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Varietals

Aglianico

First grown in ancient Phoenicia, then Greece, and finally Italy, the Aglianico (ahn-lahn-ico) grape, according to famed oenologist Denis Dubourdieu, has "probably the longest consumer history of all."  Its high tannins and acidity are evidence of its ability to age (and since it's been around since ancient Phoenicia, we bet that's true).

Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture - distinct scents of sweet vanilla and caramel mingle with fruity notes of black currant and blackberry to create a deliciously smooth wine

Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture - distinct scents of sweet vanilla and caramel mingle with fruity notes of black currant and blackberry to create a deliciously smooth wine


Barolo

Barolo is one of Italy's most prized and beloved wines. In fact, the varietal itself has a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation, which basically assures (a) its origin and (b) its quality. Grown in northern Italy's Piedmont region, the complex Barolo is comprised of nebbiolo grapes and ages just beautifully. 

Boroli Barolo- ripe red fruits and the heady scents of leather and tobacco on the nose; the palate delivers notes of blackberries, oak, vanilla, and even a little espresso, with firm, long-lasting tannins on the finish

Boroli Barolo- ripe red fruits and the heady scents of leather and tobacco on the nose; the palate delivers notes of blackberries, oak, vanilla, and even a little espresso, with firm, long-lasting tannins on the finish


Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon is synonymous with "red wine" in popular culture. Cultivated in almost every wine-producing country, as it's quite easy to grow, these grapes offer a wine that has noticeable tannins and acidity, helping the wine age quite well. A climate's growing temperature will greatly affect the tasting notes found in this grape, ranging from black currant in cooler climates to black cherry and black olives in warmer growing areas.

Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon - bold berry flavors, black currants, and a warm vanilla finish

Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon - bold berry flavors, black currants, and a warm vanilla finish

Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - super plummy, like blackberry jam, with luscious body, medium-lowish alcohol, and glowing tannins that are long on the finish. Young and bright, it mellows a bit if you let it open for 30 minutes or so

Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - super plummy, like blackberry jam, with luscious body, medium-lowish alcohol, and glowing tannins that are long on the finish. Young and bright, it mellows a bit if you let it open for 30 minutes or so

Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - scents of dark cherry and blackberry, subtly layered with warm notes of vanilla and flourishes of cocoa and sweet tobacco

Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - scents of dark cherry and blackberry, subtly layered with warm notes of vanilla and flourishes of cocoa and sweet tobacco

Lapostolle Casa Grand Selection Cabernet Sauvignon - a dark, purple color, with a medium mouthfeel carries a world of juicy stone fruits, like plums and cherries

Lapostolle Casa Grand Selection Cabernet Sauvignon - a dark, purple color, with a medium mouthfeel carries a world of juicy stone fruits, like plums and cherries


Chardonnay

Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, but now grown in every wine-producing region worldwide, Chardonnay is one of the most palatable wine varietals. Because it's grown in so many different climates, this light- to medium-bodied wine has quite a range of flavors and textures. Notable for its acidity, Chardonnay usually boasts flavors of apple, pear, and citrus.

Gnarly Head Chardonnay - This chardonnay offers heady flavors of citrus and pear and a touch of vanilla

Gnarly Head Chardonnay - This chardonnay offers heady flavors of citrus and pear and a touch of vanilla

Laguna Chardonnay -  ample bunches of honeysuckle and citrus on the nose; the palate boasts delightful notes of pear and lemon, and the tannins are pronounced, but not overpowering, and long on the finish. 

Laguna Chardonnay -  ample bunches of honeysuckle and citrus on the nose; the palate boasts delightful notes of pear and lemon, and the tannins are pronounced, but not overpowering, and long on the finish. 


Chianti

Grown in central Tuscany, from whence it derives its name, Chianti was once known as the wine that appeared in the classic, basket-weave bottle frequently found in Italian restaurants, though it now appears in sleek, modern bottles. Comprised mostly of Sangiovese grapes, Chianti is earthy and rustic, and its high acidity makes the wine a great accompaniment to food.

Straccali Chianti - a dry, medium-bodied red that has flavors of cherry and strawberry, with dried herb notes, with well-balanced acidity and tannins on finish

Straccali Chianti - a dry, medium-bodied red that has flavors of cherry and strawberry, with dried herb notes, with well-balanced acidity and tannins on finish


Nero D'Avola

Unless you closely follow Italian wine, chances are that the Sicilian Nero d'Avola (nee-ROH da-VOE-lah) may not seem as familiar as the venerable Chardonnay or Merlot. But this grape makes a wine that's dark, lucious, and very drinkable, and it blends well with other grapes. 

