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Wine Tips & Etiquette

 

Welcome to Pro Wine Guide!

Take a tip from a pro: “Location, Location, Location” is the secret to finding the best bottle of wine for your budget. Throughout my 30+ years in the wine distribution industry, I have found labels that tie wines as closely as possible to their grape source to be the best indicator of quality vs. price. This closely parallels the concepts of farm-to-table sourcing of foods as a measure of quality. Working within your budget, check off at least 2 of these 3 items from the bottle label:
1) Region/Appellation (Ex: Napa Valley AVA, Sonoma County AVA, Bordeaux or Rhone Valley),
2) Sub-appellation (Ex: Rutherford, Alexander Valley, Haut-Medoc or Chateauneuf-du-Pape),
3) Estate or Chateau bottled and/or named vineyard.
You will often see unfamiliar wineries on wine lists. Fear not! These small production boutique wineries represent some of the best examples of their varietals. Having tasted wine from countries, regions, appellations, sub-appellations, estates and vineyards across the globe, I follow these very same guidelines myself when selecting a bottle.
And while you’re searching for that Goldilocks bottle to match your entree selection, think about beginning your dining event with a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. Bubbles pair with everything!
I believe all the best bottles of wine reflect a taste of time, place and passion. Welcome to this timeless journey!
~ Dale Blankenship
Founder, ProWineGuide.com and Umami.Life

Restaurant Wine Rituals

The ritual of tasting wine from a bottle that you’ve ordered in a restaurant can be intimidating, so here’s a quick guide. Not just for show, it also helps you determine if a bottle is acceptable or tainted. Wines with traditional cork closures may occasionally exhibit the chemical compound TCA. These days, cork-tainted wines account for 4% or less of the wines to hit the market. A winemaker may opt to use a Stelvin closure (screw cap) instead of cork. The type of closure does not reflect upon the quality of the wine, only the preference of the winemaker.

Step by step, here’s the cheat sheet on the ritual:


1. Presentation of the Bottle

The wine specialist or server presents the bottle for inspection to the person who ordered the wine. Read over the label to ensure that it’s the wine you ordered. Feel free to touch the bottle to determine whether its’ temperature seems to be correct. Whites should be chilled, but not icy cold. Reds should have a slight coolness to them. If you’re satisfied with the bottle, nod your approval to the server.


2. Removal and Inspection of the Cork

The server removes the cork and places it in front of you. Inspect the cork and sniff it to make sure it’s in good condition. In rare instances, a wine may be so tainted the the cork itself will have an unpleasant odor. Even less often, the cork might be wet and shriveled or dry and crumbly. A cork that’s less than perfect suggests that air has infiltrated the wine and spoiled it. Don’t be too quick to reject a bottle if the cork raises your suspicions. Wait to smell or taste the wine itself. Corked wines can range from muted aromas/fruit to full-on wet, moldy cardboard aromas and zero fruit. TCA is an equal opportunity spoiler impacting wine in every price range. In other cases, the wine may need time to open up. If the bottle has a Stelvin closure, this step will be skipped.


3. Pour, Swirl, Sniff and Sip

The server pours a small amount of wine into your glass and waits. You swirl the wine in the glass, take a sniff, a little sip and then indicate whether you find the wine acceptable. If the wine is fine, you can nod your approval or say, “It’s fine.” If something is wrong with the wine, now is the time to return it. If you decide that the bottle is unacceptable, describe to the server what you find wrong with the wine. If the wine specialist or server agrees that it’s a bad bottle, he may bring you another bottle of the same, or he may ask if you would like to select another wine. Either way, the ritual repeats itself.


4. Serving the Table

If you accept the wine, the server pours the wine into your guests’ glasses and ends with yours.
Cheers!


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  • Sparkling & Champagne

    Riondo Prosecco Frizzante (187 ml)

    Italy, Veneto, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Fresh aromas of Golden Delicious apple, pear, and acacia blossom. Delicate and fruity on the palate. Persistent effervescence is followed by a crisp, clean finish.

    $8

    Bottle

    Ruffino Prosecco

    Italy, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Fragrant bouquet of apples, pears and citrus, accompanied by hints of wisteria. Crisp, clean and delicate with fine bubbles on the palate. Intense flavors of apples and peaches lead to a pleasant finish with lingering fruit and floral notes.

    $38

    Bottle

  • Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé

    Sho Chiku Bai Premium Ginjo Sake 300ml

    California Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / NV

    Dry, delicate and fruity sake features a smooth, silky texture, tinged with aromas and flavors of pear, melon, honeysuckle, custard and nutmeg.

    $20

    Bottle

    Bistro Signature Sauvignon Blanc

    France, Pays d’Oc IGP Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Nose of grapefruit, flowering broom and citrus fruits. A fresh well-balanced wine, soft and full in the mouth.

    $38

    Bottle

    Montes Sauvignon Blanc

    Chile, Aconcagua Coast Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Intense nose and palate of citrus with notes of fresh pineapple, passion fruit and orange blossom. Light touch of green chili lends complexity to the coastal profile. Juicy and balanced with natural acidity that results in a fresh and well-structured wine with a persistent finish.

    View Video

    $38

    Bottle

    Foye Sauvignon Blanc

    Chile, Valle del Maule Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Aromas of peach with undertones of citrus. Fresh and fruity on the palate.

