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Do your ears perk up whenever you hear something regarding the health benefits of red wine? I know mine do; just looking for any excuse to indulge, I guess – in moderation, of course.

 

health benefits of red wine

health benefits of red wine

The good news is that there are some great red wine health benefits, and “moderation” seems to be the name of the game when it comes to answering the question: is wine good for you? Like anything else that we consume, drinking wine is no different; over-eating or over-drinking is never a healthy choice and it often comes with negative consequences.

But for those moderate wine drinkers, the health benefits of red wine are pretty impressive. Many studies have been done by universities around the world that have examined red wine and red grapes and their benefits to us. Let’s look at a few of these benefits.

Health Benefits of Red Wine and Resveratrol: Is it Heart-Healthy?

Red wine has something in it called “resveratrol” that has gotten the attention of the medical world as a potential benefit to good heart health. The Mayo Clinic has reported that the substance, resveratrol, found in the red grape, is a form of polyphenol, an antioxidant, and that combined with the alcohol in wine is thought to prevent certain heart disease by increasing the “good” cholesterol levels in our bodies, thus protecting the lining of our arteries and blood vessels from damage.

Another potential benefit of resveratrol is that the body is also at a decreased risk of having inflammation and blood clotting, both being high risk indicators of heart disease. More research is needed, however, before it’s known whether resveratrol is the absolute cause of the reduced risk.

Other research indicates that red wine health benefits are found in the prevention of Ischemic strokes.

health benefits of red wine

health benefits of red wine

The caveat to this is that to reap the health benefits of red wine, doctors caution us to drink in moderation, and if you are currently not a wine drinker, don’t start drinking red wine to reap the benefits. Having a glass of Pinot Noir with dinner, is one thing, but consuming more than a glass or two in a day will result in the wine’s alcohol content creating harmful effects to your body.

In general, the health benefits of red wine research has determined that those drinking 1 to 3 glasses of wine a day on a regular basis are healthier than those who drink no wine, and they are also healthier than those who indulge in more than 1 to 3 glasses.

Data gathered from medical doctors in the United States, who participated in a Physicians’ Health Study shows that over-consumption of red wine will cancel the red wine health benefits of those found in moderate drinkers by escalating the risks related to some less common forms of cancer.

Doctors seem to agree, however, that drunk in moderation, health benefits of red wine are reaped, and they credit it to the antioxidant, resveratrol.

Health Benefits of Red Wine Research in Heart Disease

Cardiovascular benefits of red wine

Cardiovascular benefits of red wine

Many universities have researched the health benefits of red wine, but most research into the antioxidant resveratrol found in the red grape was done using animals, rather than people. Mice that were given resveratrol showed signs that the antioxidant might also protect against diabetes and obesity, as well as its impact on decreased “bad” cholesterol levels and increased “good cholesterol levels.

Both diabetes and obesity are strong risk components of developing heart disease. However, again, the findings were only found in mice, not people. Additionally, the same dosage of resveratrol used on the mice in these studies, converts to a person having to drink red wine daily in the amount of over 63 quarts.

Health Benefits of Red Wine Comes from the Grapes

The resveratrol found in red wine is derived from the skin of the red wine grape used to make the wine. The reason that red wine has more of the heart-healthy resveratrol in its finished product is due to the fact that red wine is fermented with the grape skins intact longer than is done with white wine, allowing the wine to absorb more of the antibiotic.

Researchers have also noted that resveratrol appears to be produced in increased amounts in grape vines under stress, meaning that grapes growing in difficult growing regions, like Spain, Chile, Australia or Argentina contain higher quantities of it than that found in gentler growing climates.

Red or purple grape juices are thought to have a degree of the heart-healthy benefits found in red wine. Thus, just consuming the grapes or grape juice may be a nonalcoholic way of adding resveratrol to your diet. Other resveratrol-rich foods include blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts. However, the amount of resveratrol found in a food or a red wine can vary greatly.

Researchers have found that there is no harm in taking resveratrol supplements, but that most of resveratrol found in supplements cannot be absorbed by the body.

Health Benefits of Red Wine vs. Benefits of Other Alcohol

wine is good

wine is good

Various studies show that moderate quantities of any type of alcohol can benefit your heart, and the benefits are not just related to alcohol in red wine. Although if red wine appears to have the edge on health benefits when compared to other alcoholic beverages, such as white wine, beer, or hard liquor, it is attributed to the antioxidants in the red grape that is used to make the wine.

