It’s the season to celebrate and what party is complete without wine? But choosing and drinking wine can be intimidating for the uninitiated. If you’re wondering about the best wines to serve at a party or to drink at a gathering, allow us to fill you in on the basics.
The earliest evidence of wine production was found in Georgia and dates back to about 6000 BC, proof of the staying power of this drink. Some of the terms you’ll commonly hear or read when it comes to wine are:
Body. This is defined by the Wine Enthusiast Network as “the impression of weight on one’s palate.” Wine can be light, medium, or full-bodied.
Bouquet. This is the overall smell of wine. It is synonymous with the term “nose.”
Dry. Dry wines tend to be less sweet as they contain less sugar.
Tannins. These are compounds found mostly in the grape’s skin and tend to give wine a bitter, astringent, complex flavor. A “tannic” wine tends to have a bolder flavor.
The usual wine variants are red, white, and rose (French for “pink,” which clues us in on its pinkish hue), although there are other wines such as fruit wines (which are those made with fruits other than grapes, such as apples). The classifications are typically based on where they’re from—as is common among European wines like Bordeaux from France and Chianti from Italy—or on the grapes that are used to produce them, which is common for non-European wines. Some of the more popular ones are the following:
Merlot. Still training your palate to appreciate wine? Merlot is a good place to start. It is one of the more popular grapes and tends to have a soft, supple, low-tannic flavor. It’s great for easy drinking and can be paired with meat but it’s also great on its own.
Cabernet Sauvignon. Think of it as Merlot’s big brother. Like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon first gained popularity in Bordeaux, France but tends to be bolder and more tannic, which lends itself well to aging. You can pair this elegant variety with a nice steak.
Syrah. Also known as Shiraz, it is grown in such places as the Rhone Valley of France and Australia. The Wine Enthusiast Network describes it as a “spicy, full, and tannic wine that usually requires aging before it can be enjoyed.” Syrah generally pairs well with grilled meats.
Chardonnay. This is the most popular white wine and comes from a green grape variety. Its origins have been hotly debated but it is now grown in many places all over the world, both in cool and warm climates. The flavor of Chardonnay can swing wildly depending on where it’s grown, with those produced in warmer climates developing a more tropical flavor. Try pairing a smooth Chardonnay with fish or seafood.
Aside from the usual selection of wines that are widely available, there are also some non-mainstream wines that you might want to consider:
Non-Alcoholic Wines. If you’re watching your alcohol intake but enjoy the taste of wine, then non-alcoholic wines are a great alternative. Try Wily non-alcoholic wines, which are available in Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Get a bottle at Healthy Options.
Organic Wines. These wines are produced from organic grapes, which means they are produced without chemicals. This can put your mind at ease, especially since grapes are part of the U.S. Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen,” the list of produce that have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticides. Adervm produces wines using grapes that are handpicked from organic vineyards in Spain. Available in Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay at Healthy Options.
Generally, sparkling wines are best served ice cold, white wines are best served cold, and red wines are said to be best served at “room temperature”—but some argue that room temperature in our tropical climate is a tad too warm. While there are many such “rules” and as many different types of glasses and goblets for wine, just remember that choosing wine is a lot like looking at art: The most important thing is to choose something that speaks to you. So be open to trying out different wines, choose something you enjoy, and drink it in a way that is pleasurable to you! Cheers!
Visit any Healthy Options store to find the perfect wine for you Christmas celebrations. Truly, there's something for everyone this Christmas. Note: Wily organic wines are available for pre-order.