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w i n e types food pai r i ngs

Contents Intro to wines Merlot/Cabernet sauvignon Malbec/ Pinot noir Zinfandel/Sangiovese Barbera/Chardonnay Sauvignon blanc/ Semillon Muscat/ Pinot grigio Gewurztraminer/ Riesling

Red Wines There are a countless number of red grape varieties in the world, some able to make wine, others best suited for Welch’s grape juice. Right now, the world wine market focuses on about 40 to 50 different red wine grape varieties, the most widely recognized and used listed below. What differentiates red wine from white is first, the skin color of the grape, and second, the amount of time the grape juice has with its skins. After picking, red grapes are put into tanks or barrels where they soak with their skins, absorbing pigments and other aspects of the grape skin, such as tannins. This is how red wine gets its red color. The exact color, which can range from light red to almost purple, depends on both the color of the particular grape skin and the amount of time spent on the skins. Remember, the inside of almost all grapes is a light, golden color – it’s the skins that have the pigment. For example, much of Champagne is made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, both red grapes. Yet because the juice for Champagne is pressed quickly, with little time on the skins, the color of Champagne is often white

White Wines White wine differs from red wine in, first and most obviously, color. Under that skin, the pulpy part of a white grape is the same color as that of a red grape. The skin dictates the end color for red wine, which differs from the white’s color determinates.This is mainly due to the pressing of the grapes. When white grapes are picked, they are immediately pressed and the juice is removed from the skins with little contact. Color in white wine does vary, often from the type of grape, occasionally from the use of wood. Listed below are a few of the most common white varieties in the world wine market and of They are listed from lighter bodied, and lighter colored, to fuller bodied with deeper colors. The list is not set in stone – winemaker’s decisions and climate may affect the end result of a white wine’s body and color – we just give you the guidelines.

Red Wine

Cabernet sauvignon (Ca-burr-nay so-veen-yaw)

Food pairings: best with simply prepared red meat. Widely accepted as one of the world’s best varieties. Cabernet sauvignon is often blended with cabernet franc and merlot. It usually undergoes oak treatment.


Typical taste in varietal wine: full-bodied, but firm and gripping when young.

Food pairings: any will do.

With age, polyphenols polymerize: the grip fades away. The rich currant qualities of the Cabernet Sauvignon wine change to that of pencil box. Bell pepper notes remain.

Easy to drink. The softness of Merlot has made it an “introducing” wine for new redwine drinkers.

Districts: cabernet sauvignon is planted wherever red wine grapes grow except in the Northern fringes such as Germany. It is part of the great red Médoc wines of France, and among the finest reds in Australia, California and Chile.


Typical taste in varietal wine: typical scents include blackcherry, plums and herbal flavors. The texture is round but a middle palate gap is common. The Merlot type of wine is less tannic (rough) than Cabernet Sauvignon. Districts: a key player in the Bordeaux blend, merlot is now also grown in Italy, Romania, California, Washington State, Chile, Australia, etc.

Malbec (Mal-bek)

Food pairings: all types of meat-based meals. Malbec is often blended with other varieties such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot to make Bordeaux style wines. Malbec and some such blends may present some health benefits. Typical taste in varietal wine: malbec’s characteristics vary greatly depending on where it is grown and how it is transformed. Generally it produces an easy-drinking style, well colored wine that tastes of plums, berries, and spice. Districts: malbec has its origins in the French Bordeaux region. It is grown as côt in the Loire Valley and auxerrois in Cahors.

Pinot noir (Pee-know na-wahr)

Food pairings: excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, and lamb. One of the noblest red wine grapes. Pinot noir is difficult to grow, rarely blended, with no roughness. Typical taste in varietal wine: very unlike Cabernet Sauvignon. The structure is delicate and fresh. The tannins are very soft; this is related to the low level of polyphenols. The aromatics are very fruity (cherry, strawberry, plum), often with notes of tea-leaf, damp earth, or worn leather.

The smell of young wine is called an “aroma” while a more mature wine offers a more subtle “bouquet.

Yet pinot noir is very transparent to the place where its is grown. “The staggering range of wines produced makes it impossible and pointless to define which personality is the best expression of the variety”, as Craig Camp put it.

Districts: makes the great reds of Burgundy in France, and good wines from Austria, California, Oregon, and New Zealand.

Red Wine

Zinfandel (Zin-fan-dell) Food pairings: very much depends on the freshness/heaviness of the wine; tomatosauce pastas, pizza, and grilled and barbecued meats. Perhaps the world’s most versatile wine grape, making everything from blush wine (White Zinfandel), to rich, heavy reds. Typical taste in varietal wine: often a zesty flavor with berry and pepper. Districts: only found in California.

Barbera (Bar-bear-a)

Food pairings: barbera wines are versatile: they match many dishes, including tomato sauces. Not as popular as Merlot but with similar attributes. Typical taste in varietal wine: juicy black cherry and plum fruit, a silky texture and excellent acidity. You may wish to read tasting notes of Barberas at La Spinetta. Districts: another classic red of Italian origin. Widespread in California.

An Italian study argues that women who drink two glasses of wine a day have better sex than those who don’t drink at all.


Red wine, typically more than white wine, has antioxidant properties and contains resveratrol, which seems to be important in the cardio-protective effects of wine





Food pairings: a good choice for fish and chicken dishes.

Food pairings: a good choice for Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines.

