Essential Wines: Your Guide to Stocking a Perfect Wine Cellar
Welcome to the world of wine! Selecting the right wines can be a thrilling yet intimidating experience, especially if you’re new to the diverse range of styles and flavors. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate through the fascinating realm of wine selection and build a collection that will elevate your dining experiences. From light-bodied whites to full-bodied reds, we’ll explore the essential wines that every home wine cellar should have. Let’s embark on this delightful journey together! To choose a wine for your special meal go to the Food Wine Pairings blog post to match your meal with the appropriate wine.
Light Bodied Wines
Light bodied wines, such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio, have a lower alcohol content and a lighter taste. These wines are typically more refreshing and are well-suited for warmer weather or as an aperitif.
- Riesling: Food friendly dry and sweet Rieslings are infused with tangy fruit flavors, most notably apricot and apple. Austria, Germany, Alsace, California, Washington, New York and Australia produce fine Rieslings.
- Gewurztraminer: Although grown mostly in temperate climes (California, Washington, Alsace, Germany), it evokes tropical spices and is a good match for spicy, tropical foods such as Thai dishes.
- Chenin Blac: Rich and ripe in the Loire’s Sauvennieres and Vouvray regions, these can be dry and finty elsewhere.
Medium Bodied Wines
Medium bodied wines, such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, have a higher alcohol content and a slightly fuller taste. These wines are versatile and can be enjoyed with a wide range of foods.
- Sauvignon Blanc: While this tiny grape finds sublime expression in Loire’s Sancerre and Pouilly Fume regions, splendid offerings also come from California, Washington, Bordeaux and New Zealand. It’s always tangy and often citrusy (lime, grapefruit), with more depth than you might expect from its opening crispness.
- Pinot grigo: Prevalent in Italy and recently (as pinot gris) in Oregon, this tends to be crispy, almond-scented wine.
- Semillon: A foundation for the great dessert wine Sauternes, this grape generally is blended with other whites.
Full Bodied Whites
Full bodied whites, such as Viognier or Marsanne, have a high alcohol content and a rich, full-bodied taste. These wines are best enjoyed with more flavorful foods, such as seafood or creamy pastas.
- Chardonnay: Rich fruit flavors are this grape’s hallmark, wherever it’s grown. Wines from Burgundy (Pouilly Fuisse, Montrachet, Chablis, Meursault) are generally crisper and softer than New World versions, which tend to be buttery and oaky (often to a fault) but still fruit-packed in California and Australia.
- Viognier and Sancerre: From the Rhone and Loire, these floral, opulent offerings are a real mouthful.
- Pinot Blanc: Alsace and California produce fionr renditions of this lush, pear and melon laced wine.
Here is a suggested dozen bottle wine cellar. Select and mix and match a bottle or two from each recommendation. A dozen bottle wine cellar will assure you will have a wine on hand to complement almost any meal or celebration.
Light Bodied Reds
Light bodied reds, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay, have a lower alcohol content and a lighter taste. These wines are versatile and can be enjoyed with a wide range of foods. They are also good for warmer weather or as an aperitif.
- Pinot noir: This cool climate lover finds its greatest expression in Burgundy, but central and northern California and Oregon are making.
- Barbera and Dolcetto: The first of these two Piedmont (northern Italy) staples is starting to move in a more full-bodied direction, but both are primarily friendly, simple wines.
- Pinotage: This berry-laden South African hybrid is often complex.
Medium Bodied Reds
Medium bodied reds, such as Merlot or Zinfandel, have a higher alcohol content and a slightly fuller taste. These wines are versatile and can be enjoyed with a wide range of foods.
- Merlot: Most California renditions are overly juicy and don’t compare to the heights that this plumy red reaches in Bordeaux.
- Sangiovese: This rustic, spicy, acidic grape is the base for virtually all great Tuscan reds (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino).
- Grenache: The bass for crisp, rich teauneuf-du-Papes and Riojas, this toasty, fruity grape is merely so-so as a varietal.
- Malbec: Argentina is producing hearty versions of what is mostly blending grape in the U.S. and France.
Full Bodied Reds
Full bodied reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, have a high alcohol content and a rich, full-bodied taste. These wines are best enjoyed with more flavorful foods, such as red meats or strong cheeses.
- Cabernet sauvignon: Bordeaux, Napa and recently Washington state have produced the most profound versions, but Sonoma, Chile and Australia are making marks with this rich, intense wine redolent of dark fruits.
- Syrah/Shiraz: Australia, California and the Rhone are nailing smoky, thick wines that are great young and age beautifully.
- Zinfandel: Berries, cherries and black pepper pop out in this northern California staple.
- Nebbiolo: The grape of Italy’s lush, toasty Barbarescos and Barolos hasn’t done well elsewhere.
All The Rest
The other types of wines, such as sparkling wine, fortified wine, and sweet wine, have their own unique characteristics. These wines may have bubbles, higher alcohol content, or a sweet taste. They can be enjoyed as an aperitif, dessert, or paired with specific foods.
- Sparkling Wines: Champagne from France, Cava from Spain, Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti, and Asti Spumante from Italy. Remember, only sparkling wines from the Champagne region can be called Champagne.
- Rosé Wines: An emerging trend, rosés combine the delicacy of white wines with the complexity of reds, providing succulent and delicious offerings.
- Fortified Wines: Port, Muscat, and Sherry offer higher alcohol levels and intense flavors, ideal for savoring as an aperitif or pairing with specific desserts or cheeses.
When selecting wines, understanding the body of a wine is crucial to enhance your overall drinking experience. By following this guide, you’ve embarked on a journey that will introduce you to a world of flavors and elevate your meals to new heights. Remember to explore food and wine pairings to unleash the full potential of your newfound wine collection. Cheers to building your essential wine cellar!
Now that you have a dozen bottle wine cellar, match your new found wines to your favorite foods Food and Wine Pairings.