Your Comprehensive Wine Guide

A cheat sheet to the notes, flavors, and structural elements of some of the more popular wines.

White wines

Venetian Pinot Grigio: clear, green apple, slate, minerality, salinity, med+ acidity, med- alcohol

Alsatian Pinot Gris: clear (straw), caramel, charred oak, pear, less sour than above, white flowers, med. acidity, low alcohol

Chablis: clear (pale straw), bright, apple, citrus, floral, cheesy, yeasty, chalk, minerals, med+ acidity, low alcohol

California Chardonnay: golden yellow, pear, melon, vanilla, caramel, med- to med. acidity, med- to med. alcohol

Alsatian Riesling: pale, yellow, citrus, green apple, wax, rubber, petrol, no wood, grape, lemon, mineral, med+ acidity, low alcohol

German Riesling: pale, green apple, chalk, no wood, orange blossom, off-dry (sweet), med+ acidity, low alcohol

Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc: clear (not so yellow), green apple, sea salt, bready/yeasty, citrus rind, very dry, med+ acidity, med- to med. alcohol 

Marlborough (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc: pale, strawlike, green honeydew melon, cucumber, asparagus, med+ acidity, med- alcohol, fruitier and greener than old world

Champagne: pale, green apple, chalk, biscuity, nutty, no wood, white flowers, dry, med+ acidity, med- alcohol

Prosecco: pale, green apple, lime, floral, no wood, extra dry, med+ acidity, med- to med. alcohol

Red wines

Red Burgundy (old world—more acidic, less alc.): red, translucent, cranberry, umami, savory, earthy, herbal, no wood, med+ acidity, med- alcohol

Willamette Valley (OR) Pinot Noir (new world—fruitier, more alc.): translucent, chocolate, no oak, cranberry

Left bank Bordeaux (more tannic): purple/red, blackberry jam, spicy, tart, woody, pencil shavings, dusty/rocky, med+ tannins, med- acidity, low to med- alcohol

Right bank Bordeaux: purple, plum, sweet aromas, coffee, leather, seatbelt, med. to med+ tannins

Chinon (Loire Valley Cabernet Franc): opaque, blackberry, plum, gravel, bell pepper, peppercorn, licorice, oak, soil, med. tannins, med- to med. acidity, med. alcohol

Rhône Valley blends: deep purple, blackberries, plum, smoke, pepper, hay, barnyard aromas, little bit of oak, red cherry, smokiness, higher alcohol (14%), lower tannins

Chianti: opaque, cherries, leather, maybe a little oak, blackberry, black pepper, gravel, dry, med. tannins, med+ acidity, med. alcohol

Super Tuscans: opaque, dark fruit, wood, vanilla, licorice, more oak than Chianti, cherry, pencil shavings, baking spices, licorice, med- tannins, med. acidity, med. alcohol

Rioja: med. bodied, med+ acidity, med+ tannins, high alcohol, cherry notes, all about oak and aging

California Cabernet Sauvignon: berry, currant and cassis or herbaceous, bell pepper and toasty oak aromas and flavors, ripe fruit, smooth, med. tannins, low acidity

Australian Shiraz (heavy manipulation/blending): red/purple, blackberry jam, rubber, smoke, buttery oak, spices, syrupy, umami, med. tannins