case of wineNot sure what wine to try? Let’s put together a case of wine that will give you a broad taste of the wine universe. The goal here is to select a nice mix of wines that you can have on hand to pair with meals, drink with friends, or simply enjoy at the end of a long day. To understand why we recommend the wines we do, we’d like to give you a little Wine 101 reasoning to fill that case of wine.

To start, let’s talk tannins

If you really want to sound scientific, you will drop the term “polyphenol” in casual wine conversations. It is the scientific name for tannin, which occurs naturally in plants, seed, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. In terms of wine, tannins come from the grape skins, seeds, and stems. Makers of red wine use all parts of the grape in production, whereas white wine is derived only from the grape juice. Therefore, red wines are tannic while white wines, for the most part, are not. White wines can taste slightly tannic if they age in wooden barrels, but tannic is a red wine quality.

Tannins add a bitter taste to red wine, but they also provide color, flavor, and structure. Heavily tannic wines are often meant to be “cellared” (or aged) much longer than less tannic wines. The aging process helps mellow out the tannins while bringing out the wine’s body and flavor.

For your wine case, Let’s include a couple of wines with heavier tannins, such as the 2013 Scarlett Cabernet Sauvignon or the 2012 Glaetzer Amon Ra Shiraz.

PB & Jammy

On the other side of the spectrum, far away from tannic, is jammy. A “jammy” wine is made from extremely ripe grapes and has a cooked-berry sweetness not usually found in wines made for aging. Sommeliers sometimes use “jammy” as a negative description of a wine, but anyone who loves jam on their toast will appreciate a wine with jammy goodness. It’s also a great entry into wine tasting for people newer to the sport. We suggest adding this jammy Zinfandel, 2012 Kendall-Jackson Vinter’s Reserve to your case, along with the delicious 2013 Emmolo Merlot.

Chard is in the cards

We can’t put a case of wine together without talking about Chardonnay. It is the most planted wine grape in the world. For many, comparing Chardonnays comes down to oaked vs. unoaked Chardonnay. Oak aging Chardonnay imparts flavors of vanilla and butter into the wine. A special fermentation process called malolactic fermentation used in some types of oaked Chardonnay gives the wine a very creamy texture and buttery taste. Oaked Chards will also have more of a tropical fruit or citrus flavor, while unoaked tastes zestier and gives off flavors closer to a green apple. Unoaked Chards are often described as dry, crisp, and tart.

The oaked Chards we suggest you put in your case include 2013 Tor Kenward Torchiana, and 2012 Hartford Court “Seascape Vineyard”.

For an unoaked Chardonnay, we recommend trying the 2012 Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay in your case.

There are 9 types of wine, although there is some overlap:

  • Full-bodied red
  • Medium-bodied red
  • Light-bodied red
  • Rosé
  • Full-bodied white
  • Aromatic white
  • Dessert and fortified
  • Champagne and sparkling

The wines we have in your case right now include two full bodied reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz), two medium bodied reds (Zinfandel and Merlot), two full-bodied whites (oaked Chardonnay), and one light bodied white (unoaked Chardonnay).

Pardon me, do you have a light (red)?

We should add a light-bodied red to this mix. The light reds have more subtle flavors and aromas. Consider it a kinder, gentler red; with less tannins and a lower alcohol content than their full-bodied, tannic cousins. The red fruit flavors make it popular among collectors and rookies alike. Pinot Noir is a perfect example of a lighter red. Let’s add this 2012 Arterberry Maresh Dundee Hills Pinot to your case.

Time to smell (and taste) the Rosés

Rosé wines are the Switzerland of wines. Not quite red, not quite white, though they do tend to behave more like a white. They offer a great mid-point, especially in summer. Rosé is meant to be chilled and its typically dry flavor pairs with many foods popular in the warmer months. Rosé often hails from the Mediterranean, specifically around the south of France, the eastern coast of Spain, and Italy, although our recommendation for a Rosé to add to your case comes from a winery in Oregon: Eyrie Rosé of Pinot Noir.

Aromatic brings flowers (to your nose) and hopefully harmony

Aromatic wines get their name because floral aromas jump out of the glass. They often have a higher sugar content, though that does not automatically translate into a sweeter taste. Aromatic wines come in both dry and sweet styles. The residual grape sugar is used to balance the wine, not necessarily sweeten it. Some grape varietals are not naturally sweet, so without residual sugar, certain wines would be too acidic or bitter. When a wine balances the acidity and bitterness with enough sweet, wine aficionados will describe it as harmoniously sweet.

Interestingly, you cannot tell if an aromatic wine is sweet by its aroma. Both dry and sweet wines can give off floral and fruit aromas. It’s a sacrifice, we know, but you’ll just have to taste it to tell for sure. A fine example of a balanced, dry, aromatic wine for your case is a German wine that is intensely aromatic: the 2013 Girard Sauvignon Blanc.

Sweets for the sweet

In sweet wines, winemakers stop the fermentation process early; before the yeast wipes out all the sugar. This results in a lower alcohol content. As you can imagine, this is unacceptable, so winemakers will “fortify” the sweet mixture with brandy, bringing the alcohol level up high (17-20 percent). The high sugar and alcohol make dessert wines a treat to be enjoyed in small amounts, only two to three ounces. There are dessert wines that have not been fortified but, at least this time, they don’t make it into the case. For our wine case, we’ll add a bottle of Cossart Gordon 187 Bual Madeira, but Port and Sherry are also examples of dessert wines.

Bring on the bubbly

Finally, no case would be complete without Champagne. The bubbles in the bubbly come from adding a special mixture of sugar and yeast to a dry, still base wine. It’s called “liqueur de tirage” and it causes a second fermentation in the bottle. The bubbles are then born. Some sparkling wines, such as Prosecco and Lambrusco become bubbly because of being fermented under pressure and then bottled. Low quality sparkling wines are force-fed carbonation. Champagne typically has high acidity and varies in color from white to rosé in color. The last bottle we put in the case will be this sparkler: Drappier Champagne Brut Rosé 750 (NV).

You now have a case that offers a nice variety of wines, but at Selectwine.com, we are happy to help you choose wines based on your preferences, the occasion, or the menu. We have an unmatched selection of collectable wines and amazing shipping deals, so order a case of wine today!