Pairing the right wine with your meal can be so difficult; there are so many flavors to balance and courses in the meal to consider. Scratch your head no more, we’ve asked for suggestions from a team of knowledgeable wine connoisseurs – big-time sommeliers, an at-home aficionado and an insider in the business.


    David Sokolin recommends:

    goop: I love salad with seasonal greens and often find that a strong vinegary dressing can really throw off the flavor of a great wine. Do you have any suggestions for a wine that can take vinegar on?

    David Sokolin:

    A: Pinot Blanc and Viognier are really good with salad. They are aromatic, rich and can stand up to vinegar. Hugel makes a great Pinot Blanc and my favorite Viogniers are from the Rhone and are called Condrieu. Guigal is a great producer of Condrieu, one of my faves.

    goop: If you’re serving a variety of appetizers that have ingredients like smoked salmon and raw onion, what might work?

    A: That’s a tough one since raw onion is intense. I’d try a dry Riesling which can be oily and rich enough for the onion.

    goop: What about Asian appetizers with spring rolls, prawn crackers, sesame toast, etc.?

    A: I like Champagne with this kind of food. The bubbles in the Champagne cut through the oils in the spring rolls and prawn crackers. I love pairing Champagne with food and use it all the time.

    Lately I’ve been into smaller grower Champagnes like Guy Charlemagne non-vintage for $39.95. It costs less than the larger brands and has a boutique, craftsman-like appeal that I enjoy.

    goop: When serving a cheese course with a strong, smelly cheese included, what do you suggest?

    A: I usually eat cheese after a restaurant meal and just stick with whatever I’m drinking. If I’m pairing wines with a stinky cheese it might be a Dal Forno Amarone or Valpolicella. They can really stand tall, but in general, I just go with what I would like to or am already drinking. Wine and cheese work together unless the wine is really light.

    goop: So many restaurants these days serve homey, rustic dishes; for simply prepared roast chicken and root vegetables, what’s a good choice?

    A: I find that Rhone wines pair great with rustic dishes since they are quite rustic and powerful on their own. Chateauneuf du Pape is the the perfect Rhone wine for these kinds of foods. Most restaurants love to carry them because the bang for the buck is there. They can run from $30 and up retail, and double that on a restaurant wine list. I’d suggest defaulting to them when eating out as a result since they are a fraction of the price of Bordeaux and the sommeliers love them.

    There are so many good vintages of Chateauneuf on the market right now: 2003, 2005, and especially 2007, which Robert Parker called the best vintage that he’d ever experienced in any wine growing region! These are super fun considering their low prices. We have a 2007 Domaine De La Milliere VV (old vines) for $33.95 that is exceptional.

    goop: What goes well with an Italian pasta in a tomato based sauce?

    A: For me Tuscan reds seem to work best with Italian food. It’s that old concept that wine and food from the same region work together. In this case it could not be more true. I think that the Sangiovese grape that predominates the region in Brunello and many so called “Super” Tuscan blends have the perfect acidity to cut through tomato based sauces. They just work together in ways that other wines don’t.

    I’m a fan of Brunello producer, Il Poggione. In 2004 Il Poggione produced one of the best Brunellos (rated 95 pts by Robert Parker), but doesn’t have the associated high cost that many associate with this region. It’s $54.95 and worth more, which is rare! The 2004 vintage is one to look out for across the board in Tuscany.

    goop: How about Pan-seared tuna?

    A: Any form of Chardonnay works with tuna and I prefer when it comes from France’s Burgundy region. White Burgundies are Chardonnay’s with acid structures that stand up to food and make each next bite taste better. That acid combines with tuna’s flavor to create a taste that is greater than the sum of its parts. The fun part is that white Burgundies can have both the richness/creaminess that people love about California Chards but also have this acidity. Meursault is the prime example of this great attribute. It’s buttery round, but fresh and light at the same time. I like the Meursaults of Pierre Boisson which sell for around $50 bucks. Not cheap but really worth it.

    goop: What about white fish in general?

