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Wine Knowledge 101

Be the "Go-To Guy" when wine tasting.

Ok, so you want to be the big man in the group (insert appropriate silver back sounds.) You want to be the go-to guy, the in-the-know man of the crowd. You look at the wine list as everyone is expectantly looking at you. They are embarrassed to have ordered a Bad Cab prior to your arrival. Finally, the group’s proclaimed “wine expert” has arrived and they will finally get to enjoy a delicious wine of impeccable taste.

Aaaaahhhh! So many choices! So many labels! So many varietals! But, the group is counting on you. You can’t let them down. Worse yet, you can’t let the truth be known that you really don’t know that much more about fine wines than the rest of them. You, my friend, are in a real conundrum. Here’s the puzzle – What red wine will universally appeal to a variety of palates within a group of wine novices wanting desperately to enjoy reds, but not quite ready for a primetime big, bold red. One that will be smooth with some depth, easy on the tannins, but still a respectable member of the red family?

(Photo courtesy of Wiens Family Cellars)

Sangiovese! (san-ge-o-vay-zee)

You can’t go wrong with a Sangio! The Sangiovese is a medium bodied red – a Chianti with a fancy name. What I like to refer to as “A Gateway Red!” As a whole, the group will be quite pleased and sufficiently impressed with your selection and you will continue to enjoy your status as “resident wine expert.” Case closed. You saved the evening from becoming a wine novice’s nightmare! Bonus…you didn’t even have to defer to the snobbish server’s overpriced suggestion.

Since I offered a pronunciation key on the Sangio, let’s discuss pronunciations for a moment. Let’s talk about the relatively new kid on the block…the Meritage. Oh, I know it’s tempting to give it a romantic sounding French pronunciation, which you are more than welcome to continue doing. However, if you must know, the word is a made-up American word that combines the two words Merit and Heritage. Meritage was created to describe an American style Bordeaux because the French just really don’t like us to use their sacred wine words. So, next time you order a Meritage, order with confidence. “Tige” – not “Taj.”

Never feel embarrassed or intimated to ask a server or more knowledgeable wine friend about pronunciations. It’s all part of the journey. Enjoy yours!

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