I’m so tried of hearing “What wine should I drink with (insert food name here)?” Do you ask the guy behind the counter at McDonald’s what soda goes best with your Big Mac and fries? No you don’t, you pick what soda taste best to YOU.
The same thing goes for wine. First and foremost, no two people are going to have the same exact taste so its important to figure out what style of wine YOU like. This is fun and easy, all you have to do is try as much wine with as many different varietals and regions as possible. Then once you have a good idea of what varietal,region, and winemaking style you prefer. The question you should be asking is “What wine will have the right flavors to compliment the flavors of (insert food name) ?”.

As disgusted in How to Pick French Wine Part 1 French wines are heavily regulated and have their own way of classifying each vineyard and wine. There classifications would not be so hard to understand if France used one classification standard , but they don’t.  The good news is that there is an endless amount of books and websites about French wines. The bad thing is that most of the books and websites have so much unimportant information for an everyday wine drinker that we close the book before getting the answers. So what I have done is removed all the unimportant  information and just broke down the sub-regions classification.

The first Sub-Region we will go over is Alsace. Alsace is somewhat an uncommon region to see on a wine list, I say that because Alsace is predominantly a white grape region.  Grapes that are known to grow in Alsace are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blac, Pinot Gris, and Muscat, and a little Chardonnay. The only red grape that is planted is Pinot Noir.

5 Different classifications you may see on Alsace wine label

  • Vins de Table
  • Vin de Pays
  • Reserve
  • Grand Cru
  • Late Harvest

You will rarely see  Vins de Table & Vin de Pays since they are considered lesser quality wines and generally not sold in the US.

Reserve- can be labeled with just the vineyard name or have the vineyard name plus Grand Cru (we will go over what Grand Cru means i just a second). Also you may see labels with recerve personelle or reserve excetionnelle, but neither of these have legal definitions and should not be considered when picking a wine.

Grand Cru- is the highest level of classification of AOC wines from Alsace.   A wine bottle that is labeled with Grand Cru is supposed to be the best from the best vineyards and wine makers. … a side note – there are a few vineyards that refuse to take the Grand Cru classification even though the have been awarded the classification because they are not happy with how judging is process so it is important to try all classifications.

Late Harvest – is usually the most expensive of the 5 classifications. Producers may label with Vendange Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles.  Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine.


2008 Zafrika Pinotage, South Africa

  • Color- Ruby red
  • Nose- Plum, red berries, banana, earthy
  • Body- light/medium
  • Taste- light tannins, dry, plum, oak, ripe red berries

Textured Wine

Textured Wine (determining wine body)

The wines body is very important and will always be part of a wine review.  The body of  a wine refers to the fullness, weight and concentration and total mouth feel of a wine.  Wine’s body is mostly due to the alcohol percentage of  the wine.  A lower percentage wine (9% or lower) will generally be considered Light and a high percentage wine (13% or higher) would generally be considered Full.  The last wine body characteristic Medium, this can be a little different from just tasting a big full-bodied red wine or a light citrus white wine. You will often feel like saying Light to Medium or  Medium to Full.  Both of these are perfectly fine reviews of a wine and are often used. 

Here is a quick test that will help you with determining the body of a wine.

  • Step 1 – You will need 3 different wines. Each will need to be of a different body (full,medium, and light). You can use the above information to pick 3 wines or  ask for help at you favorite wine shop.
  • Step 2 – You will need water, skim milk, whole milk, and heavy cream
  • Step 3 – Place 7 empty glasses on a tabel
  • Step 4 – Pour water in glass #1, Skim milk in glass #2, Whole milk in glass #3, and Heavy cream in glass #4, “Light” wine glass #5, “Medium” wine glass #6, and “Full” wine glass #7.
  •  Step 5 – Taste glass #5, move the wine around your mouth. Try to feel the weight of the wine on your tongue. Now taste glass #2,#3,#4. After tasting each glass try to pick which milk or cream body reminds you of the wine (remember to cleanse your palate by drinking water after each glass tasted). 
  • Step 6 – Repeat step 5 with glass #6 and then 7#

     I want to start off by saying I LOVE WINE and the “art” of wine making.  But with that said, I would like to talk about my frustration with the wine industry in whole.  I took my first sip of wine a little over 2 years ago and immediately wanted to know more about wine and how to pick the best wine for my taste.   So I began to research wine and tasting as much wine as possible .  In the past 2 years I have ran across so many different books, websites, and ” Sommelier ” that did not give me the info that I really wanted and needed. I have spent hundreds of dollars on useless books.  I even spent $300 on a wine tasting kit, you know the one with the little scent tester that supposed to help you with determining the nose on a glass a wine. That was a joke, it would have been better to just flush $300 down the toilet. So after all the classes and research I have done i still don’t have the answer to my one and only question How Do I Pick a Good Bottle of Wine?.

Have you found the answer to this question?



2006 Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti (Italy)

  • Color- Ruby Red
  • Nose- Black pepper, Dark Fruit
  • Body- Med to Full 
  • Taste- Dry, Spice, Juicy ripe red berries, Black berry 
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