The alcohol content in red wine isn’t considered to have any greater heart-healthy benefits than other types of alcohol. Alcohol by itself (without the red grape factor) is thought to help:

  • Raise the “good” cholesterol in our bodies
  • Reduce the formation of blood clots
  • Prevent artery damage caused by “bad” cholesterol

While acknowledging the health benefits of red wine, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that no one should start drinking alcohol as a deterrent to heart disease. Alcohol can cause a number of health problems, and could be fatal if mixed with certain prescriptions. The over-consumption of alcohol is thought to cause:

  • Addiction
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • High triglycerides
  • Obesity
  • Certain forms of cancer
  • Weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • Heart failure

Red Wine Consumption and the French Paradox

Wine Benifits

Wine Benifits

The mystery surrounding the people of France and why their propensity for cream didn’t result in more frequent death’s by heart attacks is known as the “French Paradox” The answer is of course that the French consume a lot of red wine!

A Copenhagen study following 130,000 people over a period of 10 years found that those participants averaging 6 glasses of wine consumption a week had lower death rates of 30-40% below normal.

Red Wine Health Benefits Recap

The consumption of red wine in moderation has the potential to reduce the risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • High “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Blood clotting
  • Inflammation in blood vessels
  • An Ischemic stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Reduce kidney stones in women (we didn’t discuss it, but there are studies supporting this!)

We can rejoice in the knowledge that red wine in moderation is good for you, that the health benefits of red wine include heart-healthy antibiotics, leaving us to wonder no more “is wine good for you”, because that enticing glass of Merlot, Port, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc is good for you!

 

Food and wine pairing may seem like a big mystery to many people.

During the holidays there is often a debate about what goes well with turkey – red or white wine – forget about the type of red or white wine! Many people have the same debate when serving ham.

Food and wine pairing

Food and wine pairing

So I thought we’d look at some great food and wine pairing, and not just by your basic red or white wine but by wine type, because there can be quite a range of tastes in wine types that affect how they interact with the food.

I know that the phrase “interact with food” sounds rather inelegant, but the fact is that there is certain chemistry involved in food and wine pairing. Not that we are going to analyze the chemistry of wine, but suffice it to say there are sweeter wines, acidic wines, dry wines, etc., and they don’t all go well with the same food tastes.

Red Wine Food and Wine Pairing

Red wine connoisseurs enjoy many food and wine pairing options. Take a look at the following suggestions but you might find some delicious pairings of your own that you can easily add to the list. Don’t limit yourself, if you find that you enjoy a certain pairing, go with it!

Red wine Food and wine pairing

Red wine Food and wine pairing

Hint: most red wine tastes best when served anywhere from 58 to 67 °F, a range that is neither as warm as room temperature nor as cold as refrigerated temperature. This is a good rule of thumb for food and wine pairing as well as just enjoying a glass of wine all by itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a rather dry, medium or full-bodied wine with hearty, complex flavors. It typically pairs well with medium to heavy dishes like those with beef, goose, and lamb. It’s also delicious with cheese, like Cheddar and Brie. And chocolate, Cabernet is excellent with chocolate bars (milk or dark, but particularly dark) or desserts.

Merlot is milder and less tannic than a Cabernet; however, it still delivers complex, rich, even chewy flavors.  Merlot is a good choice for the medium or heavy foods like beef or lamb. It also pairs well with pasta dishes served with a hearty red sauce. It’s another great complement to chocolate, any way you want to serve it.

Shiraz is a little different grape than our Merlots and Cabernets because depending upon where it’s grown this wine can render different flavors and aromas; however, a nice Australian Shiraz pairs well with steak, wild game, and stews, as well as spicy food dishes like Mexican and Indian cuisine.

Malbec is a medium-bodied, dry wine that, because of its high acidity, is usually blended with other wines. However, a Malbec bottled in Chile or Argentina will pair well with roasted chicken and turkey.  It’s also a delicious complement to spicier dishes like those found in Cajun, Mexican, or Indian cuisine.

