festive foods. When chosen carefully, a good wine will make your Hanukkah celebration shine even brighter. Here’s our selection of the wines that will do just that. They’re all terrific, and they all just happen to be kosher.

Unorthodox Merlot/ Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
South Africa
$14.99 
This beautiful wine is a brilliant ruby red, and finishes with delightful, soft tannins. It has nice dried-fruit and herb aromas, and flavors of darker unripe cherries that make it a perfect pairing with your brisket.

Unorthodox Sauvignon Blanc
South Africa
$14.99
Forget the big, unbalanced grassy nose that has become so common in inferior Sauvignon Blancs, and instead delight in the bright tropical fruit flavors found in this bottle. We’re thinking salmon and latkes for sure.

La Citadelle De Diamant “Caesar” Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz Blend
Israel
$29.99
This one had us at Shalom. It’s big, with wonderful spice: think classic Bordeaux with a splash of Shiraz to shake things up. It has kugel and brisket and best-hostess-gift-ever written all over it.

Chag Sameach from your Bottles Family!

*prices subject to change

The Stunning Kelley Fox Wines

One of the first things that Bottles’ new Wine Director Melissa Principe did when she got to the store was ensure that we received an allocation of Kelley Fox wines. The Oregon Pinot Noirs have achieved a cult status over the past few years due to their high-quality and limited production; they’re among the most sought-after wines in the country.

“Anyone who avers that New World Pinot cannot match Burgundy for finesse and complexity has clearly never tried anything from this small, impressively consistent producer. Kelley Fox cut her winemaking teeth at Eyrie (and that influence shows very clearly in the wines she produces under her own name), followed by a 10-year stint (2005 to 2015) as winemaker at Scott Paul. She launched her own winery in 2007 and now produces around 2,000 cases a year of lithe, mineral-driven and strikingly pure Pinots from two of the Willamette Valley’s most highly regarded and meticulously farmed vineyards, Maresh and Momtazi. Native yeasts are used for all of the wines, and anywhere from a third to three-quarters whole clusters have been used since the beginning, but as of the 2015 vintage Fox will be using all whole bunches. She started out by using about one-third new oak for her first three vintages, used a bit for 2010 and 2011 and now uses none at all because she wants her wines ‘to be as pure and unadorned as possible, and oak can get in the way.’ As approachable as Fox’s wines are soon after release, they have the balance to age and, as a bonus, they deliver exceptional value for their quality.”

That’s what Josh Raynolds said in Vinous, and we couldn’t agree more.

Here are Melissa’s notes on the stunning wines of Kelley Fox:

2015 Ahurani Pinot Noir, Demeter Certified Biodynamic

This is a big wine! It has lots of acid and fresh cherry fruit, big iron and a good cherry nose, which is trademark Oregon. Only 607 cases produced.

$43.99

 

 

 

 

2015 Mirabai Pinot Noir

The Mirabai is made from 47-year-old vines and crushed with whole cluster fruit. It opens with a nose of sun-warmed strawberries and a little spice, and finishes with a strong tannin structure and acidity that welcomes fatty dishes. Think duck! Only 495 cases produced.

$43.99

 

 

 

2015 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir, Demeter Certified Biodynamic

The grapes for this bottle were harvested from three specific sites on the famed Momtazi vineyard; they’re all from Burgundian clones, are hand harvested, and whole cluster pressed. It has aromas of fresh black cherries and ripe black berry fruit, and finishes with balanced minerality and fleshy acid. Only 410 cases produced.

$57.99

 

 

2015 Maresh Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Maresh has a classic silk texture that can only be Oregon. The nose is full of violet and petite rose petals; ripe cherry and dark berry fruit glide on the finish. This wine is made to age. Only 192 cases produced.

$75.99

 

 

 

We hope you’re able to take advantage of these stunning wines this holiday season.

Cheers!

prices subject to change

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Why the Pros Buy Magnums for Holiday Entertaining


Planning a holiday party for more than just a few guests? Do what the pros do, and buy magnums. It’ll save you dough, and the larger size can add drama to your festivities.

