You may want to sit down for this: Thanksgiving is a mere week away! How crazy is that?! But ready or not, here it comes. Which means that both your menu and wine lineup need to start rapidly coming together. Even if you are not hosting (which makes life that much easier) you can still have a huge impact on the meal by bringing the right wines for your family and friends to enjoy. I mean, who doesn’t love the guy who rolls in with a few bottles of great juice?! Which then begs the question… what are the right wines to pair with a traditional Thanksgiving meal?
The great thing about a roasted turkey and all the trimmins is that there are a ton of wines that will pair well with the meal. It just depends on what style of wine you crew prefer. The one possible wine component you may…
There are just as many wine glasses shapes out there as there are wines. Here are some hints on how to select the right glass to enhance your pour.
Over the last decade or so, an abundance of wine glass shapes have hit the scene that range from basic and inexpensive to elaborate and exorbitant. While there are still variety-specific options for stemware (Cabernet Sauvignon/Bordeaux, Pinot Noir/Burgundy, Chardonnay, etc.), universal glasses seek to become the perfect choice for every wine style.
Whether your wine is red, white, rosé, sparkling or fortified, aromas play a pivotal role in its overall character. The smaller the bowl, the harder it is for all of those aromas to escape. Larger bowls allow for more oxygen to come in contact with the wine. They also lend themselves towards an easier swirl, which not only looks cool, when executed properly, will aerate the wine and help it open up.
Variety Specific vs. Simple Red or White
Over the last century, glasses have been designed for just about every major grape variety. Each wine style has specific characters in terms of acidity, fruit expression, tannin and alcohol, and the different glass shapes intensify or mellow those attributes. If your goal is to build a stellar collection, this is a fun route to travel. However, you can stick with a standard Cabernet, or red, wine glass for all red wines, and a Chardonnay glass for white wines, and not lose out on the intricacies of the wine. If you seek variety-specific glasses, here’s the nitty gritty for those stems.
Your traditional red wine glass. Cabs and Bordeaux tend to be high in alcohol and tannin. A larger bowl with more height creates more distance between the wine and the drinker, causing ethanol to dissipate on the nose and allowing more oxygen to encourage tannins to soften.
Slightly taller than the Cab glass and with a slight taper at the top, this glass is designed to focus the fruit and allow plenty of aeration to mellow tannins in these massive red wines.
The extremely wide bowl and tapered rim allows plenty of aeration, concentrates delicate aromas and showcases the bright, rich fruit.
Your traditional white wine glass. It’s meant for young, fresh wines, as the slightly narrow rim concentrates the nose of highly aromatic white wines. The smaller bowl size also keeps white wine colder than the large bowls used for reds.
Similar in shape to the Pinot Noir glass just smaller in scale, the wide bowl and narrow rim concentrates aromas and achieves maximum aeration on creamy white wines to reveal subtle complexities and offset rich fruit concentration. This glass is often confused with the Chardonnay glass.
The Champagne flute is all about the bubbles. It keeps the fruit and potential yeasty aromas focused with its narrow design, but also allows the effervescence to remain fresh and flow longer.
These wines are higher in alcohol than still bottlings. A smaller bowl reduces alcohol evaporation and highlights their rich fruit and complex aromas.
Stemless vs. Stems
While stemless glasses can be excellent options for everyday enjoyment, they may not be the best option for sipping higher-quality wines. They force users to grasp its bowl, rather than a stem or base, causing the wine’s temperature to rise due to heat from the hand. It’s not a huge disaster for reds, but can be for white wines. Fingerprints and smudge marks are also inevitable with stemless glassware.
Thin is In
The latest trend in stemware is a super-light, thin stem and lip of the glass. These elegant collections, like Zalto and Zenology, can feel like you’re barely holding a glass at all. Tasting rooms and top wine restaurants offer their finest wines in this style of glassware. However, they are as delicate as they are refined. If broken wine glasses are an epidemic in your home, you may need something a little more substantial, like Riedel or Fusion.
Ditch the Flute
Sparkling wine, particularly Prosecco, is now consumed more than ever. But wine lovers enjoy the aromas that pop out of the glass, which can be muted with the traditional, narrow Champagne flute. Though to toast with a flute is always popular, a white wine or universal glass is often the better option. If you search for a happy middle ground, a coupe or tulip-shaped Champagne glass allows bubbles to flow a bit longer than the typical wine glass, which enable more of the intense aromas to shine.
One Glass For All
If you don’t want to choose which glass goes with which wine, then the universal glass is the way to go. Sized somewhere in between a Chardonnay and a smaller red glass, it’s the most versatile option to enjoy all of your favorite wines, including sparkling! Growing in popularity, just about every glass collection offers a universal option.