Cusumano Nero D'Avola - fruit-forward with firm tannins and plummy spice flavors

Cusumano Nero D'Avola - fruit-forward with firm tannins and plummy spice flavors

Duca Enrico - strong, round, well-balanced, with woody scents and a blend of ripe fruit, irises and spices

Duca Enrico - strong, round, well-balanced, with woody scents and a blend of ripe fruit, irises and spices


Merlot

Hailing from the Bordeaux region of France, Merlot is a dark-blue-skinned grape that produces one of the most popular varietals in the world. The softer tannin structure and a medium-bodied feel make Merlot a great blending partner with Cabernet Sauvignon. Complete with notes of cherry, cocoa, vanilla, and spice, there's no wonder why the Merlot is such a popular varietal.

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Merlot - intense aromatics of raspberry and blueberry lead to flavors of crushed berries, vanilla and leather, wrapped up in a soft, smooth tannin structure

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Merlot - intense aromatics of raspberry and blueberry lead to flavors of crushed berries, vanilla and leather, wrapped up in a soft, smooth tannin structure

L de Lyeth Merlot - a medium-bodied Merlot that fills the front to mid palate with fresh summer strawberries, blackberries, and plums

L de Lyeth Merlot - a medium-bodied Merlot that fills the front to mid palate with fresh summer strawberries, blackberries, and plums


Moscato

One of the oldest grape varieties in the world, the "Muscat" grape boasts over two hundred varieties that range in color from white to pink to nearly black. Known as "Moscato" when bottled in Australia and California, this wine is usually sweet with layers floral notes. 

Barefoot Moscato - fruity, sweet, and very refreshing

Barefoot Moscato - fruity, sweet, and very refreshing


Picpoul

Grown primarily in southern France, in the Rhone Valley and Languedoc regions, the Picpoul is a wine grape known for light-skinned and dark-skinned varieties that blend quite well. The most notable of the Picpoul wines is Picpoul De Pinet, a full-bodied white with a light chartreuse color. 

La Petite Frog Picpoul De Pinet - nice citrus on the nose, slightly tart with a little zing of grass and lemon on the palate

La Petite Frog Picpoul De Pinet - nice citrus on the nose, slightly tart with a little zing of grass and lemon on the palate


Pinot Grigio

Grown in Italy as Pinot Grigio, but known in France as Pinot Gris (given pinot for its pine-cone-cluster grapes and gris because the grapes often look gray), this grape can produce a fruity, almost tropical wine ranging in colors from golden yellow to light pink. In Italy, the grape is harvested early to cut some of the grape's sweetness, giving it acidic notes that delightfully balance the wine.

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio - light, crisp, and just delightful to drink; lots of candied lemon on the nose, with notes of grapefruit, ginger, and tiny bit of grass on the palate

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio - light, crisp, and just delightful to drink; lots of candied lemon on the nose, with notes of grapefruit, ginger, and tiny bit of grass on the palate

Sutter Home Pinot Grigio - with notes of honeysuckle and lime, this wine sports medium acid with a high-ish tasting alcohol content, rounded out with flavors of peach and cantaloupe

Sutter Home Pinot Grigio - with notes of honeysuckle and lime, this wine sports medium acid with a high-ish tasting alcohol content, rounded out with flavors of peach and cantaloupe

Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio - light and bright, with a honeysuckle aroma and citrus flavor of Meyer lemon, this Pinot Grigio was delightful alongside a spicy penne alla vodka

Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio - light and bright, with a honeysuckle aroma and citrus flavor of Meyer lemon, this Pinot Grigio was delightful alongside a spicy penne alla vodka

Kris Pinot Grigio - light and refreshing with enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, and hints of apricots, almonds, and honey

Kris Pinot Grigio - light and refreshing with enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, and hints of apricots, almonds, and honey

Maso Canali Pinot Grigio - crisp, with citrus and floral notes, the latter of which isn't overpowering

Maso Canali Pinot Grigio - crisp, with citrus and floral notes, the latter of which isn't overpowering


Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir grape is grown in cool regions the world over, but the grape's most famous growing place is in the Burgundy region of France. The name comes from the French pinot, meaning "pine" and noir, meaning "black," a nod to the grape's close fruit cluster in the shape of a pine cone and the grape's dark color. Fruity and complex, the pinot noir produces some of the finest wines in the world.