A magnum of wine is 1.5 liters, which equates to two standard bottles’ worth of juice. And in most instances, one magnum costs less than if you purchased the two-bottles separately.

Magnums of Bottles’ house wine, Vino di Tavola, are particularly ideal for large gatherings: they’re well made, crowd-pleasers, very food-friendly and highly-drinkable. How do we know? They’re top-sellers here in store, and at our sister bar, The East End.

Both are made in Italy, in the small Piedmontese commune of Castellinaldo. Our Vino di Tavola Rosso is a blend of barbera and dolcetto, the Bianco is a mix of the arneis and favorita grapes.

And while pouring from larger-than-normal bottles can certainly add excitement to your festivities, there are a few folks who find the heavier bottles a bit unwieldy. For them, we suggest simply decanting the magnums into carafes ahead of time, for an easier at-table pour. 

This holiday season we’re offering special pricing on case purchases of our house wine magnums. Regularly $79, we’re offering the 6-magnum case for just $75, and will include a free engraved Bormioli glass carafe.* 

Now if you follow our party math, six magnums will be enough to serve wine all evening for a dinner party of 12. All for just $75. 

That’s something to toast to!

Happy Holidays – and Happy Entertaining!

*while supplies last. additional discounts do not apply. prices subject to change.  
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Top Thanksgiving Wines, Part II

Last week we shared the sparkling and white wines that we’ll be drinking come November 23, 2017. This week we present our picks for the rosé and reds that we think will that will complement your feast. Without further ado:

Charles Bieler Rosé, Provence
After we’ve taken a break from rosé during September and October, it’s nice to revisit a great one for Thanksgiving as a reminder that the pink phenomenon is good all year round. With light berry notes and a zippy acidity, this food-friendly wine will really make your entire feast sing!
$12.99

Primarius Pinot Noir, Oregon
This beauty from the Pacific Northwest has everything we look for in a Pinot Noir. Light in body, but with the depth of flavor and nuance that Oregon is famous for. This is one of our favorite ‘every day’ Pinots, but it really shines at the Thanksgiving table.
$16.99

Nicolas Chamarin “P’tit Grobis,” France
Don’t be fooled by this ‘Little Bear’ from Beaujolais! It’s an under-appreciated wine that carries great depth and weight, but with an extremely light body. It finishes with a wisp of baking spice, clove, and cola that’s an ideal partner for our traditional Thanksgiving spices. We’ll be bringing this one home to share, for sure.
$17.99

Billard Cotes-de-Beaune, France
An elegant wine for an elegant table, this little gem comes from a very small French producer who carefully tends just a few acres of Pinot Noir before pressing them by foot. Aged for 10 months in oak, this nicely-structured Pinot comes to life at the dinner table, and always helps the conversation flow.
$21.99

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

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(prices subject to change)

Top Thanksgiving Wines, Part I

November is our favorite time of the year at Bottles, which is why our team spends a good bit of the year thinking about you, your Thanksgiving dinner, and the bottles that will make your dinner sing. Out of the thousands of wines we taste each year, our nine November selections must meet the following criteria:

a) they must taste good
b) they must be agile enough to complement the Thanksgiving dinner as enjoyed on the whole
c) they must represent a good value
d) they must taste good.

Did we mention they must taste good?

Here are the sparkling and white wines that we’ll be drinking this November 23. Stay tuned next week for our rosé and red wine choices.