Published on October 30, 2018
About the Author
MARSHALL TILDEN III
From his first sips of wicker basket Chianti at his grandfather’s dinner table to a 1986 Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertin, Tilden knew that there was something magical about wine. He earned his Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. Having been with Wine Enthusiast catalog since 2005, when he is not writing about wine he also runs the wine storage division and is head of W.E.’s in-house education program.
Warm weather doesn’t mean red wine has to go into hiding. We’ve compiled five styles of summer reds perfect with a bit of chill and an afternoon by the grill, for the next time you want to say “No way, rosé.”
While there’s nothing like rosé in the summer, if you’re outside enjoying wine on a warm evening, chances are there’s a grill a stone’s throw away. Hearty summer barbecue fare may mean it’s time to put down the pink and pick up a wine with a little more body, fruit and tannins. For your next picnic or cookout, shake things up with a slightly chilled, lighter style red.
Here are five styles of red wine perfect for when the grill starts to heat up, and top value selections for each.
Oregon Pinot Noir
Crafted in more of a Burgundian style than its neighboring California cohorts, these wines can be somewhat rustic and earthy, loaded with Bing cherry and cranberry. Their high acidity and complex structure make them enjoyable to pair with all sorts of seafood and lighter fare. With an overall cool and somewhat damp climate, Oregon can have notable vintage variation so be sure to check our WE vintage chartfor the best years.
If Finger Lake reds haven’t been on your radar, now is the time. While the Rieslingand Chardonnay get most of the attention, this northern New York region produces high quality red varietal wines as well. While Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are more common, Blaufränkisch is the unsung hero of the group. Exuding black fruits, earthy minerality and pleasant herbal notes, these wines are ideal for summer sipping.
No, not Beaujolais Nouveau, which certainly has its time and place. Cru Beaujolais is arguably the finest expression of Gamay in the world. The carbonic maceration—fermenting whole cluster grapes before crush—leads to a lighter, fruit-driven, lower-tannin style of wine. When crafted from grapes in top regions such as Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Morgon and Fleurie, you will find some of the most interesting wines in all of France.
Domaine des Marrans 2016 Fleurie; $21, 91 points. This is a ripe and juicy wine. Tannins support the generous layers of red-berry and cherry fruits and acidity. The wine has a succulent quality, spicy and fruity at the end. Drink from mid-2018. —Roger Voss
While you may know it as Zinfandel, Primitivo is one of the most popular varieties of the southern Italian region of Puglia. While value California Zins tend to be a bit bulky, Primitivo lean towards wild berry and black pepper notes with earthy and floral tones backed by vibrant acidity. These well-structured wines make a perfect pair for spicy barbecue ribs straight off the grill.
A Mano 2015 Imprint Primitivo (Puglia); $15, 88 points. There’s a surprising intensity to the aromas of fresh blackberries, turned earth and violets. The palate mirrors the nose in a package of grippy tannins and crisp acidity. While enjoyably straightforward in nature, the concentration is rather light, so enjoy for its immediate appeal. —A.P.
These sassy, zippy wines are brimming with delightful red cherry and red berry flavors backed by white pepper spice. Zweigelt’s high acidity helps create a wine ideal for chilling at your next summer soirée. The cool climate of many Austrian wine regions keeps these wines light and fun with immediate appeal.
Artner 2016 Klassik Zweigelt (Carnuntum); $14, 91 points.Aromatic pure cherry sends a message of pleasure and poise. This well-defined, precise and utterly fresh fruit blazes across the slender but dense palate that is outlined by freshness and verve. Purity is its virtue. Pleasure, seemingly, is its sole purpose. What a lovely, fresh and vivid wine. Best Buy.—Anne Krebiehl
A bottle of wine can open up communication and evoke emotion like nothing else in the world.
There are few things as dynamic, engaging and provocative as a bottle of wine. Contained in that bottle are the blood, sweat and tears of the hundreds of people involved in its production. The fact that it ages and has its own life cycle sets it apart from just about any other beverage. But it’s what can occur between individuals who share a special bottle that makes it so intriguing.
Just to be clear, I’m not advocating overindulgence. However, it sometimes takes more than just a sip, or even a glass, to open the doors of communication and set the human spirit free. Often, the last sip of wine is the best. It can take some time for a wine to open up and reach its full potential. But when you sit with a friend or family member and look forward to an in-depth conversation about life, the improvement and evolution of that wine is part of the overall enjoyment.
My parents were over for dinner last year, and I opened a bottle of Hanna 2013 Bismark Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It was young and opulent upon opening, but my dad and I agreed it was going to improve dramatically in just a short while. So as we sipped, we talked.
We talked about the wine, of course. But we also discussed the amazing playoff run the Yankees were on, and how the team compared to those of the late 1970s that we loved so dearly. We talked about how, a few years back, he had lost his passion for oil painting, but he had just started his first new painting in ages. And as we sipped, not only did the wine improve, but so did the content of our conversation.