    A: Same answer as above for fish in general. I love white Burgundies but there are lots that work. Another one of my faves that costs less and delivers a lot is Domaine de Roally Vire Clesse. The 2007 vintage was rated 91 points from Steven Tanzer which is kind of huge for a wine that’s only $22.95. It’s like a baby Puligny Montrachet, or better. I serve it at home all the time.

    goop: What’s a nice light wine for a summery meal of salads and a variety of grains?

    A: I like super crisp wines during the summer heat and Sauvignon Blanc fills the bill. I usually drink Sancerre. It’s crisp and mineraly and works with salads and most summer meals. It’s cheap too. You can buy the Rolls Royce of Sancerre, Gilles Crochet for around $25 bucks a bottle. Many others are $15-20. They smell like fresh cut grass, in the best way of course. Perfect for fans of white Burgundy who are branching out and beaching out too.

    goop: What are your favorite dessert wines?

    A: Sauternes are the perfect after dinner wines for me. The golden color and almost syrupy texture is the perfect complement to most sweet desserts, especially chocolate cake which I love. At the top of the hierarchy is Chateau d’Yquem, which can cost hundreds a bottle. The good news is that there are a few nearby neighbors that are just a click off of d’Yquem at a fraction of the price.

    2001 Chateau D’Arche is a perfect example. 2001 is one of the best vintage ever for the Sauternes region and D’Arche is a 95 point Wine Spectator wine that I once rated 97 points when I blind tested it. It’s close to d’Yquem’s quality and at $49 dollars it’s far off the price.

    goop: For meat eaters, what are a few great bottles to go with a steak or a big juicy hamburger?

    A: I’m a Bordeaux fan (along with the rest of the wine drinking universe). I love Lynch Bages, Leoville Poyferre (aside from the 1st growths), Chateaux Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Margaux and Haut Brion.

    One of the best values in Bordeaux is Sociando Mallet. I’ve heard Parker compare it to Chateau Latour, but nice vintages of Sociando (like 2003) can sell for $69 dollars, vs $1000 for the Latour.

    goop: Friends are constantly asking what to pair with pork and lamb, which have distinct flavors and are hard to match. What are a few good options?

    A: The combination of Lamb and Pinot Noir is a match made in heaven. It’s just about my favorite wine/food pairing. For me nothing beats red Burgundy. I recently had a 2005 Vincent Girardin Charmes Chambertin ($125 dollar Pinot from Burgundy) with Scotta Ditta and it was a sublime paring. The gaminess of the Pinot worked with the similar elements of the lamb. Result: I’ll be doing that again soon.

    Pork is an interesting question. I can go red or white. If white, I’d go big. Big fat Cali Chardonnay or even a Condrieu from the Rhone. For red wine I’d stick with a Rhone varietal like Chateauneuf du Pape which can also be great.

    Note: Many of the wines mentioned in these suggestions can be found on

    David Sokolin is a third-generation wine merchant, entrepreneur and President of Sokolin LLC, America’s Premier Fine Wine Merchant since 1934. Based in Bridgehampton, New York, his Company has one of the world’s largest and most diverse inventories of fine and rare wines for sale on As a published author and established authority on wine, his recent book “Investing in Liquid Assets” (Simon & Schuster - 2008), immerses readers in the sophisticated and sexy world of investment grade wine. David says, “While most of my friends were taking their first sip of beer from Dad’s mug, I was sampling my father’s 1961 Petrus.”

    Gregory Majors recommends:

    goop: Salad with vinegary dressing.

    Gregory Majors:

    A: Salads can be a tricky dish to pair with, the vinegar being a difficult element, as you acknowledged. So too can the greens, especially if you have some bitter chicory types like endive or radicchio. To tame these elements, I like to use high acid un-oaked whites, such as a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley or Trentino-Alto Adige (Northern Italy). The acid in the wine will help to quell the vinegar’s acid, while helping to cleanse the palate and not overwhelming the intricacies on the salad.

    goop: Appetizers like smoked salmon and raw onion.

    A: Again something with good acidity and un-oaked. A dry to off-dry German Riesling (Kabinett or Spatlese), or perhaps a “toasty” Brut Champagne

    goop: Asian appetizers.

