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Cork Connoisseur: A Quick Guide To Wines

"Ask April" Author of the best selling "Date Out Of Your League" at

A quick guide to wines

So you’ve got the job and the cash, and every night you’re out at one of the hottest restaurants in town. But, you know it and I know it, you’re living a lie. Each and every time you bring that wineglass up to your nose, inhale deeply, and nod your approval to the waiter, you think to yourself, in your most private of thoughts “What the hell am I smelling this for?”

So the gig is up, and it’s time to do something about it. Luckily, I can help. We’ll just start at the beginning.

Color and Variety

There are six basic types of wine: red and white, sparkling and fortified, fruit and rice. For now, we’ll just go over the two you’re most likely to imbibe: red and white.

Reds—These vary a lot in color, but less so in taste. Generally, a red wine goes best with a heavier meal, including: beef, pasta with a tomato-based sauce, lamb, etc. And though there are more to choose from, the most common types are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

5 Great Red wines under $50.00
1. Rosemount Shiraz: Australia
2. Chianti Ruffino Classico: Italy
3. Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot, CA
4. Stone Street Cabernet Sauvignon: Alexander Valley, CA
5. Marquies de Riscal Rioja Reserva: Spain

Whites—White wines can vary quite a bit in both color and taste, with the two usually corresponding. Look for a golden yellow color for your best bet, and drink with: cheese, fruit, chicken, fish and pasta.

5 White Wines Under $50.00
1. Santa Margherita Pino Grigio: Italian
2. Stags Leap: Chardonnay Napa Valley, CA
3. Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc: South Africa
4. Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc: Sonoma County, CA
5. Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse: France

What are you smelling?

Now that you know what type of wine you’re drinking with your meal, it’s time to know what it is you’re actually sticking your nose in the glass for.

The smell of a wine is a safe indicator of whether it’s in decent enough condition to drink. How to know if it’s not—it will likely have a sulfer, sour or musty smell. It can even smell like old laundry! If you’re not sure your nose is leading you astray, ask the waiter to either let it sit, or better yet, pour it into a carafe, wait a few minutes, and try again. If it’s still bad, tell the waiter the bottle has “been corked” and send it back.

Other tips to wine tasting

 Hold the base of the glass on the table and swirl the wine to bring out the bouquet.

 Always hold the glass by the stem (especially white wine) to avoid the warmth from your hand effecting the wine.

 When smelling, inhale deeply. Slowly take in the fragrance—the bouquet—of the wine.

Sincerely, April

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