As we enjoyed our last glass, my daughter came flying into the room to give him a big ol’ Grandpa hug. Filled with emotion, he wanted to make sure I knew that my daughter, his only granddaughter, had filled the void left when he and my mom lost their first child and only daughter shortly after her first birthday.
Of course, having my brother and I soon after that traumatic event certainly helped. But never having a little girl around had apparently left a vacancy in his heart and soul that was never fully repaired until now. And as we discussed this truly heartfelt and intimate revelation, we realized that the bottle was finished.
Ever feel like the pros at wine tastings are speaking their own secret language? In a way, they are. Learn the ins and outs of “tasting grids,” which set the standard for how we evaluate wines and the words we use to talk about them.
The tasting grid provides a guide for an objective description of a wine’s character and quality. While there are differences between various grids, they allow the taster to gauge a wine based on appearance, nose and palate, which leads to an unbiased conclusion of quality, age and development.
So how do wine tasting grids work, and what should you do when you approach a new pour?
The first step is to look at the wine against a white backdrop, like a blank piece of paper. This ensures that wines are not distorted by external colors.
In addition to the color, there are various levels of intensity to gauge. White wines gain color as they age, ranging from lemon and gold to dark caramel. By contrast, reds lose color and intensity with age, as they progress from purple to ruby to deep tawny. So while a typical aged Barolo might be described as pale or medium garnet (a hue between ruby and tawny), a young Australian Shiraz may lean toward deep purple or ruby.
Approaching the nose
Here’s where it starts to get fun. First, you swirl. Swirling allows for increased oxygenation, which can bring out more complex secondary aromas.
The first assessment is to determine if the wine is clean or faulty. Faults can include excess levels of brettanomyces, cork taint, volatile acidity or oxidization. Once you’ve determined a wine is free of faults, the next step is to gauge intensity.
Intensity is usually measured on a scale of low, medium or high. If you can smell a wine from a few inches away, it’s generally regarded as high intensity. If you must put your nose slightly inside the glass, that would equate to a medium intensity. Medium-minus and medium-plus cover the ranges in-between. If you can detect the wine’s aroma with the glass just below your nose, it might be considered medium-plus.
Aroma characteristics are where much obscure wine-geek jargon originates. Aromas of pencil shavings, cat pee, rubber hose or wet dog? The tasting grid tries to eliminate these subjective and eccentric descriptors with specific, standardized terms for each aroma cluster.
Evaluating the palate
The description of the palate, or what you taste, is by far the most in-depth category. A complete tasting note would include levels of sweetness, acid, tannin, alcohol, body and intensity. Once again, these are all graded at low, medium and high levels, with plus or minus used as modifiers for the medium range. Flavor characteristics and finish are factored in as well.
With flavor, the wine is to be described in terms of primary attributes like fruit, floral, herbal or spice. Secondary characteristics include oak, earth, and flavors that result from production techniques like malolactic fermentation and lees contact. Tertiary factors can be bottle age, oxidation and long-term fruit development. Just as with the aroma descriptions, fruit should be organized in clusters.
For example, a young Napa Cab could boast black fruit flavors (black cherry, blackcurrant), where a Sonoma Coast Pinot would more likely exude red fruit character (red cherry, strawberry and raspberry).
Once you’ve nailed down the flavor profile, determining the length of the finish and the wine’s overall complexity is the final step.
For the Court of Master Sommeliers’ grid, there are two conclusions to be drawn. The initial conclusion is to deem a wine as Old World or New World, examining the type of climate, possible grape varieties and country of origin. This gives way to a final assessment of vintage, grape, country, region and designation.
The WSET conclusion starts with an assessment of quality and readiness to drink. That leads to a similar final assessment of grape variety and origin, but also includes style and method of production.
While some variance exists between programs, the premise remains the same for any tasting grid. Dissecting a wine using a formal system based on sight, smell, taste and feel can be equal parts art and science, but the first time you’re able to guess a vintage or variety at a blind tasting accurately, the payoff is worth it.
If seeing really stunning wine cellars makes you too envious for words, than I suggest you DO NOT click on this link below… But, if you dig that cellar porn and want to check out a simply gorgeous showcase wine cellar video tour, then have a look here. Enjoy!
Wine has been a passion of mine for just about as long as I have been allowed to drink it. From the bottles of straw bottomed Chianti and Pere Patriarche Rouge on my grandparent’s dinner table, to a 1986 Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertin that my pops selected one night at Spark’s Steak house (my ‘epiphany wine’), it has always been a part of my life. The more I sipped, the more curious I became about everything that went into wine and what made it so damn tasty. Once I started working in the biz, I decided I needed to step up my ‘wine geek’ status a notch or two which was when I decided to enroll in the WSET. The Wine and Spirits Education trust is based in England with satellite schools throughout the globe and is one of the most recognized and respected wine education organizations in the world. They offer…