Terre di Marca Prosecco, Italy
Our favorite Prosecco for the second year running. It’s dry and full of expressive bubbles, it’s organic, and it comes in a cool looking bottle. What better way to toast to your guests’ health?
$13.99

Gérard Bertrand Crémant, France
A velvety soft and creamy French sparkler that’s less acidic and bracing than a true Champagne at twice the price, meaning you can sip on it through the entire Thanksgiving meal. This is the bottle (or two, or three) to have on hand for special company.
$19.99

Pere Mata Cava, Spain
The great thing about Cavas is that they’re bone-dry, elegant, and wallet-friendly. The Pere Mata in particular has terrific citrus and floral notes that will complement everything from that rich turkey and gravy to your after-dinner slice of pie.
$17.99

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc, California
Here’s the perfect choice for an all-purpose Thanksgiving white, satisfying both your aunt who loves Sauvignon Blanc and your cousin Marie who only drinks Chardonnay. It’s dry, crisp, and refreshing with a subtle baked apple and vanilla quality. Yes, please.
$12.99

Michel Caillot “Les Herbeux,” France
Ah, Mersault! From the heart of France, this rich and creamy, understated yet persistent, incredibly floral and expressive Chardonnay will knock your socks off. Mersault is the Chardonnay that even non-Chardonnay drinkers love. It’s. That. Good. Treat yourself!
$34.99

Happy Thanksgiving!

(prices subject to change)

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Meet Melissa – Bottles’ New Wine Director!

We’re so happy to introduce you to our new Wine Director, Melissa Principe. She’s a native Chicagoan who recently relocated to Rhode Island to give life on the East Coast a try. Prior to making the road trip to Providence with her co-pilot Piccolo (a two-year-old mini black lab), Melissa was in charge of the wine, beer and spirits programs for a popular speciality market chain of stores all throughout Illinois. She has scads of hospitality experience, having served as general manager and sommelier at various restaurants in Chicagoland, and was the Wine Director for the award-winning Tasting Room/Randolph Wine Cellars. Melissa has seven (seven!) older brothers, loves Sicilian and South American wines, is studying for her Masters of Wine, and is a killer bocce player. Though she’s incredibly busy adjusting to life in Rhode Island and getting to know the Bottles family of customers, Melissa took a few minutes to tell us a bit about herself.

Why wine. What sparked your interest in wine?
I grew up with it. My mother is Sicilian and my father is from Calabria. So there was always wine on the table. I’ve been down many other paths in my professional life, but wine is one of few things that’s kept my interest all along.

What are you most excited about in the wine world today?
I really like the fact that there are younger winemakers that are going back to the “old school” way of making wine. I’ve been lucky to travel a lot, and what I’m seeing is that there are more and more winemakers who are concerned about making sure that they’re taking care of their sense of place in terms of sustainability, organic practices, and biodynamics. I am obsessed with biodynamics, and a bit of a soil nerd. These things are so important to wine. Look back at the past two years. There hasn’t been one wine-making region that hasn’t been majorly affected by the super hot summers and changing weather patterns. It’s smacking you in the face! So there’s more consciousness around how we’re treating our land and our vineyards. This is good.

What’s underappreciated in the wine world today?
Port and other fortified wines. I don’t fully understand it, but turning women on to Port is a huge challenge! Maybe because there’s still the stereotype that Port is a stuffy Englishman’s drink to be sipped while smoking cigars. We all should totally be drinking more of it. Fortified wines in general get overlooked – and they shouldn’t. They are lovely.

How have you found success within the world of wine?
Through education and storytelling. I love to teach, and I’m a stickler for education. I have huge expectations for my staff. I’ll be there to help them reach those expectations every step of the way, so that we’re all able to serve our customers in the best possible way. I view our roles as storytellers – and that’s really important to me. Before a customer buys a bottle, we’re the last professional that has hands on it. That’s a pretty serious job to me. We better know all about that wine. We better know that winemaker’s story. Also, I like to be on the floor. I really like to talk about wine, to get people excited about wine. I like to engage guests – to ask lots of questions so I can fully understand what they’re looking for.

Though you’ve only been at Bottles for a few weeks, do you have any plans for the wine program that you can share?
I like sustainability – I’m nuts about biodynamic wines. So you may see more of those. Along with Sicilian and South American wines. And fortified wines. Things like this and more, which will balance all that Josh (Bottles’ General Manager) has brought in. Our palates are very different – he’s all about France, which is so great for us – and I can’t pick just one region. We’re a great match – it’s a great balance between the two of us – and the shelves will be reflective of that.