Pinot Noir is a light-medium bodied wine that pairs well with grilled foods, such as chicken, salmon, or lamb. Try it with wild game, goose, or a lighter beef dish. It’s also great with Japanese dishes, particularly sushi. Red sauce pasta dishes, perhaps on the less hearty end of the spectrum are also nice options.

Zinfandel is a hearty, spicy, jammy wine (if you follow that) and is known to go very well with food that is typical to America, such as burgers, pizza, and spaghetti (along with other red sauce pastas).

Sangiovese is your typical Chianti wine and is a good choice for pairing with Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, as well as pizza, and vegetarian eggplant parmesan.

White Wine Food and Wine Pairing

White wine and cheese

White wine and cheese

Let your taste buds be your own guide, but check out the following suggestions for wine and food pairing featuring a variety of white wines.

Hint: Most white wines taste the best when served somewhere between 45 and 50 °F.

Chardonnay is a popular semi-sweet, tangy wine that pair very well with white fish, salmon, tuna, chicken, turkey, and a variety of seafood dishes. It’s also delicious when served with a crisp green salad, quiche and Provolone, Gruyere, and Brie cheeses. Hint: try a food and wine pairing with Chardonnay and “caramelized onion and gruyere cheese quiche” – delish!

Riesling wines can run a broad range of tastes, making it a little difficult to pinpoint a “best pairing” for it.  But as a guideline, dryer versions typically go well with pork, chicken, and white fish dishes; a crispier, tarter, Riesling goes nicely with salmon and tuna, any kind of seafood, and a variety of Asian foods, including sushi. It’s also one of the few white wines that pairs well with chocolate.

An interesting note on Riesling is that in Ontario, Canada it’s used to make “ice wines”.

Sauvignon Blanc is another wine that can run in a wide range of tastes from smoky to crisp. This wine does well with seafood, poultry, pork, and salads as well as thick stews and dish made with white or cream-based pasta sauces. Try a food and wine pairing with this wine and Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo!

White Zinfandel is sweet and fruity and pairs nicely with green salads, cream-based pasta dishes, as well as lighter meals of fish, chicken or pork.

Gewürztraminer is a dry, sweet wine that pairs well with Asian food, sausages, and pork dishes.

Pinot Grigio is typically a dry, crisp, light white wine that can take on richer food flavors. Pair it with well-spiced vegetarian dishes (works well with eggplant), cream-based pasta sauce dishes, chicken, white fish, green salads, and eggplant.

Dessert Food and Wine Pairing

Desert food and wine pairing

Desert food and wine pairing

There are “dessert wines” and then there are wines that pair well with dessert. Dessert wines are typically very sweet with higher alcohol content than other wines – up to 20% in alcohol content. They are made for sipping after a hearty meal. Dessert wines include: port, sherry, madeira and masala. They are typically served in a small aperitif-style glass.

There are many wines that will go well with your dessert, but as a guide, the dark-colored, heavier desserts will pair well with your darker wines and vice versa light-colored desserts will go well with lighter wines. Wines that you might consider pairing with your dessert are Moscato, Gewürztraminer, and champagnes or sparkling wines like Asti Spumanti.

For more information about the individual wine types featured here please see my article on the Top 7 Red and White Wine Types found on this website.

If you’ve had other great food and wine pairing experiences and want to share, I’d love to hear from you!

 

If you love a good bottle of wine, you’ve probably spent time wondering How To Build Your Own Home Wine Cellar, attended numerous wine tastings, and scoured food and wine magazines to find new and interesting varietals to add to your collection.

And however small your collection may be, you probably have dreamed about having your very own wine cellar with room to build on to that collection. Perhaps you dream of hosting your own wine tasting parties in the wine cellar, complete with the requisite bread, cheese and fruit tray.

How to Build Your Own Wine Cellar for Storing and Aging Wine

Build your own wine cellar

Wine cellar

A true collector and appreciator of wine is also interested in the correct storing and aging of wine so that the vintage carries its characteristics, complexity, and quality from the time that you purchase the wine until you decide to uncork it and enjoy it.

Many companies exist that will install a wine cellar in your basement, an extra closet, or other unused space in your home, but the price tag on these installation may be more than you want to fork out. If you are any kind of do-it-yourselfer you may be better off keeping the money in your pocket and using it on your next ten bottles of wine, and learn to build your own wine cellar.