    A: Alsace is your friend here. Gewürztraminer is the obvious choice, but I think a semi-ripe Pinot Gris from Zind-Humbrecht or Trimbach would be best.

    goop: A Cheese course.

    A: Sweet wine is always where I look. The idea is to match salty (the cheese) with sweet. With a stinky cheese, you’re going to need something with a fair amount of residual sugar. A German/Austrian TBA or a 6 puttonyos Tokaji would suffice (the latter being lighter on the pocketbook).

    goop: Roast chicken and root vegetables.

    A: For “rustic” food, think rustic wine. Italy is a good place to visit, especially the South: Campania, Calabria or Sicily. In Campania there is a grape I love called Aglianico, which is called the “Nebbiolo of the South” because it has similar characteristics to the famed grape from Piedmont: earth, leather, smoky and structured. Aglianico can be a bit tannic at times, so it’s best to search for producers from the Taburno area as opposed to the Taurasi area. From Sicily, wines from the Etna area, grapes such as Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are nice, and from the Southeast, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which is a 60/40 blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappatto. Finally from Calabria (which is the toe of the boot): grapes such as Magliocco and Gaglioppo. These sound funny, and are a bit difficult to find, but we are seeing more and more of them, both on wine lists and in the wine shops.

    goop: Pasta in tomato sauce.

    A: A red with a good amount of acid. Because tomatoes are acidic, you need something to compensate, for example: Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont, Toraldego’s from Alto Adige or an early 2000 or late 1990’s Chianti would be nice.

    goop: Pan-seared tuna.

    A: Depending on what you're serving with it, perhaps a dense Rose, a Provencal light red, or a 100% Frappatto from Sicily.

    goop: White fish.

    A: Obviously white is our first thought, yet it really depends on the variety or fish. For an oily “fish”, like sardines, something light and crisp: unoaked Chablis, unoaked Vermentino from Liguria, or Albarino from Northwest Spain. With more meaty fish that can be a bit “fishy” tasting, an oaked Chardonnay or a Northern Rhone white would work well. For adventurous wine drinkers, the oxidized whites of the Jura would be really cool. With more neutral flavored fish: sturgeon, cod, flounder, etc., it will ultimately come down to the garnish. But in general, I would recommend anything that is coastal: Languedoc-Roussillon, Friuli or Santa Barbara.

    goop: Salads and grains.

    A: I would suggest something herbaceous, like a Cortese from Piedmont (Gavi di Gavi), or perhaps a Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau in Austria (nothing over 12.5% alcohol).

    goop: Dessert.

    A: Tokaji from Hungary, PX sherry from Spain, and almost everything from the Wehlener Sonnenuhur vineyard in Germany’s Mosel region.

    goop: Steak or a Hamburger.

    A: I don't normally drink Cabernet, but for this I would recommend a semi-structured, semi-juicy California Cab from producers like Dunn or Corison.

    goop: Pork and Lamb.

    A: Pork: depending on the preparation, you could do white, like a ripe Riesling from Austria’s Wachau, Kremstal or Kamptal areas; or a Pinot from Gevrey-Chambertin or Pommard

    Lamb: Red Rioja (the gaminess of the lamb is complimented by the leatheriness of the Tempranillo), or my favorite, aged Barolo or Barbaresco.

    Gregory Majors is the chief sommelier at New York City’s CRU restaurant.

    24 5th Avenue
    New York, NY 10011-8858
    (212) 529-1700

    Andrew Marston recommends:

    goop: Salad with vinegary dressing.

    Andrew Marston:

    A: To take on the acidity of the vinegar you need a wine that can compete in the acidity stakes. I love the dry crisp grassy flavor of Sancerre or Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley. An equally good match is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or an Italian Pinot Grigio. Stay away from wines that have been aged in oak.

    goop: Appetizers like smoked salmon and raw onion.

    A:Dare I say this - lose the raw onion and enjoy the salmon flavor. A dry and crisp white or Champagne. For crisp whites I prefer a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Gavi, or Sancerre. For Chamapagne I prefer a Brut (dry) non vintage or a vintage that is not too old. Look for something around 5-6 years.

    goop: Asian appetizers.