La Crema Pinot Noir - cherry pie aromas mingle with alluring cocoa, allspice and black tea notes, with flavors of pomegranate, red plum, and orange zest

La Crema Pinot Noir - cherry pie aromas mingle with alluring cocoa, allspice and black tea notes, with flavors of pomegranate, red plum, and orange zest

Mark West Pinot Noir - the fruit forward flavors of strawberry and cherry cola, along with soft tannins but a nice bite of acid, make this wine a great complement to meats of all kinds—cheeseburgers, bbq chicken, grilled salmon—as well as any cheese plate

Mark West Pinot Noir - the fruit forward flavors of strawberry and cherry cola, along with soft tannins but a nice bite of acid, make this wine a great complement to meats of all kinds—cheeseburgers, bbq chicken, grilled salmon—as well as any cheese plate


Prosecco

Hailing from just north of Venice, the Prosecco grape is an Italian white that lends itself to sweeter flavors. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco isn't fermented in the bottle; it's fermented in stainless steel tanks, which means you have to drink it pretty quickly — within three years of its vintage — to enjoy it at its peak. Prosecco's fermentation process also spells out a lower price for a delicious product: a good entry-level Champagne is usually around $40, whereas a good entry-level Prosecco will cost you about $14.

Zardetto Prosecco - deliciously creamy and bubbly, with peach and floral notes

Zardetto Prosecco - deliciously creamy and bubbly, with peach and floral notes


Riesling

Riesling is a sweeter grape varietal originally cultivated in the Rhine region of Germany, but is now grown the world over. Because of its terroir expressive nature, the taste of the finished wine will depend on the temperature of its growing climate: cooler temperatures yield notes of apples and tree fruit, while warmer climates yield citrus flavors. Though known as a sweeter wine, riesling grapes can yield a dry or semi-dry product.

Barefoot Riesling - a sweeter white, with notes of orange blossom and apple

Barefoot Riesling - a sweeter white, with notes of orange blossom and apple

Boundary Breaks Riesling- crisp and smooth, not-too-sweet, with lovely citrus notes

Boundary Breaks Riesling- crisp and smooth, not-too-sweet, with lovely citrus notes

Emile Beyer Riesling - a dry, fruity white with notes of lemon and a crisp finish

Emile Beyer Riesling a dry, fruity white with notes of lemon and a crisp finish


Sauvignon blanc

Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, the Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape that derives its name from the French for "wild white," as the grapes grew wild in the southwest French region. Typically consumed young, Sauvignon Blancs are cultivated in most wine-producing countries, and are lauded for their crisp, refreshing, dry profile. Raw fish lovers, rejoice: this varietal is one of the few that pairs well with sushi.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc - grass and tropical fruit are on the nose; the palate reveals low acid and medium alcohol levels with notes of kiwi, lime zest, and honeydew

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc - grass and tropical fruit are on the nose; the palate reveals low acid and medium alcohol levels with notes of kiwi, lime zest, and honeydew

Lonely Cow Sauvignon Blanc - with white peach and zesty lime aromas, this crisp Sauvignon Blanc tastes of candied pineapple and tangerine, followed by white pepper accents on the finish

Lonely Cow Sauvignon Blanc - with white peach and zesty lime aromas, this crisp Sauvignon Blanc tastes of candied pineapple and tangerine, followed by white pepper accents on the finish

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc - surprisingly refreshing, the crisp, green notes of citrus and pear complement each other quite nicely

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc - surprisingly refreshing, the crisp, green notes of citrus and pear complement each other quite nicely


syrah/Shiraz

Known as Syrah to the world, but Shiraz in Australia, this dark grape produces delicious medium- to full-bodied wines. Tasting notes vary widely on climate, going from blackberry, mint, and black pepper in the cooler to licorice, spice, and anise in the warmer. Syrah/Shiraz is used as a varietal but also blends well with several wines.

