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Episode 64: Wine 101: Your Crash Course In All Things Wine

Episode 64: Wine 101: Your Crash Course In All Things Wine

Have you ever found yourself standing in the wine aisle at the grocery store, overwhelmed by all the choices? Have you ever wondered "what the heck is a tannin and why should I care?" Have you ever wondered what the difference between a merlot and a cabernet is? Well, friend, you're in good company because most people feel self conscious about their lack of wine knowledge, but they're too embarrassed to ask these seemingly simple questions. This week we're joined by our resident wine expert who just so happens to be married to KA and he's answering all your wine questions. Tune in and soak up all the information you can and then go and impress your friends at your next party. 

Good, quality, cheap white wines (think $10-$12/bottle):

  • Dark Horse
  • Prophecy
  • Chateau Souverain 
  • Starborough
  • Whitehaven
  • Fleur de Mer

Good, quality, cheap red wines (same price point):

  • Apothic
  • Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet
  • Dark Horse
  • Prophecy
  • Chateau Souverain
  • William Hill
  • Allegrini Valpo
  • Gascon Malbec
  • Freakshow Cabernet or Red Blend

What's the difference between red wines? I can never remember which ones are sweet and which ones are dry? Same goes for white wines.

  • Reds (sweet to dry)
    • Pinot Noir
    • Shiraz
    • Malbec 
    • Zinfandel
    • Merlot
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Whites (sweet to dry)

    • Moscato
    • Riesling
    • Pinot Grigio
    • White Blends 
    • Sauv Blanc
    • Chardonnay
  • Sparkling

    • Spumante
    • Prosecco
    • Extra Dry
    • Brut


What’s the best, neutral, hostess-gift wine?

  • This varies from hostess to hostess. If she's a red wine drinker, cabernet is a pretty safe choice. For white wine drinkers, sauv blanc or chardonnay are always good. Luke suggests brining your personal favorite to add a special touch and maybe introduce them to a wine the may not otherwise buy for themselves.

How long can red wine sit on the counter re-corked?

  • 1-3 days is your safest bet for red wines. You might be able to get away with 4 days if it's refrigerated, but after that point, oxidization has already began and it starts to turn to vinegar. Don't worry, you're probably not going to die if you let it go past this point, but your stomach may not feel so hot.

What wines generally pair well with what foods?

  • Honestly, just drink what you like. If you want a glass of chardonnay with your steak, go for it. If you don't already like dark wines, pairing a glass of cabernet with a steak isn't going to magically change your taste buds. A good rule of thumb to abide by: red meat = red wine, white meat = white wine. Some specific suggestions include:
    • Creamy pasta + a buttery chardonnay (ones aged in an oak barrel)
    • Seafood + chardonnay 
    • Pepperoni pizza pizza + zinfandel 
    • Chocolate + cabernet 

What's the best wine to serve at a dinner party where everyone's tastes may not be the same?

  • Luke suggests going off of your personal preference because whatever isn't polished off, you'll be left with. If you buy a lot of merlot and you hate merlot, then it will just go to waste. With that being said, some of the safest bets are pinot grigio, sauv blanc, cabernet, malbec, or a red blend. 

Do people at the store really want to help you or are they going to look at you like you're dumb if you ask for help?

  • Absolutely. Just keep in mind that everyone, from the store manager to the brand representative, is going to have certain brands to push, but overall, they want to help you find what you're looking for. 

Should you decant wine?

  • It depends on the wine. This is typically reserved for tighter red wines that need to breathe (think: bordeaux, barolos, high dollar cabernets, amarones). Decanted wine also makes a great show piece so if you have a cheaper wine and you want to look a little fancier, go ahead and decant it and your guests will be none the wiser. 

How should store wine and what temperature should you serve it at?

  • Reds should be served at 65 degrees, while white's should be served at 55 degrees. If you don't have a wine fridge, never fear, just store your wine in a cool closet with the bottles lying on their sides. Another quick tip if you don't have a wine fridge is the 15 minute rule: pull your whites out of the fridge 15 minutes before you're going to serve and then pop your reds in for 15 minutes.

What the heck is a tannin?

  • Tannins are a naturally occurring element found in grapes. Science happens and tannins are what give a wine its dryness. If your mouth feels super dry after drinking a certain wine, it's high in tannins, or tannic. 

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