    A: The wines of Alsace offer great flavors than can be paired with Asian or spicy foods. Dry Riesling, Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Gris will handle the Asian flavors very well. A Gewürztraminer has a very unique flavor of lychees and can handle spicy foods and curries very well.

    goop: A Cheese course.

    A: Often the best thing for a cheese board is to keep enjoying the wine that was served with the main course. Save the smelly cheese for last and serve with a Port or Sauternes.

    Port and Sauternes are too strong for the milder cheese, and the main course wine is too weak for the stronger cheeses.

    goop: Roast chicken and root vegetables.

    A: Pick big wines that will also warm you: Californian or Australian reds, Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

    goop: Pasta in tomato sauce.

    A: Chianti is really at home here.

    goop: Pan-seared tuna.

    A: A lot would also depend on the sauce being served with the tuna. Pinot Gris or Reisling (dry) from Alsace. White Burgundy or Californian Chardonnay that is not matured in too much oak all work.

    goop: White fish.

    A: For lighter flaky white fish I like a light Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This very much depends on the sauce as often the sauce is what you will have to pair with the food. For more meaty white fish like Seabass Pinot Gris or Riesling (dry) from Alsace, white Bordeaux.

    goop: Salads and grains.

    A: I like a nice chilled Rose wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. I also like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or a Pinot Grigio from Italy or California.

    goop: Dessert.

    A: Personally I like the wines from the township of Barsca which is within the district of Sauternes and a part of the Bordeaux region of France. I find them to be a little lighter than the wines of Sauternes. One of my favorites is Château Coutet

    • Eiswien always makes for an interesting change (grapes are picked and crushed while naturally frozen).
    • Coutet, (Barsac), 2006 $58
    • PMC, Eiswein (Burgenland) 375ml, 2004 $12

    goop: Steak or a Hamburger.

    A: With steak I like to go for something with a little more than just a plain Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. These five grapes are typically found in France’s region of Bordeaux where they have made some of the world’s best wines. In California, if two or more of these grapes are used, they are can use the term Meritage. In Italy they often add these varities to Sangiovese and call them Super Tuscan wines.

    goop: Pork and Lamb.

    A: Pinot Noir is a good match. It is one of the most wonderful grapes in the world when made well, and it's the sole red grape of Burgundy in France, which is unquestionably the best and most expensive. For the more budget conscious, look in the regions of Oregon or California.

    Note: The website has a great collection of wines, and will deliver to all states that wine can be delivered to.

    Andrew Marston has been a professional sommelier for over 10 years. During his career he has recommended and paired wines with menus for Queen Elizabeth II, dignitaries and some of the world’s most famous celebrities. He also served on the QEII ocean liner and tenured at the Setai Hotel luxury resort in South Beach - Miami, Florida.

    Aldo Sohm recommends:

    goop: Salad with vinegary dressing.

    Aldo Sohm:

    A: I’d use aromatic, crisp, and fresh style of wines with not too much minerality. I also keep an eye on the alcohol level because acid (from the vinegar) and alcohol are not the best of friends. This is the reason I’m looking for some aromatic fruit to put a little ‘make up’ on that. For example a Sauvignon Marlborough, perhaps the Coopers Creek 2008, or a Sauvignon Blanc, Montes from Chile 2008.

    goop: Appetizers like smoked salmon and raw onion.

    A: Onions and salmon are two quite specific flavors. In this case, I would use wines with a tiny touch of residual sugar (around 4 grams/liter), that are technically still on the dry side. I’m talking about a sweetness level like of many California Chardonnays. Another option you have is to go with is Champagne on a Brut level.

    goop: Asian appetizers.

    A: Asian appetizers are flavorful, often spicy, and garlic is a widely used ingredient. Here you need really aromatic wines with a lower alcohol level (high alcohol and the spicy hot flavor will turn to bitter). Go for a dryer style of German Rieslings such as Riesling Estate Schloss Johannisberg 2008. You can also easily go with a Kabinett Style Riesling. Or take a Muscat, such as Bonny Doon from Santa Cruz 2008

    goop: A Cheese course.

