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Removing the Mystique From a Wine Menu

Let’s set the mood first …

You’ve walked into a great restaurant with a group of girlfriends – subtle lighting, air warmed by a wood fire, cozy ambience, decadent smells wafting from the kitchen. Tonight will be a great night of bonding, eating and soul-filling conversations. A bottle dinner with your girlfriendsof wine is the perfect mood-enhancer and everyone’s eager to order. Trouble is, the wine selection is daunting.

Let’s explore the wine menu a little deeper and de-mystify the selection …

Wine growing region basics

The majority of the wine produced in the world comes from regions in the mid-latitudes (between 30’-50’ latitude north and south). With some fantastic exceptions, the equator gets too hot for wine production and northern/southern climes get too cold for a proper growing season. Picture the world spread out on a table top map and let’s explore those awesome wine regions of note.

  • taste your way through wine countryDominant Northern Wine Regions – Most popular regions here include California, Niagara/New York, most of Europe and China.
  • Dominant Southern Wine Regions – Popular regions south of the equator include Chile/Argentina, South Africa and Australia/New Zealand.

Names of famous wine regions

Some famous wine regions are so synonymous with the wines themselves that they have become iconic identifiers of their region, often wine-making styles and well-known travel destinations. Do any of these smaller regions sound familiar?

  • Burgundy
  • Bordeaux
  • ready for harvestChampagne
  • Tuscany
  • Mosel
  • Napa
  • Sonoma
  • Niagara
  • Barossa Valley
  • Mendoza
  • Rioja

Opening a wine menu

Your wine menu will be separated into the types of wines:

  • a tragic tale ...White wines (Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Gewurtz traminer)
  • Red wines (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel, Malbec)
  • Sparkling wines or Champagnes (White, Pink, Blush, Sec)
  • Dessert wines (Port, Sherry, Icewine, Late Harvest wines)

Within each selection, the wine buyer for the restaurant will choose bottles from specific wineries around the world. How you choose your wine for the evening is more about you than it is the region though.

  • wine cellars made for samplingAre you sharing a bottle?
  • Is it a celebration?
  • Are you on a summer patio?
  • Are you looking for a “big red” (Our GoGirlfriend quest)

Consider the taste style you prefer and begin your walk through the world of wines with the wine steward or sommelier. S/he can help match your style or taste preference with a region. This becomes a great opportunity to explore some different regions of the world, new grape varieties, and alternative wine styles.

only one way to knowLet your sommelier know you’re open to suggestions. Have some fun, mix it up and taste around the table. Talk about with sensations you like, which ones you don’t. Wine is meant for fun and relaxation. Don’t be afraid to ask your sommelier lots of questions –s/he is there to make your wine experience the best it can be.

And if you’re worried about calories, don’t be. An average glass of wine is  only 120 calories a glass, so that extra one is no stress.

Begin with swirl, sniff, and sip

A Note on pricing

relaxing words of wisdomLooking at a wine menu can be a sticker-shock experience. The same wine you can buy at home is triple on the wine menu. That’s standard in the business for the service and luxury mark-up. It’s no different than a $5 beer or a $12 mixed drink. Buy within your budget – a more expensive wine isn’t always a better wine. There’s always a wine offering to suit all wallets and a good sommelier will help you find the right one for you.

Do you have a favorite wine region you always source out? Do they specialize in a particular taste you enjoy? Share with us on GoGirlfriend … we’d love to explore with you! Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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