What’s Your “Desert Island” Wine?
The wine that changed everything for me was the 1987 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Riserva White Label. Everything about it was amazing. Everyone who’s into wine has a bottle they chase – this is that bottle for me. I’ll also never forget the Barros ‘82 Colheita, which I hope to bringing into the store soon. And lastly, the Andre Clouet Brut Reserve Rosé. You want to bathe in it.

Why Providence?
I still love Chicago but I was ready for a change. In addition to a milder winter (!) I’m looking forward doing business in this smaller market. Rhode Island hasn’t been taken over by big business quite yet. Coming from a big city I saw the impact that letting the big guys take over had on selection and service. It’s so depressing to taste an amazing bottle of wine in rural Italy and know that it wouldn’t stand a chance in getting into a market dominated by chains. It’s stores like Bottles that give me hope in the face of the big guys.

What will you miss most about Chicago?
Sunday dinner with my brother and sister-in-law.

When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Hanging out with my dog Piccolo, cooking, or studying. I’m in the middle of my Master’s of Wine program.

What’s your favorite wine pairing?
Mayu and The Chicago Blend. Mayu is a Chilean producer and has a red blend of carmenere & syrah. The Chicago blend is a mix of caramel corn and cheese popcorn. It’s ridiculous. It’s totally goofy and it totally works.

If you could have a dinner party with any three people in the world, who would they be?
One, the wine writer Jancis Robinson. I love her writing, the way she thinks and talks about wine. She was the first female Master of Wine and was at the 1976 Judgement of Paris, and I’d love to pick her brain on a thousand different things. Another would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I’d want to know what her desert island wine is, among other things, of course. And the third would be my amazing niece Francesca with whom I’m incredibly close, because these are two women she should have the experience of sitting down and having dinner with.

Next time you’re in store, be sure to look for Melissa and say hello. And stay tuned for more from her in the weeks to come!

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Wine For “Steakhouse Night,” At Home

When we opened the current issue of Edible Rhody and saw New Rivers Chef Beau Vestal’s very delicious take on the traditional “steakhouse” dinner, our minds immediately went to the classic “steakhouse” pairing: a big ‘ole bottle of hearty red wine.

It’s an enduring, no-fail pairing that’s enjoyed nightly in steakhouses across the county. And given Chef Beau’s simple recipe for all the fixins, there’s no reason you can’t replicate it at home. Says Chef Beau:  “A quick herb rub and a short time on the grill makes hanger steak, one of the most flavorful cuts of beef, really sing. Serve the steaks with roasted spiced sweet potatoes and lightly creamed kale and any autumn night can be steakhouse night!

And for our wine pairing we turned to our brand new Wine Director Melissa Principe, whom you’ll be hearing a lot from in the coming weeks. We’re excited to have her with us and can’t wait for you to meet her.

Melissa paired the steak, sweet potato & creamed spinach with the 2016 La Posta Pizzella Malbec ($17.99): “I have had the pleasure of visiting this vineyard and meeting the Pizzella family. Argentina has a deep history of Italian immigrants and the La Posta project highlights those connections with these single vineyard wines. Chef Beau’s recipe reminded me of the amazing lunch we had at the vineyard that highlighted the natural pairing of beef and malbec. The Pizzella is full and lush, and hits you at first with a nose of dark berry fruit and cocoa, then unfolds with a beautiful pink peppercorn spice on the finish. The longer it’s open, the deeper the cocoa gets, and the richer the berry flavor. It’s a big wine for a big steak dinner!”


Chef Beau Vestal’s Grilled Hanger Steak and Sweet Potato “Steak Fries” with Pumpkin Seek Chimichurri and Lightly Creamed Kale

INGREDIENTS

Chimichurri:
½ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (or pepitas), shelled and toasted
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sweet Potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), washed and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Steak:
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 (6 ounce) pieces hanger steak

METHOD

First make the chimichurri: Combine parsley, oregano, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add pumpkin seeds and olive oil. Stir to combine. Check seasoning and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, olive oil, allspice, fennel, salt and pepper. Arrange slices in single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate pan and flip sweet potatoes over to ensure even browning. Bake additional 10 minutes until potatoes are “fork-tender” and nicely browned.

For the steaks, add fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender and purée until smooth. Rub all over steaks until steaks are well-coated. Let them sit while you heat up the grill (or use a grill pan over high heat).

Grill steaks over high heat about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (A meat thermometer should read 130ºF for medium-rare to medium.) Pull steaks off grill and place on plate tented with foil to keep warm until ready to serve. Drizzle steak with chimichurri and serve alongside sweet potatoes and the creamed kale. Serves 6.

Enjoy!

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Top Wines For Fall – Part II

Last week we introduced you to four of the wines that our team’s been reaching for now that the mercury is dipping into the 50s. Here are a few more that we recommend. Give them a try – we think you’ll love them as much as we do.

Ravines Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, NY
An adult wine from the Finger Lakes with lots to offer, and just a little chip on its shoulder about how much attention New York City gets compared to the Finger Lakes. Kinda like Providence. Flavors of dusty berries, baking spice & black pepper mean this wine loves pork, red meat & game, with creamy potatoes & wilted greens on the side. You’re welcome.
$19.99

B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma/Napa, CA
This is the bruiser of our Fall Wine Picks: it’s a big, straightforward cabernet sucker-punch to the mouth, tailor made for easy-drinking on cool New England fall nights. Preferably with hearty food with some fat. Maybe like a grilled sirloin or lamb chops, you ask? Yeah, that’d be nice.
$24.99

Domaine Maby Rosé, Tavel, France
You know what we say here at Bottles – anytime is a good time for rosé! In the fall, we trade in our whisper-light versions for those with more heft to stand up to a morning frost on the pumpkin. Tavel wines have that weight, along with sultry floral aromas that make it a great dance partner with the roasted chicken, pork or veggies you’ve been craving.
$19.99

Yves Cuilleron Marsanne, Rhone, France
There are few whites that are as food friendly as the under-appreciated marsanne, what with its rich wildflower honey & hazelnut flavors that beg for the grilled and roasty foods of the fall. If you break this one out at your next dinner party, & serve a simple roast chicken, you’ll prove to your pals that you know your wine!
$24.99

Sultana Grillo, Sicily, Italy
If this is “just a simple Sicilian table wine,” then why the heck to we like it so much? Because it’s got bright citrus, peach & almond flavors in spades, is easy drinking and pairs well with virtually everything, especially herb-y, cheesy dishes. We’re crowning it the the ultimate dinner party wine this season. Go forth and drink.
$11.99

Happy Fall!

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Top Wines For Fall – Part I

Fall’s here, gang. Time to explore wines that have a little more to them. Wines that’ll elevate your first rich and decadent pot roast of the season, and those that you’ll want to open when you’re burning leaves in the backyard.

Out of the hundreds of new bottles we’ve tasted over the past few weeks, here are four that we think will be among your go-tos this autumn:

Adegamae Pinot Noir, Portugal 
This rockstar of a pinot noir starts with a big burst of juicy berry fruit, followed by a soft and silky finish. It’s perfect for this transitional season: still light enough for warmer October evenings, but with the right hint of autumn in the finish.
$14.99

Murgo Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy
Only 5,000 cases of this beauty were made – and we’re darn happy to have many of them! It’s light, but lively with flavors of berry, orange zest, herbs and minerals. We want you to try it chilled: Tuck a bottle in the fridge for 20 minutes, pair it with a good fall meal, and taste the magic. It’s a special one for sure.
$19.99