    A: If you mean cheeses such as a Epoisses, go with a Rhone style of wine, like a Cotes du Rhone, Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007

    For goat cheeses I prefer to go with a Alsatian Pinot Gris like Leon Beyer 2007

    goop: Roast chicken and root vegetables.

    A: That’s difficult to answer because these dishes have a broad range. In general I’d recommend these wines. You could go with a more elegant style of Pinot Noir such as Calera from Central Coast of California, or you could pick a Bourgogne Rouge from Nicolas Potel 2006.

    goop: Pasta in tomato sauce.

    A: I would take a red wine with fruit and freshness, such as a Chianti Classico from Felsina 2007, or also a Il Frappato, COS from Sicily 2007, a wine I tasted recently.

    goop: Pan-seared tuna.

    A: With the seared tuna itself I’d go either with a Shiraz/Viognier, Yalumba, Barossa Valley 2008, or pick an elegant version of Pinot Noir (but something not too earthy!!!). Here, I want to support the distinct flavor of the tuna.

    goop: White fish.

    A: I’m going very classic – white wine. Depending on the fish and sauce I stick with white burgundy and Chablis. I would recommend Chablis Fevre, France 2008 or if your budget allows, a Meursault from Boyer-Martenot 2007

    goop: Salads and grains.

    A: In the summer I’m always looking for light, crisp and mineral driven wines. It’s all about the refreshment and the lightness.

    I like to go with a Gruner Veltliner: crisp, fresh, clean and tasty. I would suggest Gruner Veltliner, Schloss Gobelsburg 2008 or alternately an Albariño, Lagar de Cervera from Spain 2008

    goop: Dessert.

    A: Personally I’m dying for old German Riesling: Trockenbeerenauslese (sweetwines). The only problem is that I cannot afford it all the time. Therefore I often enjoy a Tokaji from Hungary such as the Late Harvest from Oremus 2005, but lately I have tasted some interesting dessert wines from upstate New York produced by Hermann Wiemer. I was very impressed with the quality level they produce.

    goop: Steak or a Hamburger.

    A: For steaks I use wines with some power just to stand up to all the rich flavors and support the juiciness. I’d go with a Malbec, Catena from Argentina, or with a slightly more elegant version of Bordeaux such as the Croix de Beaucaillau 2004.

    For the big juicy hamburger I would personally go with a fresh and cool beer. In case you want to go a little fancier I’d pick one of the Belgium Ales such like Dupont Farmhouse Ale.

    goop: Pork and Lamb.

    A: Pork can be indeed challenging depending on the preparation and sauce. Generally speaking, I go with either an aromatic and fresh kind of wine (Vouvray Clos de Bourg, Huet, Loire 2007) or with a light fruit-forward red wine with some acid such like a Dolcetto, Oddero, Piedmont 2007. For pork you always need wines which have acid, just to cut through the fat content.

    For lamb, with its specific flavors, you also have to keep an eye on the sauce. Generally I prefer some red wines with some age and perhaps some tannins which the meat will absorb. Spain has a tradition of aging red wines before releasing them to the market. You can go perhaps with a Rioja, Viña Ardanza, or a Reserva from La Rioja Alta.

    An Austrian Sommelier, Aldo Sohm is the Wine Director at Le Bernardin in New York City. In 2008 he won the “Best Sommelier in the World” award from the World Sommelier Association. He is the first representative of the United States to do so.

    Le Bernardin
    155 W 51st St
    New York, NY 10019
    (212) 554-1515

    Patrick Keane recommends:

    The Internet has democratized and made wine discovery and buying extraordinarily easy and cost effective. I use a combination of Web sites and iPhone apps to purchase and find more information about my favorite producers, regions and varietals. offers a global database of over 16,000 merchants making price comparisons simply and elegantly. I pay $29.95 per year for access to their most comprehensive listings.

    Two very useful iPhone apps for wine discovery and pricing are RedLaser and WinePrices powered by Vinfolio. RedLaser is a barcode scanner that lets you search Google product search. You can apply this technology to wine, using your phone camera to scan bottle barcodes to make certain you are getting the best price. WinePrices is a simple database which allows you to search by vintage and producer.

    goop: Asian appetizers.

