Most of us aren’t even aware that there is a slowly-evolving list of “Classic Wines.”
Classic Wines are used to learn about wine. So, if you’re looking to improve your knowledge quickly, this is a great place to start!
Classic Wines typify a style or category of wine. For semantics geeks, they follow prototype theory, in being prototypical examples (or “perfect examples”) of a particular type of wine.
For example, those Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blends from the Médoc of Bordeaux are classic wines. They are prototypical examples of a regional style (e.g. French Cabernet) that’s produced consistently year after year.
Because Classic Wines are so consistent, they’re preferred and used by professionals to teach about wine.
This is the basic short list of Classic White Wines to know.
Albariño Taste Spanish Albariño from Rias Baixas and learn how it differs from Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, and unoaked Chardonnay.
Chardonnay Learn the different French Chardonnays, including Chablis, and how they compare to Australian and Californian Chardonnay.
Gewürztraminer Most educational programs focus on Alsatian Gewürztraminer only. That being said, the dry styles from Sonoma and Trentino-Alto Adige are more complex with subtle bitterness.
Pinot Gris Pinot Gris is one of the most difficult white wines to blind taste. Learn to taste the difference between Alsatian, Northern Italian, and Oregon Pinot Gris (Grigio).
Riesling Riesling is one of those varieties that’s so easy to blind taste that you should spend some time learning how to taste the difference between German, Alsatian (more dry), Austrian (riper German style), and Australian (more diesel vs petrol) Riesling.
Sauvignon Blanc Become familiar with the differences between oaked Sauvignon Blanc (from France or California) compared to those wines from the Loire Valley (think Sancerre) and New Zealand.
Torrontés Argentina’s highly aromatic white tastes sweeter from Mendoza and much more lithe and dry from Salta and Catamarca.
Viognier Most tests only focus on the extremely tiny Condrieu region in the Northern Rhône. Try something from the Central Coast region (Paso Robles, etc) of California to expand your palate.
While there are many more wines that could be considered “Classic,” this shortlist is what is considered fundamental knowledge for sommeliers.
Cabernet Sauvignon This is one of the hardest. Exams often pick Bordeaux, South Australia, Chile, and the entire US for blind tasting. Learn how this grape differs from Merlot in each area.
Gamay There really isn’t anywhere else to try besides Beaujolais. So, focus on identifying quality levels.
Malbec Get to know Mendoza Malbec like it’s your best friend. (It often is!)
Merlot Don’t let Merlot fool you! It’s easy to confuse with Cabernet Sauvignon and grows in all the same locations.
Nebbiolo Get your friends together and compare Barolo vs Barbaresco.
Pinot Noir Dive deep into the the many sub-regions of Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand. Watch our fun comparison of Oregon vs Burgundy.
Tempranillo Learn to taste the difference between Tempranillo, Cabernet, and Sangiovese. Practice tasting Rioja (of all levels) and Ribera del Duero.
Zinfandel Look to the American wines and learn to taste the difference between Paso Robles (fruity, canned peaches), Sonoma Valley (dry, mineral), and Napa Valley (rich, with volcanic overtones).
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Canned wines might have seemed gimmicky when the category launched — heck, brand names like Porch Pounder certainly didn’t help — but they’re absolutely here to stay. According to market research firm BW 166, canned wine sales rose 43 percent between June 2017 and June 2018. In January 2018, Nielsen reported the category was worth more than $45 million.
For the past two years, VinePair has scoured the landscape to find our favorite canned wines. As the sector continues to evolve, and an increasing number of brands get in on the action, we thought it was time to try some more.
Following an extensive tasting of more than 30 nationally available canned wines, we noted many similarities (both positive and negative) with tastings in years gone by.
If you’re the kind of person who gains just as much enjoyment out of a wine’s aroma as its flavors, canned wines might not be for you. When consuming directly from a can, it’s difficult to pick up the wine’s aromas — and, if you do, many are tinged with reductive notes of burnt matches and boiled eggs (once cans are sealed, no oxygen can reach the wine within).
The convenience of the grab-and-go packaging is also a double-edged sword. The vast majority of cans come in 375-milliliter servings, the equivalent of half a standard bottle of wine. Frankly, that’s too large a serving size in our opinion. The (less common) 250-milliliter and 187-milliliter cans are much more user-friendly and more brands would do well to adopt these sizes, even if it means spending a little more.
To come up with this year’s ranking, we judged the wines first on their flavors, given how difficult it is to judge aromas when drinking — as intended — from the can. Afterward, we gave them a swill in a glass so we could share some of their many delicious aromas with you. Finally, we ranked our favorites.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 canned wines for summer 2019.
Denver-based Infinite Monkey Theorem was one of the pioneers of the category, launching its first single-serve release back in 2015. Lightly carbonated, with vibrant aromas of raspberry, bubblegum, and ripe strawberries that continue onto the palate, Rosé Bubble Universe is the pick of the bunch from this producer. Average price: $14.99 per 4-pack.