Domaine Jacky Marteau “Lulu” Gamay, Touraine, France
“Lulu is the kind of chick that’ll convince you to rob a bank with her and only you’ll get caught.” So says the winemaker about this bottle that was inspired by the “quirky pluck” of actress Geena Davis. And you know what? We agree. It’s jammed with ripe blackberry and cola flavors, and goes with anything you want to throw at it.
$15.99

Fiorini “Becco Rosso” Lambrusco Grasparossa, Italy
Our pick for a wine that has “fun” written all over it. If you’ve never had a Lambrusco, start with this one. Think bubbly red wine with flavors of dark cherry, raspberry and plum, enjoyed over a cheese and charcuterie board with friends. Or, with pizza on the couch when you judge whether or not NBC’s lineup really is “Must See” again.
$15.99

Tune in next week for our remaining fall favorites. In the meantime, happy autumn!

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How To Throw A Blind Wine Tasting Party – New And Improved!

A few years back we published a step-by-step instructional on how to throw a blind wine tasting party that featured a selection of red wines. It’s been such a hit – year after year it’s our most popular blog post – we’ve decided to reprise the original with the addition of a few new themes for your tasting pleasure.

The wines in each of our new tastings are related, though distinct enough to allow you to differentiate them from one another. By tasting similar wines side-by-side, you can really learn how to focus your impressions and perfect your tasting chops. By tasting them blind, you’ll lose any preconceptions you have about particular labels and styles, and really allow yourself to understand what you like.

You can use our guided tastings, or you can just select a few bottles that you like, and use our free, downloadable WINE SCORECARD and WINE TAGS to create your own tasting.

1. To get started, pick one of the tasting themes below, make your way to Bottles, and have one of our team members help you select the wines to match the theme and your wallet.

2. Have at least 1 wine glass for each guest, with a bottle of water and dump bucket nearby so they can rise out between tastings and easily dispose of tastes they’re really not into.

3. It’s also a really good idea to have light snacks on hand. Not only will a few bites keep your pals from getting too tipsy, they’ll also provide the opportunity to taste the wines with various flavors. Cheese is the natural wine pairing partner – and it’s easy to find a good selection at most all grocery stores these days. Look for a wide variety of cheeses, such as a mix of something soft (brie), something spreadable (fresh chevre), something aged and hard (aged gouda), sharp cheese (aged cheddar) and a blue (gorgonzola).

4. Put each wine in a brown paper bag (ask for them at Bottles!), and afix our numbered WINE TAGS to identify each bottle.

5. Use our printable WINE SCORECARD so that guests can record their thoughts on each bottle. Be sure to have a few pens/pencils on hand. Share with your guests the theme of each tasting so that they have a general sense of what they’re looking for.

6. Once you and your guests have tasted each wine, take turns guessing what each bottle is before you do the big reveal.

7. Once you’ve unmasked each wine, feel free to use our guide and general descriptions to see if your guests’ impressions are in sync. BUT: It’s incredibly important to note that this is not a graded test! If what you taste doesn’t match what we’ve written – that’s ok! What’s most important is that you and your guests explore different wine styles and enjoy each other’s company.



 

A Rosé Tasting!

This is a great, fun tasting to have with friends at a summer barbecue. Just open a handful of delicious rosés and see if folks can guess which is which! Here’s a hint: with rosés, look for color as a good indicator of weight. Typically the darker the color, the heavier/more bold the wine.

Wines to Purchase
1. A light rosé from the Cotes de Provence – It’s the birthplace of rosé, and experiencing Provence is essential to getting to know good rosé. Made from a blend of grapes, Provencal rosés can range wildly in terms of style and quality, but a good mid-teen priced example should do just fine. Provence is in the South of France, and these wines will be light, dry, lean and minerally.

2. A heavier rosé from Tavel or Bandol – Now Bandol is actually sub-region within Provence, so this may seem silly to be listed in here, however the folks here make a very distinct style of rosé.  Bandol rosés tend to be fuller and more bold. They are, however, somewhat pricey. An alternative that will still deliver the heavier body would be a wine from Tavel. Both Bandol and Tavel tend to be darker in color.