You’ll find numerous step-by-step instructions on how to build your own wine cellar across the Internet, but in reviewing the websites, I found that some were missing key elements of a true, quality wine cellar, one that will keep the wine at its best throughout its life or aging process. But there was one guide that I’ll tell you about, that covers step-by-step instructions for installing essential aspects of a proper wine cellar environment, such as refrigeration, insulation and vapor barriers.

If any one of these essentials is missing from your wine cellar you risk damaging your wine collection as well as the walls in your home. So you want to build the cellar under the direction of someone who understands the value of having a well-constructed, worry-free wine cellar.

After all, you want to get to the actual wine tasting and know that when you’ve pulled the cork from the bottle in front of the guests you invited to your wine tasting party that you won’t find a rotted cork, rancid smelling wine, or the like. You’ll want to dip your nose into a glass of wine with a beautiful bouquet that has been slowly aged to perfection.

How to Build Your Own Wine Cellar Cheaply and Easily

Build Your Own Home Wine Cellar is a do it yourself guide written by Chris Miley, a self-proclaimed oenophile. It’s an electronic guide that you can easily download after purchase.

The e-guide covers the full process of installing a wine cellar cheaply and easily, with explanations for the reasoning behind all aspects of wine cellar construction. The guide includes step-by-step directions that include everything you need for a custom-built home wine cellar:

  • Building a stud wall
  • Selecting and adding insulation
  • Installing a vapor barrier (prevents moisture damage to cellar and walls)
  • Installing wall lining
  • Selecting a door
  • Selecting and installing lighting
  • Installing a cooling unit

Also included in the e-guide are extra tips on topics ranging from inventory control and wine cellar management to wine tasting, to wine glass selection, and many interesting topics in between.

If you purchase the book, you’ll have everything you need to create a beautiful home wine cellar. The following tips for learning how to build your own wine cellar may prove useful as well.

How to Build Your Own Wine Cellar Considerations

Cellar Wall & Ceiling Covering

Build your own wine cellar

Wine cellar

The ceiling must have R-19 minimum insulation and a vapor barrier (read more on the vapor barrier below). The interior ceiling and wall covering material must be rot and mildew-resistant. A good rule of thumb when building a cellar is that the thicker the walls, the better the insulation, and the better the cellar will hold a consistent temperature.

Drywall green board is sometimes used and then painted with latex paint, redwood, or granite or other stone walls are attractive choices as well, all depending on the décor you intend for your wine cellar. Whatever you choose for your walls and ceiling, all cracks must be filled in. An expanding spray foam works well for closing off those cracks.

As a rule, Cedar is NEVER used because of its strong scent; it will taint wine.

The Vapor Barrier

To create a vapor barrier, install 6-8 mil plastic sheeting on the warm side of the insulation. Wrap the entire interior with the plastic, leaving it loose at a stud cavity because insulation will be set between each stud. To ensure a complete vapor barrier, all walls and the ceiling must be fully wrapped in the plastic.

Finished Wall Surface Materials

All paints and stains used on the interior walls and ceiling must be water-based and the cellar must be completely aired out after application and before adding wine to rid the cellar of odors that will affect the wine.

Wine Cellar Flooring Materials

Just about any type of flooring can be used in your wine cellar, accept carpet. NEVER use carpet. Good choices include slate, marble, tile, and vinyl. Carpet is prone to mildew and mold under the damp, cool, environment of a wine cellar.

If the wine cellar has a concrete floor on the ground floor of your home, you’ll need to seal the floor with a water-based sealant. And if you are going to lay vinyl or tile on top of the concrete, you’ll want to ensure that the sealant used on the concrete is compatible with their adhesive.

In addition, the concrete floor will need a vapor barrier applied to it, but may not need insulation. Above ground floors (like a second story wine cellar) need R19 insulation and a vapor barrier.

Wine Cellar Doors

Wine cellars with cooling systems require an exterior grade door of 1 3/4” with air-tight weather stripping completely surrounding all 4 sides of the door’s doorjamb. A frequent cause of continuously running cooling systems is due to the door not being properly sealed. Solid core, insulated, or double-paned, insulated glass doors are used most often. A sweep at the door’s bottom edge, or a threshold, is also very important to have in place.