Launched in 2018 by Thomas Pastuszak, the wine director at New York’s NoMad hotel, VINNY is a bubbly white blend from the Empire State’s Finger Lakes region. This gently sparkling white wine smells like a slightly candied Riesling, with pear and aloe on the palate. Size-wise, it’s a hit, arriving in slender 250-milliliter cans. Average price: $20 per 4-pack.
Santa Julia is one of Argentina’s largest certified organic wine producers. In February 2019, the winery released a line of three canned wines. We enjoyed them all but were particularly impressed by the rosé, which is made using 100 percent organically grown Malbec grapes. With an attractive blend of cranberry, strawberry, and raspberry notes, Santa Julia delivers clean-tasting, organic wine you can drink on the go. Average price: $5.99 per can.
The cool climate of California’s Arroyo Seco AVA offers one of the longest growing seasons in the state. This makes the region ideal for brightly acidic, citrus, honeyed Rieslings like this offering from Companion Wine Co. For those who think they don’t like Riesling because it’s too sweet, this is a particularly good pick. Average Price: $10 per can.
A grapefruit explosion on the nose is followed by notes of gooseberries and green bell peppers in this textbook Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. One of four canned Archer Roose offerings from four different international regions, this was, by some way, our favorite from the brand. Average Price: $16 per 4-pack.
California-based AVA Grace Vineyards delivers two delightful canned wines in some of the best-designed packaging we’ve seen. Our favorite is the rosé, which has notes of strawberry yogurt, strawberry compote, and tart rhubarb. The Pinot Grigio is also solid and bursts with mint, pear, and citrus notes. Average Price: $4.99 per can.
Ever wondered what minimal-intervention, “natural” canned wine might taste like? Meet Sans, a Napa Valley winery pushing the category’s boundaries. Truth be told, we found Sans’ lineup to be somewhat inconsistent, but were really impressed by this Mendocino County Zinfandel. Its expressive bouquet and palate included notes of white pepper, anise, red currants, mocha, and vanilla. It’s also the best (and only) red wine on this year’s list. Average Price: $30 per 3-pack.
This is classic Provençal rosé served in 250-milliliters cans that were custom-designed to take over your Instagram feed. Raspberry, mint, and peach notes mingle with creamy strawberry yogurt in this elegant rosé that just happens to arrive in a can. Average Price: $20 per 4-pack.
With lemon, green apple, and underripe stone fruit on the nose, and creamy malolactic notes on the palate, this wine smells and tastes like really good Chardonnay. Do we even detect a hint of minerality? Try it yourself and let us know. Average Price: $8 per can.
Despite the fact summer hasn’t even started yet, we, too, are already sick of the words “rosé all day.” But this canned wine ticks all the boxes. It’s bubbly, arrives in 250-milliliter pours, and is bursting with character. It tastes a lot more “serious” than its packaging suggests, with strawberry, raspberry, and lavender notes giving way to a surprisingly dry, crisp finish. At $15 for 1 liter of wine, it’s also an absolute bargain. Average Price: $15 per 4-pack.
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One of the biggest misconceptions about wines made with organic grapes is that they don't taste as good as conventional wines. Fortunately, this is not true! Wines labeled "made with organic grapes" are from organically tended vineyards. These grapes ripen just like regular wine grapes. And, they're made into wine in the same way.
So they won't taste any different from conventional wines.
Organic grape wines are also priced pretty competitively.
For example, we went shopping for Sauvignon Blanc and found two Chilean wines. The organically grown version was $12.99 and the non-organic version was $11.99.
Here are three interesting facts about wines made with organic grapes that suggest an improved human health impact:
1. Wines have reduced sulfites. (Conventional wines may have up to 350 parts per million vs. no more than 100 ppm for organic grape wines).
2. Grape growers are not allowed to use glyphosate (aka RoundUp). Napa recently banned the use of this chemical due to the potential carcinogenic hazards.
3. Winemakers are not allowed to use genetically modified yeasts for fermentation.
Of course, sulfites, glyphosate, and genetically modified yeasts haven't been proven to cause bodily harm in most humans. So, reducing intake is more of a helpful precaution, Either way, seeking out "wines made with organically grown grapes" will hit all those boxes.
Organic, biodynamic, and "beyond organic" (such as permaculture) farming techniques are leading the way to improve our soils, water, air, and wildlife quality.
One big impact we'll see in California if we move to more organic farming will be the increase of Monarch butterfly populations. Currently, weed killers destroy the butterflies' main source of food (milkweed) and their numbers have dwindled by more than 90 percent. :(
Still, it's important to note that organic farming is more difficult for several reasons:
1. Pest infestations and plant diseases are much harder and time-consuming to solve. They require creative solutions through patient observation.
