Man Lab: Five Wines You Should Know

If there’s two things that we love, it’s food and drink. However, we rarely, if ever, talk about wine as a drinking option. Wine is one of those drinks that really combines food and drink because one of the great qualities of wine is the ability to pair it with food to make both together greater than the sum of their parts. The thing is that most people are a little lost when it comes to pairing their food and drink. Fortunately, the crew at AskMen have broken down five of the more common types of wines to tell you what they taste like and how to pair them.

Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is made from a crossing of the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes to make Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. once it has aged (at least 10 to 15 years) it has an oaky aroma that often has hints of coffee, chocolate, leather and tobacco. Young Cabernets (aged 3 to 7 years) have a lighter, fruitier smell and taste with aromas of cranberry, raspberry and plum. So, whether you like your red wine woody and earthy or fruity and floral, this oft-named “King of the Red Wines” will surely make a welcome addition to your wine rack.

Food Pairings:
Aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold wine that tends to overwhelm light dishes. It is best sipped with red meat dishes, like steak and lamb, heavy cream dishes, and dark chocolate desserts. Lighter Cabernet Sauvignons are best paired with pork, veal, poultry, pasta, and light cheeses.

Recommendations:
2006 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia
2004 Cono Sur 20 Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile
2005 Janzen Estate Cloudy’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Shiraz

Known as “the man’s wine” both Shiraz wines have a distinct flavor that the general public has come to love. The beauty of Shiraz is that while each wine may originate from a single family of grapes, the methods used, climate and even the soils in which the grapes are grown can change the final taste and aroma so dramatically that each producer’s Shiraz has its own personality and qualities to enjoy.

Food Pairings:
Most Shiraz wines are best enjoyed with red and/or game meats as well as full-bodied cheeses. So, if you’re planning on cooking up a mean steak, make sure you check out these Shiraz varietals to complement the meal to perfection.

Recommendations:
2005 Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz, Australia
2006 Sebeka, South Africa
2004 Vina la Rosa Don Reca Shiraz, Chile

Merlot

With a slightly lower acidity than Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is an easy table wine, but it is sometimes snubbed by wine connoisseurs as a “women’s wine,” perhaps because it can lack complexity in comparison with varietals like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. Expect to taste fruity notes, such as blueberry, cherry, blackberry and plum, with tones of black pepper, licorice and even vanilla. You will be more likely to detect herbaceous flavors, such as green pepper and olive, in a Merlot than you will in a Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on the cask in which it was aged, you may also taste hints of oak, vanilla, and smoke. Note that these flavors will balance nicely with others in a good bottle, but if the wood notes overpower other tastes, it may indicate a less-than-perfect batch that the vintner is attempting to mask with the flavor of the cask.

Food Pairings:
As it is a medium-bodied wine, Merlot pairs best with earthy, hearty dishes. Lighter dishes, including many types of fish, will clash with the bold flavor of this wine. Try it with medium-weight foods, such as veal, Italian-style sausages, roast lamb, duck with fruit sauce, salmon, tuna, bean dishes, lentils and vegetables, cheese dips, and semi-hard cheeses like an aged Gouda or Cheddar.

Recommendations:
2003 Calvet Reserve, France
2004 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Series Merlot Blue Label, California
2005 Chateau Pey La Tour, Reserve du Chateau 2005, Bordeaux Superieur, France

Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer is a white wine that is easy on the palate, which makes it enjoyable for the beginner, yet its complexity will envelope your mouth in a silky finish. The wine itself is medium-dry and often accompanied by a bouquet of lychees, but not always. Gewurztraminer is, however, typically full-bodied, sweet, straw yellow in tint, floral with exotic fruity notes, and rich with spices, such as ginger.

Food Pairings:
Serve Gewurztraminer as an accompaniment to a meal or directly afterward, but we like it so much that we suggest you drink it as an aperitif too. Gewurztraminer is ideal for cutting through a greasy meal, but not any kind of grease; serve it with grilled seafood or shellfish with a mayonnaise sauce, sushi, and fatty fish (salmon or tuna). The recommended serving temperature: 50F to 53.6F.

Recommendations:
2006 Riefle Gewurztraminer Bonheur Exceptionnel, France
2006 Pfaffenheim Cuvee Bacchus, France
2003 Ruhlmann Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Frankstein, France

Chardonnay

The taste of a good Chardonnay wine varies from buttered, oak overtones to refreshing fruit flavors like pear, apple, lemons, peaches, and citrus. The price of a bottle of Chardonnay can be just as varied. You can find them starting as low as $8 but can also be one of the more expensive wine varieties on the shelf.

Food Pairings:
Chardonnay wines can be paired with poultry, pork and seafood dishes, and anything with a lot of butter or a heavy cream base. Serve Chardonnay chilled slightly.

Recommendations:
2006 Deakin Estate Chardonnay, Australia
2006 Vina La Rosa La Capitana Chardonnay, Chile
2005 Pierre Andre Bourgogne Chardonnay Reserve, France

Article contains information from AskMen.

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