Chardonnay was the most popular white grape through the 1990’s. It can be made sparkling or still. Typical taste of the different types of chardonnay: voluptuous. Chardonnay wines are often wider-bodied (and more velvety) than other types of dry whites, with rich citrus (lemon, grapefruit) flavors. Fermenting in new oak barrels adds a buttery tone (vanilla, toast, coconut, toffee). Tasting a USD 12 Californian Chardonnay should give citrus fruit flavors, hints of melon, vanilla, some toasty character and some creaminess. Burgundy whites can taste very different. Districts: chardonnay makes the principle white wine of Burgundy (France), where it originated. Chardonnay is versatile and is grown with success in most viticultural areas under a variety of climatic conditions.

The principal grape of Chianti - in fact, the principle grape of all of Tuscany - has had a troublesome past. Chianti may give thoughts of cheap read wine from a straw casked bottle, only drunk for the decorative candle holder it becomes. Typical taste in varietal wine: the primary style is medium-bodied with fresh berry and plum flavors. Districts: sangiovese produces the Chiantis of Italy’s Tuscany region and, of late, good wines from California.

White Wine

White Wine

Gewurztraminer (Gah-vurtz-tra-

Food pairings: gewürztraminer is ideal for sipping. It can fit Asian food, pork and grilled sausages. Gewurztraminer was first grown in Alsace around the 19th century. The grapes now cover roughly 20% of the vineyards in the region. Gewurztraminer replaced a grape called Klevener or Savagnin. Nowadays klevener wines can only be found in the village of Heiligenstein and around. Klevener is a dry white wine with slight spicy flavor while Typical taste in varietal wine: fruity flavors with aromas of rose petals, peaches, lychees, and allspice. A Gewurztraminer seems generally not as refreshing as other

Riesling (Rees-ling)

Food pairings: dry versions go well with fish, chicken and pork dishes. Riesling is one of the wine world’s “new” sweethearts, enjoying double-digit market growth and culinary affections worldwide. Its food pairing versatility and refreshing palate appeal are among the top reasons for this renewed love affair. Typical taste in varietal wine: Riesling wines are much lighter than Chardonnay wines. The aromas generally include fresh apples. The riesling variety expresses itself very differently depending on the district and the winemaking. Rieslings should taste fresh. If they do, then they might also prove tastier and tastier as they age. Districts: the classic German grape of the Rhine and Mosel, riesling grows in all wine regions. Germany’s great Rieslings are usually made slightly sweet, with steely acidity for balance. Riesling from Alsace and the Eastern U.S. is also excellent, though usually made in a different style, equally aromatic but typically drier (not sweet). California Rieslings are much less successful, usually sweet without sufficient acidity for balance.

Districts: gewürztraminer is best known in wines from Alsace, Germany, the U.S. West Coast, and New York.

Semillon (Say-mee-yaw)

Food pairings: Semillon goes with fish but there are many better matches. Serve dry Semillon with clams, mussels, or pasta salad. These wines are produced from overripe sémillon grapes. They are blended with sauvignon blanc to produce a syrupy, full-bodied wine that may be world class. Typical taste: the wine varietal features distinct fig-like character. Sémillon is often blended with sauvignon blanc to delimit its strong berry-like flavors. Districts: sémillon is the major white grape in the Bordeaux region of France. Sémillon is also known as Hunter (River Riesling), boal/ bual of Madeira, chevrier, columbier, malaga and blanc doux. Sémillon is also grown in Chile, Argentina, Australia, and California.

Sauvignon blanc (So-veen-yawn Food pairings: a versatile food wine for seafood, poultry, and salads. Charles Wetmore, founder of Cresta Blanca winery, brought the first cuttings of Sauvignon Blanc to California in the 1880s. Some came from the vineyards of the legendary Sauternes Chateau Y’Quem, world’s most expensive and famous dessert wine. Typical taste in varietal wine: sauvignon blanc normally shows a herbal character suggestthey require bright aromas and a strong acid . Districts: of French origin, sauvignon blanc is grown in the Bordeaux region where it is blended with semillon. The Loire valley and New Zealand produce some excellent sauvignon blanc varietals. Some Australian Sauvignon Blancs, grown in warmer areas, tends to be flat and lack fruit qualities.

White Wine

Muscat (Moos-cat)

Food pairings: Muscat shows best on its own: without food. Moscato d’Asti is a lightly sparkling (frizzante) variety of Muscat, made from the Moscato Bianco (Muscato Canelli) grape of the Piedmont region of Italy. This region has a DOCG designation, and is also known for the production of Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto d’Asti, and Asti Spumante. In Lithuania, it is also used for making a sparkling wine called Alita. Typical taste: often sweet and always fruity, with a characteristic grapefruity and musky aroma. Muscat wines are easily recognizable to anyone who has tasted a Muscat table grape. Districts: muscat grows in most vine-friendly climates, including the Rhône Valley, Italy (where it is called moscato) and Austria (where it is called Muskateller).

Pinot grigio (Pee-no gree-zo) Food pairings: versatile. Pale, straw-yellow or very light copper in color with a bright and flowery fragrance. Firm acidity gives Pinot Grigio a mouth watering appeal. Generally offers nice mid-palate balance with a short, clean finish. Typical taste: pinot gris can produce crisp, dry wines with good acid “bite”. Alsace Pinot Gris shows aromatic, fruity flavors that improve with a couple of years in the bottle. Districts: pinot grigio is planted extensively in the Venezia and Alto-Adige regions of Italy. It is called malvoisie in the Loire Valley. In Germany and Austria pinot gris is known as the Ruländer or Grauer Burgunder where it is used to make pleasant, young, white wines. Similar aliases are used in the german settled regions of Australia.


w ine typ e s fo o d p airin gs

Wine guide  

A wine guide I made for my design class.