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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

Ellie is a Political Science and Policy Studies double major at Rice University, with a minor in Politics, Law and Social Thought. She spent the spring of 2017 studying/interning in London, and hopes to return to England for grad school. Academically, Ellie's passion lies in evaluating policies that further the causes of gender equality, LGBT rights, and access to satisfactory healthcare, specifically as it pertains to women's health and mental health. She also loves feminist memoirs, eighteenth-century history, old bookstores, and new places. She's continuously inspired by the many strong females in her life, and is an unequivocal proponent of women supporting women.
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