Also seal around vents, light switches, pipes, and other places that might cause a breach in the air quality of your wine cellar. You can’t over-insulate or over-seal a home wine cellar.

Wine Cellar Cooling Systems

For a climate-controlled wine cellar, you will want to install a cooling system that will keep the cellar temperature between 55 and 58 °F and humidity at 50 to 70%. Many cooling systems come with built-in humidity management, but if yours does not, you may need to consider a humidification system.

Refrigeration requirements are determined by room volume (cubic area), climate and your wine cellar’s total R factors. Cubic area is calculated by: Width  x  Depth  x  Height.

Wine Cellar Racks

Wine cellar racks

Wine cellar racks

Wine racks or racking is available in a variety of wood and metal designs. Mahogany and Redwood are commonly used in wine racks as both are rot- and mildew-resistant. Wire lattice is sometimes used, as well. Again, Cedar should not be used because of its odor.

Wine Cellar Lighting

If your wine cellar has a recessed ceiling, air-tight “can” lights are popular, as is track lighting. To control brightness in the room, install dimmer switches.

These tips should provide a good start to learning how to build your own wine cellar, and for more information check out Chris Miley’s e-guide:

How To Build Your Own Home Wine Cellar

 

 Wine types are based on the type of grape used in the winemaking process, although wine labels sometime refer to the region in which the grape was grown rather than the grape itself.

 

types of wine

Wine Types

France is big on naming their wines after the grape growing region, and wine drinkers don’t much care which grapes are in the bottle, as long as the wine came from somewhere like Alsace, Bordeaux, and Champagne. That tendency is largely based on the fact that wine drinkers count on getting a wonderful tasting bottle of wine if it comes from a certain region.

However, the taste of wine depends very much on the grape or grapes used in the winemaking.

Leading Red Wine Types

Cabernet Sauvignon (ca-ber-NAY so-vin-yawn) is the name of the wine, as well as the grape, which is famous for being one of the world’s finest red varietals.

Cabernet SauvignonCharacteristics – Deep red in color, Cabernet is a beautiful medium to full-bodied, dry wine. It has a hearty, complex flavor evoking thoughts of black currants and blackberries.  Traditionally, the wine is aged in oak, which gives it an oaky, vanilla flavor. It has a particularly smooth, fine finish. Higher quality Cabernet ages very well for decades.

While perfect all by itself, Cabernet is frequently blended with the red wine types of Merlot, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.

Growing Regions – Cabernet grape vines are very durable and adapt well to a variety of climates. This grape is grown in wine-making regions all over the world, including, Australia, Chile, France, Canada, and northern California.

Merlot (Mer-LO) has become increasingly popular over the last 10-15 years. Due to its mellow taste and low acidity it is a good choice for those new to drinking red wine. Merlot is the name of the wine and the grape.

MerlotCharacteristics – Merlot is considered a bit softer and less tannic than other red wine types, like Cabernet. However, it’s still a complex wine, with rich, chewy flavors of plum and blackberry and hints of cherry and orange. Merlot is not suited for extended aging and is typically consumed immediately.

Merlot is an outstanding grape in a stand-alone wine, as well as when blended with other grapes, particularly Cabernet.

Growing Regions – The Merlot grape plant is grown in Italy, Australia, Chile, Romania, Washington State and California.

Shiraz (shih-RAZ) and Syrah (Sih-rah) are names for the same grape, with Syrah being used by European vintners. (It shouldn’t be confused with the Petit Sirah, a completely different grape.)

Shiraz wineCharacteristics – One of the darkest reds, Shiraz can be made as a fruity, sweet wine with plumy flavors or a dry peppery wine with notes of blackberries, licorice, and chocolate. Hints of toffee come from the wine’s aging in oak barrels.

Shiraz can be consumed immediately or aged up to 5 years.

Shiraz is frequently blended with Grenache and Cabernet grapes to make some fine wines.

Growing Regions – While the Shiraz grape most likely originated in the Rhone Valley of France where it has been used as a blend with other wines, it is Australia’s most widely grown grape and has thus become known as an “Australian” wine. However, Shiraz is also made in South Africa, as well as in some U.S. wineries.

Shiraz grapes cultivated in warmer temperatures tend to have softer plum flavors, while cooler climates give the grape spicy or peppery qualities.