    Patrick Keane:

    A: To complement the juxtaposition of strong spicy and sweet flavors of Asian foods I recommend the outstanding Alsatian Riesling producer Zind-Humbrecht. Reasonably priced and arguably the top produce in Alsace. Their wines combine strong sugar and strong acidity to hold up to Asian flavors. Their 2005 Turckheim Reisling can be found for $27.50 at

    goop: A Cheese course.

    A: There are numerous schools of thought for wines to complement funky, fragrant, salty cheeses. For my taste I like the earthy often equally funky flavors of red Burgundy. Unfortunately the best burgundian Pinot Noirs are challenging to find at reasonable prices. I recommend 2 selections from the 2002 vintage: Domaine Jacques Prieur Grand Cru from the Clos Vougeot appellation. It’s pricey at north of $100 but the barnyard funky aromas and taste go nicely with strong cheeses. The Domaine Henri Gouges from the Nuits St. George appellation is less funky and still quite young but will also pair nicely with cheeses.

    goop: Roast chicken and root vegetables.

    A: For Roast Chicken I recommend a more fruit forward California or Oregon Pinot Noir. The strong cherry and fruit components nicely complement the saltiness and texture of chicken. Flowers is an excellent producer of on the Sonoma Coast. Their wines are reasonably priced and The 2007 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir can be found for $35 from numerous retailers online. Some of my other favorite California Pinot producers include: Dumol, Kistler, Aubert and Kosta Browne.

    goop: Pasta in tomato sauce.

    A: For me, Barolo is the perfect accompaniment to any pasta with tangy red sauce. The generally heavy tannins and silky mouth feel of the Nebbiolo grape were made for this kind of dish. While slightly lighter in color and structure Barbaresco wines also go nicely with pastas. Like the reds of Burgundy, Barolos from Italy’s Piedmont region are expensive and its younger vintages are generally not accessible today. Two of my favorite producers are Conterno and Vietti. The 2004 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is relatively inexpensive (by Barolo standards) and can be found under $40. When impressing your oenophile cronies splurge on an older Barolo. The 1997 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori Ginestra can be found at about $100.

    goop: Pork and Lamb.

    A: Barbera is one of more immediately accessible Italian grape varietals. It’s generally inexpensive extraordinarily fruit forward and flavorful and you can drink these wines young. Some might find the intensely ripe raspberry and black cherry flavors over the top for pork, but I think it’s the perfect accompaniment for a pan roasted bone in pork chop. Conterno and Vietti make a number of sub $25 barberas but my all time favorite barbera producer is Braida. The 2004 Braida Bricco dell Uccellone Barbera d’Asti is fantastic and can be found for about $50.

    Granache, the prevailing grape in the French wines of Chateauneuf-du-pape is a perfect match for the gamy taste of lamb. These wines are often high in alcohol and posses an equally gamy, earthy fruit driven texture. The venerable wine critic Robert Parker Jr. is often credited (or vilified by CDP freaks who complain about the resulting price inflation) with putting the wine of Chateauneuf-du-pape on the map. These wine represent some of the best wines and arguably offer the best value for any high end wine region or varietal. My favorite CDP producers include:

    • Chateau de Beaucastel
    • Clos de Papes
    • Pegau
    • Janasse
    • Single vineyard CDP’s can be tough to find and incredibly expensive. The 2005 Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be found online for $35.

    goop: Steak or a Hamburger.

    A: Prevailing wisdom for steak suggests a jammy and bold Cabernet Sauvignon. And while I too like a nice cabernet with red meat I would recommend selecting a granache based varietal from the Southern Rhone.

    Zinfandel is an excellent accompaniment to a charbroiled and pan fried burger. Zinfandel is arguably the most American of all wine varietals grown in the U.S. Red Zinfandel (stay far away from it’s white distant bland cousin) offers a tannic, peppery bomb of explosive fruit and high octane. These wines can approach north of 16% alcohol. Zinfandel also offers some of the best value available in wine today. One of my favorite producers is Ridge Vineyards. Ridge makes excellent cabernets and chardonnays but the winery made its bones with Zin. A great value, the 2007 Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel can be found online for about $17. Side note: The Ridge label design aesthetic is unparalleled in my opinion.

