So You Want To Be A Savvy Wine Geek?

By Melissa Mosher | March 1, 2020

So you want to be a savvy wine geek? To get started, you’ll first need to know the Big 6 varietals and their flavor profiles.

Below these famous 6 wines are listed in the order in which you’d taste them. Try hosting a get together with friends and have everyone bring a bottle to taste of one of these varietals to taste. When it comes to tasting, eliminate distractions and focus your awareness on your senses and the aromas and flavors you can identify from each.

There is so much history, versatility, and excitement behind each of these grapes. May this be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with wine. 

There is so much history, versatility, and excitement behind each of these grapes.”

Riesling

  • Best regions: Germany, Alsace, Washington, New York, West Australia
  • Flavor Profile: Citrus, Green Apple, Apricot, Petrol, Mineral
  • Style: This varietal is naturally high in acid and produced in several different styles. Some bottles actually have a sweetness meter on the back of the bottle which is helpful, however many do not. Expect a spectrum of dry, semi-sweet, and sweet Rieslings. The best rule of thumb is that when you purchase a Riesling from France or California, it will most likely finish dry. When you select one from Germany or Washington, you will more than likely have a sweeter style.
  • Pairings: Pair with something spicy like Thai food or Chinese, or a nice dessert such as cheesecake or a fruit tart

2017 Dönnhoff Riesling, Germany

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Best Regions: France, New Zealand, California, West Australia

  • Flavor Profile: Herbaceous, Grassy, Lemon/lime, Grapefruit, Melon

  • Style: French Sauv Blanc is typically dry, clean, minerally and light whereas New Zealand Sauv Blanc is big and bursting with aromas and flavors from pineapple to fresh-cut green bell pepper. Try a Sauv Blanc from California or Australia as they can be a harmonious medium with grapefruit, herbs and honeydew melon. Not too simple but not over the top.

  • Pairings: Salad, Vegetables, Goat Cheese, or as a Cocktail on the Lanai

2018 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Chardonnay

  • Best Regions: Burgundy, California, Oregon

  • Flavor Profile: Apple, Pear, Peach, Tangerine, Crushed Stone, Spice, Vanilla, Caramel

  • Style: French Chardonnay, for example, Chablis and White Burgundy, are focused and showcase the minerality and nature of the soil in which the grapes were grown. As for New World Chardonnay (mostly in California), you will find barrel-aged styles that are creamy, toasty, and buttery. These wines can be super satisfying and delicious and definitely have a huge following. Ideally, finding a Chard that is balanced with oaky, creamy and buttery notes but still has preserved acid giving the wine a refreshing finish is the way to go. Try wines from Central California, Maconnais, or Willamette Valley.

  • Pairings: Brie (soft buttery cheeses), Chicken, Meaty Fishes, Creamy Sauces

2017 Luminus Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA

Pinot Noir

  • Best Regions: Burgundy, California, Oregon

  • Flavor Profile: Earthy, Raspberry, Strawberry, Roses, Violets 

  • Style: Pinot Noir is an aromatic thin-skinned grape. Expect lighter in body than other red wines but pronounced earthiness, minerality, and terroir with underlying cherry. Some California Pinots can be overproduced and taste more like a Syrah- which is wonderful if that is what you are looking for- but again, balance is key. Burgundy or Bourgogne in France is the birthplace of Pinot Noir and the wines can be quite elegant and distinguished, however, prices are high. As an alternative, try Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon or even New Zealand- they tend to be on point. 

  • Pairings: Lean Meat, Truffles/Mushrooms, Salmon, Charcuterie

2017 Etude Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, CA

Syrah/Shiraz

  • Best Regions: Rhone, Australia, California, South Africa

  • Flavor Profile: Blueberry, Black Pepper, Violets, Spice, Boysenberry, Meaty

  • Style: So much to love here. Shiraz from Australia tends to be more full-bodied, higher alcohol, and rich, luscious and jammy. Syrahs from California and the Rhone Valley in France will be on the gamey side with peppery notes and beautiful undertones of blue and black fruit. Rhone Valley in France is where this Syrah is world-renowned. If you can get your hands on Cote Rotie or Hermitage – you will not be disappointed. 

  • Pairings: Lamb, Ribs, BBQ, Stinky Cheeses, Pizza

2017 3 Rings Shiraz, Australia

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Best Regions: Bordeaux, California, Chile
  • Flavor Profile: Red Fruit, Bell Pepper, Vegetal, Tobacco, Black Currant
  • Style: Cabernet is very distinctive – full of firm tannins, black cherry and bell pepper. It is the most widely planted grape worldwide and very well known to pair with steak and dark chocolate. Cab blends from Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabs are some of the best and most expensive wines in the world. When you taste a Cab from Napa, expect it to be rich, extracted and velvety. Cab from Bordeaux is tart, with pronounced notes of graphite and pencil lead and a firm tannic structure.
  • Pairings: Blue Cheese, Dark Chocolate, Steak (Protein Rich Foods)

2009 Acronicus Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Barbara, CA

The best part about all of these wine profiles is you can’t go wrong! Wine is all about discovering characteristics that fit your palette.

Let’s get tasting!

Looking To Try Any of These Varietals?

Visit us as D’Vine Kaila Wine Bar to do a tasting of any of these Big 6 wines. 

%d bloggers like this: