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A Guide to Wine

December 28th, 2012 Seasonal

When hosting a dinner party or bringing the gift of wine, it's important to know what kind to purchase so you can pair it with the main course perfectly. Here's a list of the most common red and white wines people drink in the U.S. and their characteristics.

Red • Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a distinctive black currant aroma and may include nuances of cedar, tobacco and violets. It is rich and has a velvety texture, making it a great match for strong cheeses and heavy meats. • Merlot. This variety has a flavor similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but is less distinctive. It is a medium-bodied wine that is easy to drink and has an uncomplicated fruitiness. It pairs well with lamb, red meat and pasta dishes. • Pinot Noir. One of the oldest grape varieties to be grown for making wine, Pinot Noir is a favorite because it's so versatile. It is rich, but not heavy, with a silky texture. It has a high alcohol content and goes great with steak, chicken, fish and vegetable dishes. • Shiraz. These wines are spicy, rich and intense. They usually have a high alcohol content and a chewy texture because of high levels of tannins. Shiraz goes well with red meat, stews and pasta dishes.

White • Chardonnay. This white wine is rich yet delicate, with a fruity aroma and a silky texture. Hints of vanilla are also common in chardonnay. It pairs well with chicken, clams, creamy pasta dishes and pork. • Pinot Grigio. This variety is rich and crisp with a mildly floral aroma and hints of citrus and vanilla. It is very flexible and can complement a variety of foods, such as fish, soups, salads and other light dishes. • Riesling. This wine has a distinctive floral and apple aroma. It is sweet and crisp, making it the perfect accompaniment for spicy foods and savory fish. • Sauvignon Blanc. With a distinctive, sharp smell, this wine is often tart and tangy with herbaceous aromas. It pairs well with flavorful foods that may overpower other white wines, like tomatoes, garlic and smoked cheese.

Publishers Clearing House reminds you to please drink responsibly.