D’Arenberg “The Footbolt” McLaren Vale Shiraz, South Australia - rich and full-bodied with aromas of ripe blackberry and spice that mingle with minty peppery notes

D’Arenberg “The Footbolt” McLaren Vale Shiraz, South Australia - rich and full-bodied with aromas of ripe blackberry and spice that mingle with minty peppery notes

Four Sisters Shiraz - a medium-bodied wine with ripe, plump aromas and flavors of raspberries, plums and blackcurrants and background notes of spice and licorice

Four Sisters Shiraz - a medium-bodied wine with ripe, plump aromas and flavors of raspberries, plums and blackcurrants and background notes of spice and licorice

Layer Cake Shiraz - layered with rich blackberry, dark cherries and hints of dark, creamy chocolate ganache

Layer Cake Shiraz - layered with rich blackberry, dark cherries and hints of dark, creamy chocolate ganache

McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Shiraz - dry and fruit-forward, with raspberry, black cherry, plums, vanilla, and a touch of oak, this wine is a flavor powerhouse at a great value

McWilliam's Hanwood Estate Shiraz - dry and fruit-forward, with raspberry, black cherry, plums, vanilla, and a touch of oak, this wine is a flavor powerhouse at a great value

Mollydooker "The Boxer" Shiraz - elegant, beautiful, and full-bodied; creamy with massive powerful dark chocolate flavors; plum jam, mocha, licorice all sorts, plus raspberry, blackberry, coffee, spice, anise, and cigar shop. 

Mollydooker "The Boxer" Shiraz - elegant, beautiful, and full-bodied; creamy with massive powerful dark chocolate flavors; plum jam, mocha, licorice all sorts, plus raspberry, blackberry, coffee, spice, anise, and cigar shop. 

Killibinbin Sneaky Shiraz - a beautiful, deep garnet color, with loads of dark berries on the nose. It's got a light mouthfeel, with tannins and spice that sneak up on you (they do!) and play nicely with the young, plummy flavors of the wine

Killibinbin Sneaky Shiraz - a beautiful, deep garnet color, with loads of dark berries on the nose. It's got a light mouthfeel, with tannins and spice that sneak up on you (they do!) and play nicely with the young, plummy flavors of the wine

Taltarni Shiraz - rich, fruity, full of raspberries and cherries, complete with smooth tannins

Taltarni Shiraz - rich, fruity, full of raspberries and cherries, complete with smooth tannins


Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine, grown in the northwest Minho province. You may think the "Verde" in its name refers to the color green—not necessarily (the wine is usually the palest shade of vermillion). The "Verde" here indicates that this wine is intended to be consumed when it's very young—as in, two years after bottling. Lively and bright, some are slightly effervescent, thanks to a carbon dioxide injection inserted at bottling.

Casal Garcia Vinho Verdo- this wine istart: super crisp and citrusy, with a light hint of floral pineapple. It's a bit bubbly, too!

Casal Garcia Vinho Verdo- this wine istart: super crisp and citrusy, with a light hint of floral pineapple. It's a bit bubbly, too!


Zinfandel

Grown in more than 10% of California's vineyards, the Zinfandel is a dark-skinned grape that produces a robust red wine with prominent fruity notes and hints of black pepper and anise. Hailed as a Californian wine for the past 130 years, the grape's true origins have been mysterious until quite recently, when researchers discovered the grape's DNA can be traced to Croatia. 

7 Deadly Zins - This one blew my socks off--so light and friendly, with lots of concentrated fruit notes, spices, and black currant on the finish

7 Deadly Zins - This one blew my socks off--so light and friendly, with lots of concentrated fruit notes, spices, and black currant on the finish

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel - rich, dark berry flavors with layers of spice, plum, pepper and vanilla balanced by light hint of toasted oak

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel - rich, dark berry flavors with layers of spice, plum, pepper and vanilla balanced by light hint of toasted oak

Joel Gott Zinfandel - earthy on the nose, with hints of sage, rosemary, and plum—a bit fruity without being too jammy, thanks to some leather and tobacco notes. A little acid and silky tannins round out a nice, long finish. 

Joel Gott Zinfandel - earthy on the nose, with hints of sage, rosemary, and plum—a bit fruity without being too jammy, thanks to some leather and tobacco notes. A little acid and silky tannins round out a nice, long finish. 

Kenwood 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel- fruit-forward and balanced, with a nice touch of acidity and mild tannins. Surprisingly refreshing to drink with a meaty, white fish!

Kenwood 2011 Yulupa Zinfandel- fruit-forward and balanced, with a nice touch of acidity and mild tannins. Surprisingly refreshing to drink with a meaty, white fish!