    Patrick Keane is a former senior executive with Google and CBS. He is currently CEO of Associated Content, The People's Media Company, a place where anyone can publish and share their knowledge and expertise with nearly 30 million people each month.

    goop recommends:

    The Four Graces

    I’ve tried a selection of wines from The Four Graces Winery and they are something special. A husband and wife team, Steven and Paula Black bought the vineyard in 2003 and named their business after their four daughters. Based in Oregon, which is earning a reputation for producing excellent pinot noir, - as it is on the same latitude as Burgundy - all their pinots are sustainably farmed. Plus, they cover the spectrum of prices and start at a very affordable $29. Their Pinot Gris starts at $18.

    Au Bon Climat

    I can’t get enough of Au Bon Climat’s Santa Barbara Pinot Noir from 2008. I keep constant stock of it in my home as it continues to be a hit with my guests. Au Bon Climat is produced in yet another up-and-coming American wine region, Santa Barbara County in California. Winemaker Jim Clendenen has received much recognition for his wines and it’s surprising they’ve managed to keep their prices so low. The Santa Barbara Pinot I like costs $22.48

    From Jim Clendenen:

    “For over 25 years, I have made wines with a very “hands on” approach, crafting them in an old world, elegant and refined style that improves with age. I have been blessed with the respect of my peers and loyal wine enthusiasts, who now to my surprise includes Gwyneth Paltrow. I get to do what I love and hope you get as much enjoyment from my wines as I have in making them.”

    Glossary of Wine Terminology from

    Tasting wine is fun and relaxing. So why are wine tasting terms often so confusing and intimidating? It need not be the case!

    Here are the quick-tips on some commonly used, but often misunderstood, wine tasting descriptors and terms. They can also be found in the glossary of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips™ (Adam’s Media, October 2008).

    If you have any questions about these terms or any others, you can always feel free to email us for wine help or advice at Or, if you’d like to keep enjoying a daily dose of wine knowledge, feel free to sign up for our daily email newsletter on all things wine called The Daily Sip™.


    Alyssa Rapp & Kim Donaldson

    Tasting Terms, Excerpts from the Glossary of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips™ (Adam’s Media, October 2008).

    American Viticultural Area (AVA) - The controlled appellation system used in the United States. Defined as a specified grape-growing region distinguished by geographical features.

    Appellation - An official designation for a wine, based on its specific geographical origin.

    Aroma - The scents of a wine, also referred to as the “nose” or “bouquet” of the wine.

    Balance - A reference to the harmonious relationship between the acids, alcohol, tannins, and other compounds in wine. A wine that is well balanced has a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

    Barrique - The French word for barrel, it is used worldwide to describe any small oak cask.

    Biodynamic - A method of farming without the use of chemical sprays, synthetic sprays, or fertilizers and a minimal use of filtration and sulfur. Biodynamic wine is vinified with natural yeast.

    Blanc de Blanc - “White of whites,” meaning that the wine is made from white wine grapes. Typically, Blanc de Blanc refers to a Champagne made exclusively of the Chardonnay grape.

    Blanc de Noir - “White of blacks,” describing a white wine made from “black” or purple grapes. Typically, Blanc de Noir refers to a Champagne made exclusively of the Pinot Noir grape. (The reason it doesn’t end up “pink” or “red” is that after the grapes are pressed, they are immediately taken off the skins.)

    Body - The impression of weight or fullness on the palate; usually the result of a combination of glycerin, alcohol, and sugar. Commonly expressed as full-bodied, medium-bodied, medium-weight, or light-bodied.

    Brix - A measurement of the sugar content in grapes, must, or wine. The level of brix indicates the degree of the grapes’ ripeness (sugar level) at harvest.

    Brut - A relatively dry (low sugar content) Champagne or sparkling wine.

    Clone - A group of vines originating from a single, individual plant.

    Corked - Describes a wine with a musty or moldy odor and taste. Usually caused by a chemical called trichloroanisole, or TCA, which may be formed by the reaction of chlorine to corks, especially in warm, moist conditions such as the bottling rooms of wineries.

    Cuvée - A blend or special lot of wine.