3. Rosé of Pinot Noir – These can be really fun, as they tend to be light and easy drinking. They can be pricey as most pinot noir is, but in a blind tasting they can often act as a curveball.  Look for some out of Oregon or California.

4. A rosé from the Loire Valley – These delicious wines are made from cabernet franc which creates a unique rosé that should stand out from most other styles.  Look for a touch of weight with less acid than the others.

5. Your favorite – Select your ‘go to’ rosé that you already love and see if you can pick it out from the field, and see if you still love it more than the others!

 

White Wine!

Have fun with this tasting, where you and your guests will try to tell one classic white wine from another.

Wines to purchase
1. Chardonnay – This classic white can have many different faces. For this tasting, you’ll want to select one that has been oak-aged. Tasting Tip: You’ll find round, buttery flavors in this wine, all due to the oak-aging.

2. Pinot Grigio – This one may give you the most trouble to nail down. It’s a bit of a chameleon, and can have lots of the characteristics of other whites, but you should be able to place it, given its light body and restrained fruit flavors.

3. Sauvignon Blanc – These tend to have higher acid levels than most, and you will know this because they will make the back sides of your mouth water after your first taste.  New Zealand examples tend to have very pronounced grapefruit-like flavors so may be another give away.

4. Chenin Blanc – There are many grapes you could pick for this fifth spot, but we like to use chenin blanc, the main grape in like Vouvray in France or Steen in South Africa (or just “Chenin Blanc” in the USA). Its floral aromas and light body are delicious — this is a curveball bottle, for sure!

5. Riesling – Look for one with a medium sweetness level so as to further differentiate this wine from the others. You’ll likely find floral notes and ripe fruit flavors like peach or lychee.  

 

Old World vs New World – A Red Wine Tasting

This is a classic blind tasting that can really sharpen your skills. The idea here is to take two wines made from the same grapes, though from different regions of the world, and taste them blind, side by side, and to guess which was made where.

Here are a few clues:

Old World Wines are typically from countries that have been making wine for millennia, and adhere to strict wine-making rules (Italy, France, Spain). The wines are usually drier, earthier, with balanced fruit, acidity and tannins. Old World wines dazzle you with elegance and finesse.

New World Wines are generally from countries that discovered wine making during a more recent century and are not typically bound to traditional wine-making methods (USA, New Zealand). They tend to be bigger-bodied, and have much bolder fruit flavors. New World wines blow you away with their power.

Wines to purchase:
1. Pinot Noir from the Old World. We suggest a relatively youthful ‘Bourgogne’ style from Burgundy, France. The trick here will be price point, as Burgundy can get expensive, but you should be able to find a good bottle for around $20 – Bottles is a great place to look! Tasting Tip: In the Old World pinot, you’ll find more earthy, leathery and restrained notes.

2. Pinot Noir from the New World, either California or Oregon would be great picks, as long as the wine is made from 100% pinot noir grapes. Tasting Tip: In the New World expression, you’ll find brighter, fruiter notes.

3. Old World Red Blend. The classic to look for here would be a Bordeaux blend, ideally one from the Left Bank, which will tend to be more Cabernet Sauvignon based.  All Bordeaux wines are blends, and each sub-region has its own style, but for your tasting here that shouldn’t make a difference. Tasting Tip: This wine will be more fuller bodied than the pinot noirs, with lean fruit flavors, balanced by fresh tobacco and earthy notes.

4. New World Red Blend – California has a tremendous amount of red blends, but Australia and South Africa will have lots as well. Try to find one that has a good amount of cabernet sauvignon if you can. Tasting Tip: This wine will have more pronounced fruit flavors than the Old World red blend.

5. Old World Nebbiolo-based wine. This is a fun curveball, as it has flavor profiles similar to both Old World and New World styles. You’ll find fruit notes, as well as earthy, floral aromas.

We hope you have fun with your party – tag us with your photos!

Cheers & Enjoy!