2. Annual farming costs tend to be higher due to the need for more hands-on work.
3. Yields tend to be lower because of reduced chemical use.
4. Responsible land-use reduces the amount of land available for crop production.
The change starts with us, the wine drinkers. Our buying habits are what gives grape growers the incentive to make big changes to their farming programs. It's not going to happen overnight, but it can happen in the next two to three years.
Well, when we request and buy wines made with organically grown grapes, we incentivize farmers.
One way to start this wave is to change how you buy affordable, daily drinking wines. Make an effort to pick organic grape wines.
Whether you’re a casual drinker considering your first-ever wine vacation, or a seasoned oenophile seeking the next big thrill, there is a wine-soaked destination perfect for you. With nearly 100 wine-producing nations worldwide, however, deciding where to go can be tricky.
VinePair polled industry experts and had many spirited discussions to devise a list of wine trips for all sorts of travelers. Here are the eight best wine vacation destinations worldwide, as determined by budget, experience, and style.
Napa is essential to understanding American wine culture. It’s a barometer against which many domestic regions define themselves or measure their success. In a 1976 blind tasting, the Judgment of Paris, Napa’s wines were deemed as good as and, in some cases, better than France’s most prestigious offerings. It forced the international community to sit up and take notice of American wine. Now Napa is both an oenological powerhouse and tourism hub. Wineries offer tours, tastings, and meal pairings (advance reservations are necessary). The region is also home to global culinary landmarks like The French Laundry, plush hotels from heavyweights Auberge and Meadowood, and an emerging, fun-loving bar scene. Best of all? You don’t need a passport to get there.
Do you like your wine to contain notes of American history and subtle hints of revolution? Virginia is the destination for you. Charlottesville is home to Monticello, the historic house of Thomas Jefferson, which boasts its own vineyard (naturally) and a wine elevator in the dining room (awesome). If your love of American history knows no fiduciary bounds, the 48-room Keswick Hall and Golf Club in nearby Keswick has 48 guestrooms in a 1912 Italianate mansion. Jefferson Vineyards is a short drive down the road and offers tastings, accommodations, and delightful Viognier. Alternatively, you could head to Madison, Va., to visit Early Mountain Vineyards, and follow it up with a trip to nearby James Madison’s Montpelier, the founding father’s former home.
International airfare can be expensive. But with advance planning, and by following some simple steps, you can land yourself well-priced tickets. Compared to many European wine regions, Portugal’s Douro Valley is affordable. The Linha de Douro train means you don’t have to rent a car: It departs downtown Porto and traverses impossibly picturesque wine country, stopping at small towns with wineries along the way (tickets from €13.30). Portuguese winemaking is closely associated with rich, fortified reds, but we prefer its refreshing aperitifs, spritely whites, and accessible alternatives to the world’s top wines. And if you do manage to snag bargain flights and find extra room in your budget, you might consider putting it toward a stay in a giant wine barrel.
Known as the “cradle of wine,” Georgia’s winemaking heritage traces as far back as 6,000 B.C.E. Indigenous varietals like Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane are making waves in natural wine bars stateside, but it’s the nation’s skin-contact orange wines, made using traditional Qvevri, that will really appeal to wine geeks. The country’s best oenotourism takes place in Kakheti, home to such wineries as the Alaverdi Monastery and biodynamic Ruispiri. No visit to the Caucasus nation is complete without a stay in the capital Tbilisi, though. While you’re there, be sure to eat your weight in khachapuri, the region’s delicious, decadent cheese bread — another ancient delicacy many trend-seeking Americans are embracing.
No destination is more deluxe than the region that makes the world’s most luxurious wines: Champagne. Vineyards here are generally owned and operated independently from the major winemaking houses, which means visits to wineries usually don’t involve vineyard exploration; instead, they revolve around cellar tours and tastings (fine by us). Advance planning is vital, as you can’t drop in on most Champagne houses unannounced. Before arriving, you’ll need to make prior appointments and should also organize some form of transportation. Épernay is a good location for base camp. It’s home to a small handful of luxury hotels and many of the region’s best-known houses (Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët, Pol Roger, among others). Alternatively, Paris is less than two hours by train and offers more luxury than any one person could ever imagine.
Located at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, Marlborough is the country’s most important wine region and the production hub for its best-known wine export, good ‘ol Savvy B. But, seeing as how the country is roughly the same size as California, and that you may have spent more than 20 hours on a plane getting there, you should definitely explore once you arrive. Hit up Martinborough and Central Otago to check out quality Pinot Noir producers such as Ata Rangi and Chard Farm, and then head to the cooler regions of the South Island for aromatic Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer.