Malbec WineMalbec (MAHL-beck), a black grape, thrives best in the hot dry summers found in Argentina and Chile.

Characteristics – Malbec grapes make a mid-bodied, rustic red wine, dry, with high acidity. Due to its acidity, it is most often blended with other wines.

Growing Regions – Malbec is Argentina’s most popular grape variety and is widely grown there. It is also grown in Chile, Australia, and northern California.

Pinot Noir (Pee-no na-wahr) is a delicious red wine made from a variety of black grapes that were originally grown in France’s Burgundy region. Some connoisseurs believe that these grapes make some of the finest wines in the world.

Pinot NoirCharacteristics – Pinot Noir is a challenging grape to grow, but with the right conditions, it produces an outstanding, complex wine. The wine is light to moderate in body, fresh, and delicate. It comes in an array of colors, from purplish-red to cherry-red, even turning brown during aging. It’s an earthy wine with varying aromas and flavors rich in worn leather, tea-leaves, oak, vanilla, and jammy, such as strawberry, raspberry, and plum.

Many Pinot Noirs are meant to be immediately consumed, but a good quality Pinot Noir can age for over 10 years.

It’s a stand-alone grape that is rarely blended with other grapes. However, Pinot Noir grapes grown in California are often used in rose wine types and champagnes.

Growing Regions – Pinot Noir grows best in cooler climates and is found in the vineyards in California and Oregon, as well as in Austria, and New Zealand.

Red ZinfandelZinfandel (Zin-fen-del) is one of the “American Classic” wine types, although the grape originated in Croatia and was initially made famous in Italy during the Roman Empire. Zinfandel came to California during the early 1800’s and there it has flourished into one of the world’s most versatile grapes. It’s used to create many wine types, from a rich red to a crisp white to a light blush.

Characteristics – Red Zinfandel wine is deep red in color, bordering on black. It’s a spicy, peppery, heavy wine with a hint of jammy or fruity flavors and aromas, evoking thoughts of blackberries and dark cherries.

Red Zinfandel is best consumed within a year or two, but some mellow well with age.

Growing Regions – Zinfandel is only grown in California.

Sangiovese (Sanjo-vay-zee) is at the center of Italian Chianti wines, traditionally brought to the table in a “basketed” bottle, and served with pastas covered in rich red sauces.

Sangiovese WineCharacteristics – Sangiovese is a black grape that creates medium-bodied red wine types that can be beautiful and complex, evoking various fresh and fruity flavors and aromas.

Sangiovese grapes are often blended with Cabernet.

Many wines made with Sangiovese grapes age well for almost 10 years.

Growing Regions – Grown as the “signature” grape of Tuscany and Chianti regions of Italy, it is cultivated elsewhere with limited success. However, some vines are grown in California.

Leading White Wine Types

ChardonnayChardonnay (Shar-don-nay) is a white grape used to make buttery, still wines, sparkling wine types and Champagne. It is the most popular white wine.

Chardonnay is loved by winemakers for its ease in growing and high yield and wine drinkers love it for its wide range of tastes.

Characteristics – Chardonnay wines tend to be voluptuous, velvety, and dry. Its citrus flavors, like lemon and grapefruit, and fruity melons are complemented with those of its oak barrel fermentation, including rich, creamy, buttery tones and hints of vanilla and toast.

Chardonnay can taste semi-sweet or tangy, light or heavy, depending upon where the grapes are grown and how it’s aged.

Most chardonnays are made for immediate consumption but some age nicely for 5-10 years.

Growing Regions – Chardonnays are grown in abundance in a variety of regions, including Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Moldavia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, California, Oregon, and Washington State in the U.S.

Chardonnays cultivated in cooler climates result in subtle overtones and those in warmer temperatures tend to be fuller and more flavorful.

Sauvignon Blanc (So-veen-yawn Blah) is a white wine, aka “Fumé Blanc” as it’s sometimes called in the United States, a name created Sauvignon Blancby Robert Mondavi to highlight the wine’s smoky flavors. The wine’s flavor and aroma can vary quite a bit depending on the growing region and fermentation process.

Characteristics – Sauvignon Blanc aromas and flavors can be smoky (light), herbal, grassy, with suggestions of bell peppers. It can also run the gamut, from evoking thoughts of unripe fruit, such as pears or apples to tropical fruits, like mangos, melons, and blackcurrants. It is typically a very light wine that tends to be acidic and crisp.

The grape is frequently blended with others, including Semillon.

Sauvignon Blanc should be consumed within a few years of production.

Growing Regions – Sauvignon Blanc is grown in France’s Bordeaux region, its place of origin, where it is blended with the dry Semillon grape. Other growing areas include New Zealand and Australia.

MoscatoMoscato (Mus-ket-o) is from the family of Muscat grapes, and is a common sweet, white grape. It is known by several names, like Muskateller, Muscat Canelli and Muscat Blanc. As its name might suggest, the wine types made from this grape tend to have a musky flavor.

Muscat is used in the well-known sparkling, sweet wine from Italy – Asti Spumanti. Due to the grapes sweetness it is often used to make dessert wines.

Characteristics – Muscat has a musky aroma with a citric or grapefruit flavor that is frequently sweet; a very distinct taste.

Growing Regions – Italy, France’s Rhône Valley, and Austria.

Pinot Grigio (Pee-know-gree-zo) is a white grape known by numerous names, depending on its growing region. In California and Italy it’s known as Pinot Grigio, while in Oregon it’s referred to as Pinot Gris. In France’s Loire Valley it’s called Malvoisie, and in the rest of the country it’s called Pinot Gris. In Austria it’s known as Grauer Burgunder or Ruländer.

Pinot GrigioThe white Pinot Grigio grape is actually a mutation of the red Pinot Noir grape.

Pinot Blanc is a further mutation of Pinot Noir and is not the same wine as Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris.

Characteristics – Wine made with these grapes can vary greatly in flavor, depending upon where they are grown, although they all have the characteristic mineral flavor. Italy’s Pinot Grigio usually is dry and light, but not sweet. California wines tend to have a richer flavor, finishing with citrus, such as lemon. French wine types tend to be more flowery and fruity, with flavors and aromas ranging from melon to grapefruit to peach.

Pinot Grigio is typically a dry, crisp wine with an acidic bite.

Some Pinot Grigio wine types improve with a few years of aging.

Growing Regions – Pinot Grigio is most extensively grown in Italy, as well as in California and Oregon, Germany, Austria, and Australia.

GewürztraminerGewürztraminer (Gah-VERTZ-tra-MEE-ner) A very fragrant grape originating from Germany where the name means “Spice Grapes”.

Characteristics – Gewürztraminer tends to be sweet white wine, which is sometimes dry. The aroma is an interesting mixture of spice and flowers. It is not deemed as lively as other wine types.

Some Gewürztraminers benefit from aging of 2-4 years.

Growing Regions – Gewürztraminer is grown in Germany, Alsace (France), and in smaller amounts in the U.S. West Coast, New York, and Australia.

Riesling (Rees-ling) is a white grape that is known by many names, such as Weisser Riesling, Riesling Renano, Rheinriesling, and Johannisberg Riesling. Rhine Wine is a Riesling.

ChRiesling Winearacteristics – Lighter than a Chardonnay, Riesling wines are typically complex and sweet wine types with aromas of fresh apples, florals, and honey. Some are musky and dry. The wine varies, depending upon the region. California Rieslings are dry with a melon taste, while German Rieslings tend to be more tart and citric.

Growing Regions – Riesling is a late-ripening white wine grape that produces a moderate yield. It can be quite difficult to grow. It does the best in Germany and in California, but is also grown in the Alsace region of France, in Austria, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

White ZinfandelWhite Zinfandel is made from the same red grape used to make Red Zinfandel. Winemakers peel the red skins off the grapes to make a lighter wine with a sweet flavor. This process also removes the heaviness associated with red wine types. Incidentally, this is the process used to make blush wine types.

Characteristics – White zinfandel is a pale, pinkish color that’s very sweet and lends itself to citrusy flavors, such as orange or grapefruit as well as hints of vanilla and strawberries.

White Zinfandel does not age well and is usually consumed immediately.

Growing Regions – See Red Zinfandel.

White Wine Types – Notes

 Any of the above white grape or wine types can have sweet, dry, still, or bubbly qualities, depending on method of winemaking and aging.

As you can see, there are a variety of wine types, all with their own unique set of characteristics waiting for you to explore!

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