    (To) Decant - Pouring wine out of its bottle into a vessel (or decanter) made of glass or crystal for the purpose of aeration and removal of sediment.

    Demi-Sec - A half-dry Champagne or sparkling wine. Demi-sec sparkling wines are usually slightly sweet to medium sweet.

    Dosage - In bottle-fermented sparkling wines, a small amount of wine (usually sweet) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle has been removed.

    Dry - Having little or no perceptible taste of sugar. Most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent.

    Enology - The science and study of winemaking, also called viniculture or oenology.

    “Extracted” - A wine whose richness and depth of concentration of fruit is obvious.

    Fermentation - In winemaking, the process of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the oxygen-free metabolism of yeast.

    Filtration - the process of straining out solid particles in wine with various types of filters.

    Fortified wine - Denotes a wine whose alcohol content has been increased by the addition of brandy or other neutral spirits - such as port!

    “Hot” - High-alcohol, unbalanced wines that tend to burn the back of the throat on the finish.

    Jeroboam - An oversized wine bottle holding the equivalent of six 750 milliliter wine bottles.

    Late Harvest - On labels, this phrase indicates that a wine was made from grapes picked later than normal and at a higher sugar level than normal, making them “dessert wines.”

    Length (of Finish) - The amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing. In general. The longer the better.

    Meritage - A term invented by California wineries for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines “merit” with “heritage.”

    Methuselah - An extra-large wine bottle holding six liters, the equivalent of eight standard (750 milliliter) wine bottles.

    Mouthfeel - A tasting term used particularly for red wines to describe the texture of a wine within the mouth. This relates to attributes such as smoothness or grittiness.

    Négociant - French term for a merchant, refers to someone who purchases grapes or wine from a number of growers within an appellation, then blends the different lots and bottles the wine under his or her own label.

    Non-Vintage - Blended from more than one vintage, a non-vintage wine allows the vintner to maintain a house style from year to year.

    Oxidized - Wine that has been exposed too long to oxygen and has taken on a brownish color, losing its freshness and perhaps beginning to smell and taste like Sherry or old apples.

    Phenolics/Phenols - Chemical compounds derived from skins, seeds, and stems. Phenols include tannin, color, and flavor compounds.

    Phylloxera - Tiny root lice that attack the roots of vines. The disease was widespread in both Europe and California during the late nineteenth century and returned to California in the 1980s. There is no known cure at this time.

    Ripasso - In northeast Italy’s Veneto region, a traditional method of winemaking where fresh, young Valpolicella wine is placed in contact with the dried skins of grapes after their fermentation. This process activates a second fermentation, imparting some of the sweet, raisin-like character of the dried grape skins into the young wine.

    Structure - The interaction of elements such as acid, tannin, glycerin, alcohol, and body as it relates to a wine’s texture and mouthfeel. Usually preceded by a modifier such as “firm structure” or “lacking in structure.”

    Sur lie - Wines aged sur lie (French for “on the lees”) are kept in contact with the dead yeast cells and are not racked or otherwise filtered. This is mainly done for white wines, particularly Chardonnay, to enrich them. (It is a normal part of fermenting red wine and so is not noted when talking about red wine production.)

    Tannins - Compounds that contribute to a wine’s structure, mouthfeel, and astringency. Tannins in wine are derived from grape skins, seeds, and stems; the more contact the juice has with these elements, the more tannic the wine will be. Tannin is often considered the “backbone” of a wine; tannin might make a young wine less approachable, but it certainly helps in the aging process.

    Terroir - The overall environment within which a given grape variety grows. Derived from the French word (terre) for earth.

    Typicity - A winetasting term, derived from the French word typicité, that refers to a wine’s quality of being typical to its geographic region, grape variety, and vintage year.

    Varietal - A wine named for the dominant grape variety from which it is made, although other grape varieties may be present in the wine.

    Viscosity - The extent to which a solution resists flow or movement. When tasters refer to a wine’s body, they are in part evaluating a wine’s viscosity.

    Yeast - Microorganisms that produce the enzymes that convert sugar to alcohol. Yeast is necessary for the fermentation of grape juice into wine.

    The goop collection