There are a few things that can cause great turmoil in a man’s life, and aside from not putting the toilet seat down, understanding wine may be the most common. The difficulty begins with the inconvenience of a corked bottle, followed by strange words we don’t understand like “sauvignon” and “pinot,” but with a little help from this simple wine guide, you’ll be schmoozing with snobs, sniffing the bottle before purchasing it and making lame jokes followed by bad hangovers in no time.
Boxed or not, a man should enjoy a glass each day, as it’s known to improve vitality and sexuality (and also gives a good buzz). From red to white, your wine guide awaits you, and it just might save your ass on occasion.
Cabernet Sauvignon (pronounced Kah-bare-nay Soh-vee-nyoh)
The big daddy of red wines is most likely going to be a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, or as the winos refer to it, a cab. Don’t be thrown clear by such jargon, as like most red wines, there is a rich, fruity taste behind this dark, bold choice. This wine gets both its smell and flavor from the dark fruits, like plums and blackberries, and spices, such as vanilla and pepper, along with earthy flavors of coffee, chocolate, herb and oak, or cedar. If anybody quizzes you, now you know, but you’d be better off telling them to get screwed.
If you’re grilling up some steaks on the porch, serving up a nice cheese dish or ordering a red wine for a lady, you can’t go wrong with a cab.
Made from the red grapes of Argentina, take note that Malbec is a fine wine that most people don’t think to order. In some cultures, Malbec is referred to as “black wine” because of its deep color from the black and blueberries and black raspberries it’s flavored with. The further you go in price range, the more you’ll notice flavors of oak, much like a Cabernet, which is popular to blend with Malbec.
Malbecs are great for grilling out as well, especially known to go well with spicy dishes, so if you’re adding something a little extra to your chicken, you might as well pull out a few glasses of Malbec, too. If you’re not sure, you can always try these things on your own first and see how it goes.
A good Syrah is a reddish wine, a little lighter than Cabernet and Malbec and purple in color due to its cherry and plum flavor, but it also has hints of blackberry and raisin just like cabs do. Though a full body wine, Syrah is a bit of a lighter red wine. So if you’re having an afternoon outside and people are feeling wine, or you just made a small meal, Syrah is a good choice since it’s known for going down a little easier while still remaining enjoyable. It is also a little spicy and meaty, so it goes great with a burger.
Pinot Noir (Pee-no Nwarh)
If you’re just starting out as a wine taster and unsure which it is you like, we suggest starting with a Pinot Noir. It’s delicious, not too bold and lands somewhere right in the middle of good times and sober driving. Whereas some wines tends to be overdone and overwhelm newcomers, Pinot Noir is a wonderful guest to your taste buds.
It’s lighter in look, smell and flavor because it houses raspberry, strawberry and cherry, lighter fruits than the cabs and Malbecs of the world. It’s commonly considered the most seductive of wines, so if you’re thinking of inviting a girl over, Pinot Noir is your new best friend. Just don’t confuse it with Pinot Grigio (a white wine coming up) and look like an uncultured buffoon.
Anybody who knows anything about wine knows about Merlot, hopefully. Merlot is the safe bet wine that anybody will like or say they like. Make note that avid wine drinkers are probably not as interested in Merlot, though, and prefer the "finer" wine and to act like pretentious jerks.
Merlot works with just about anything, and it’s the red wine to win over a generation of late bloomers with a lot of the same flavors as pinot noir and its lighter, red fruits. If you’re cooking up any kind of bird, whether it’s chicken, duck, crow or dove, a glass of Merlot will casually stand by it, no questions asked, except why you might be eating crow or dove, you sick bastard.
Unlike the three-dollar Zinfandel nights you had in college, chugging the sweet nectar before heading out for a night of vomiting and a morning of misery, they do make respectable Zinfandels that adults drink, too.
Zinfandel wine is one of the lightest red wines you can find, more of a pinkish hue than a red, so as to seem more inviting compared to the dark wine competition. The fresh flavor of Zinfandel is synonymous with summer, almost like a red champagne for the sunny afternoons. Going well with any cheese, cracker and fruit display, Zinfandels are the wines that allow you to have a couple more than the darker wines without feeling the hammer on your temple as easily in the morning. But don’t be too foolish; it might be light, but it’s still wine.
Sauvignon Blanc (So-vin-yawn Blonk)
Onto the white wines! With the citrus flavor of grapefruit and melon, along with fig, herb and a grassy flavor, this wine is possibly the most crisp, likable blend of zesty fruit from the wonderful wine heaven known as Bordeaux. Sauvignon Blanc is a light, yet highly respectable take on wine, never one to disappoint and usually modestly priced wherever you find it.
Great with grilled seafood and vegetables, some might say it’s the white wine grill master’s choice, if you know any of those types. If you’ve ever gotten drunk while eating a bag of white grapes, you know now just what Sauvignon Blanc is, kind of.
Pinot Grigio (Pee-noh Gree-jee-oh)
Say it out loud, because chances are you’re saying it wrong if it’s you’re first time. Not to be confused with its red Pinot counterpart, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio is actually a white wine, fairly popular to the average wine drinker, and even more common to complete drunks who fancy a dinner party.
Most popularly made in Italy, Pinot Grigio offers the smells and tastes of apple, pear and lemon, all refreshing light fruits that mix into the full flavor that is pretty much right down the middle. It goes well with light foods, and if you crave a glass but are afraid of how to say it correctly, just shorten it to Pinot Greej.
Easily the most distinctive white wine on the market, chardonnay is one of those you-love-it-or-you-don’t kinds of wine. Whereas many wines come around with an acquired taste, chardonnay hits with its crisp, yet dry taste, that people don’t always warm up to. Its lightness, however, comes from the fruit flavor of peach, apple and pear flavor, and compared to many reds, it can really hit the spot on a warm day or early evening gathering.
Not to scare you off, as it’s considered the most popular wine in America, but Chardonnays are typically a very dry wine. Though crisp and fresh, it’s not always a taste which matches its look.
You can tell a good Chardonnay from an average one based on its price, its region and its oak aging. If you buy a five-dollar bottle at Kroger, you’ll notice simple taste, whereas a Russian River Valley, California Chardonnay with a long lasting taste and stronger notes of oak will cost you a couple more Washingtons.
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No doubt this is a wine your mother might like to bust out at holiday parties, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Riesling is one of the sweeter wines we can guide you to, as its refreshing mix of apricot, honey, pineapple and citrus hints are always a hit. If you’re not in the mood to drink heavy or you’re at a family picnic, trying to keep grandma from getting too sauced, Rieslings are a good way to go.
Rieslings, a German style of wine, go well with light food dishes, such as chicken and seafood. The wine is light in its body but so full flavored that some people even enjoy it with their dessert. Put simply, if you hate Chardonnay, you’ll love Riesling.
As a final note, it helps if you look at wine not as some fancy-dancy drink whose love you’re unworthy of, but instead as you would beer. Do you drink Guinness on a hot day, or a Corona? It’s the same deal with wine, only to most guys, they all taste the same. It’s all about weather, timing and meals (or lack thereof).