Didn’t know that Bolivia makes wine? Fair enough. The South American nation accounts for just 0.03 percent of the world’s annual production and, at press time, only five wineries export their bottles. That means your best opportunity to try Bolivian wine — which some experts are predicting big things for — is heading to the country itself. Near the southern border with Argentina is the main wine region, Tarija, which is home to the world’s highest-altitude grape growing. Plan to stay in the city of Tarija, which is best accessed via flights from the capital city, La Paz. (The alternative is a 14-hour, white-knuckle bus ride.) While you’re in La Paz, book a table at Gustu, an esteemed restaurant with an entirely Bolivian wine list.
In recent years, rosé has found a spiritual home on New York’s Long Island. Those looking to bottle Hamptons lifestyle refer to pink wine as “summer water,” and shortages of coveted bottles make headlines. Wineries on the North and South Forks of Long Island are increasingly producing rosés — in fact, Croteaux Vineyards, in Southold, exclusively produces Provencal-style rosé. Bridgehampton’s Channing Daughters has a varietal-specific rosé program, and Wölffer Estate, in Sagaponak, produces award-winning rosés and rosé-adjacent offerings, including canned rosé cider and rosé gin.
If you want to visit the actual home of rosé, you’ll need to book a flight to the south of France. Provence produces most of the world’s best pink bottles, including VinePair’s top two favorites of 2018, La Chapelle Gordonne and Jean-Luc Colombo La Dame du Rouet. At any point between April and October, temperatures are ideal for poolside sipping. If you want to avoid the crowds, however, it’s a good idea to steer clear in August.
You’ve been cooped up all winter, binging Netflix and carb loading like there’s no tomorrow. Except there is a tomorrow, and it just so happens to be the first day of spring.
For those of us whose ankles haven’t seen the light of day since the 2018 midterms, that means two things: Sandal season is just around the corner, and it’s time to get the Cavit on ice.
Ready to take the party outdoors (finally)? Here are eight ways to celebrate spring, each with the perfect Cavit pairing.
Not just any old picnic, of course. We’re talking beautifully spread Humboldt Fog, hunks of fresh bread, and spoonfuls of marinated artichoke hearts. You’ve waited all winter for this moment, so do the right thing and grab a bottle or two of the good stuff to wash it down. Cavit’s Pinot Grigio is America’s top pick for Italian Pinots. Just make sure you bring enough to last all afternoon.
Maybe it’s a mountaintop and maybe it’s a molehill — we’ll never tell. Handy sites like All Trails will help you find the right route. No matter how high you go, don’t forget to bring along a great bottle to celebrate hitting peak spring. We recommend making room in your pack for a bottle of Cavit’s Pinot Noir. Its delicate aromas of black cherry hit the nose like a field full of flowers.
Want a friendly reminder just how big and beautiful the world really is? Look up. Way up. A supermoon is right around the corner, due to hit March 21, and there are meteor showers aplenty in the spring forecast. Think of it as a front-row seat to Mother Nature’s greatest light show. Grab a blanket, a bottle of Cavit’s Prosecco — the 2018 San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge Gold Winner — and settle in for a dazzling night.
Not too long ago it was the dead of winter and having a dinner party meant your closest friends and family trudging through the barren temperatures to break bread around the table, a mountain of snow boots piled high and pooling in the corner. While we love a good roast and a glass of red as much as the next person, we love a light meal featuring all the spring season has to offer even more. Asparagus? Check. Fresh favas? Check? Cavit Rosé, the perfect accompaniment to everything from seafood to chicken? You didn’t even have to ask.
Even if you only make it to the backyard, consider this a cost-effective staycation! Add comfort and ease with an air mattress and an instant-setup, one-piece tent. And when it comes to packing the cooler, don’t skimp on the wine. We recommend a nice Cavit Pinot Noir, whose balance of red berries and cherries goes rather nicely with a fire-roasted s’more.
Nothing says spring like a floral arrangement packed with your favorite stems and bursting with color. Making it a DIY affair with friends is much more fun (and economical) than buying a pre-made bouquet. Pick up peonies from your farmers’ market while they last, and don’t be afraid to get a little funky by adding some aesthetically pleasing produce. Set the table with vases, glasses, and a few bottles of Cavit Oak Zero Chardonnay, and let the creative juices flow.
Obsessed with Marie Kondo? Spring’s the perfect time to spark some joy by cleaning out your closet. Then, host a clothing swap with your friends! Whatever you don’t trade you can donate to a local charity. Toast your hard work, extra closet space, and the power of community with a bottle of Cavit Riesling.
Whether you’re working with a full backyard or a tiny fire escape, planting and cultivating greenery is perennially rewarding. Your local hardware store can get you set up with everything you need, from soil to seeds. All you need to do is remember to water the little guys from time to time. Once you’ve got your garden in good shape, take a moment to enjoy the eventual fruits of your labor with a bottle of Cavit Pinot Grigio, which features its own fruit-forward mix of citrus and green apple.
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