    $38

    Bottle

    Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc

    New Zealand Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Vibrant and refreshing with tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, elderflower, cantaloupe, citrus, and herbal notes. Always fresh and crisp.

    $38

    Bottle

    Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

    New Zealand, Marlborough Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Notes of citrus and tropical fruits backed by a touch of herbaceous notes for which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is known. Balanced flavor profile with juicy acidity and fruit sweetness. Finish is fresh, zesty and lingering.

    View Video

    $50

    Bottle

    Dmne de la Villaudière Sancerre

    France, Loire Valley, Sancerre Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Pale yellow with golden highlights. The nose combines floral notes to those of white and exotic fruits (peaches, pineapple, passion). Harmonious mouthfeel with a crisp acidity, fresh fruity notes and a long finish, which shows a beautiful minerality.

    $48

    Bottle

    Ragotière Muscadet Sélection Vieilles Vignes

    France, Loire Valley, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Old vines give some concentration. Ripe fruit is crisp and refreshing. Lemon and the lightest texture are lifted by intense acidity and a lively, fresh aftertaste.

    $42

    Bottle

    Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Delle Venezie IGT Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Notes of meadow flowers, pears, and golden apple. The bouquet is fresh and complex, showing refined notes of sage and mint accompanied by an elegant minerality. Medium bodied, lively, and elegant. A touch of minerality lingers in the finish, with notes of lemon peel.

    View Video

    $38

    Bottle

    Terlato Pinot Grigio Friuli

    Italy, Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, Estate Vyds Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Bright aromas of white peach, pear and spring flowers. Complex and layered with ripe peach, apricot and pear, a mouth-filling texture and crisp mineral finish.

    View Video

    $45

    Bottle

  • Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White

    Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Silky Mild Unfiltered 375ml

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White /

    Fruity aromas and flavors of ripe banana, vanilla, melon, strawberry and creamy sweet rice custard.

    $20

    Bottle

    Butterfield Station Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Offers ripe aromas of tropical fruit complemented by a hint of vanilla. The palate ponies up flavors of juicy citrus and lemon peel with bright acidity and restrained oak.

    $38

    Bottle

    La Terre Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Subtle in style. Smoky note weaving through its Macintosh apple, honeysuckle and vanilla flavors. Round finish that lingers nicely.

    $38

    Bottle

    Foye Chardonnay

    Chile Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Passion fruit and tropical notes with honey undertones. Good acidity and fruit forward on the palate.

    $38

    Bottle

    Natura Chardonnay

    Chile, Casablanca Valley Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Refreshing citrus aromas of grapefruit and lime that intermingle with subtle tropical fruit aromas, especially pineapple, and a touch of herbs. On the palate, it is a balanced, fresh and fruity wine with velvety texture and a persistent finish. Stainless steel fermentation.

    $38

    Bottle

    Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

    CA, Monterey Co., Santa Lucia Highlands Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Enticing scents of warm brioche, roasted almonds, citrus and honeysuckle. Creaminess on the palate with flavors of lemon blossom mingle with toasted oak and a hint of buttery richness. Vibrant acidity offers balance and freshness.

    $50

    Bottle

    M Chapoutier La Combe Pilate

    France, Collines Rhodanienne IGP, Estate Vyds Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    100% Viognier from estate hillside vineyards. Very fresh on entry, good balance with a savory finish that brings out the rustic and mineral overtones. The label’s alchemic symbol for spirit reflects a commitment to create a high quality product while showcasing the spirit of the land.

    $48

    Bottle

    Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes Blanc

    France, Burgundy Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Lush, ripe style boasting peach and subtle pineapple, white flowers, salty sea breeze, and charcoal aromas and flavors. Beautiful on the palate as well, with medium-bodied richness, vibrant acidity, ample mid-palate depth and a great finish. Beautifully layered, elegant wine.

    $75

    Bottle

  • Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet

    Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling

    Washington Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Crushed minerals run through the heart of this pure and satisfying Riesling. Aromas of white peach, lime leaves, Linden tree and crush stone echo in the palate with a long, fresh finish.

    $38

    Bottle

    Wente Riverbank Riesling

    CA, Monterey, Arroyo Seco Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Dry wine with fresh aromatics of pear and honeysuckle. Balanced with a crisp acidity.

    $42

    Bottle

    Simonsig Chenin Blanc

    South Africa, Stellenbosch Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Expressive fruit notes bounce from passion fruit to apple and pear. Nuances of kiwi and green melon depict the versatility of Chenin blanc. The multilayered freshness is complimented by a balanced acidity.

    $42

    Bottle

    La Perlina Moscato

    Italy, Veneto, Moscato IGT Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    A delicately sweet white wine with soft, pearl-like bubbles.

    $38

    Bottle

    Loca Linda Torrontes (1 ltr)

    Argentina, La Rioja Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Effusive in both aromas and flavor. Strong presence of jasmine on the nose. The mouth is an expression of dry fruit including apricot with hints of lemon zest.

    $38

    Bottle

  • Fruity, Light-Bodied Red

    Meiomi Pinot Noir

    California Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    A masculine style Pinot Noir. Expressive boysenberry, blackberry, dark cherry, juicy strawberry, and toasty mocha flavors lend complexity and depth on the palate.

    $38

    Bottle

    Ryder Estate Pinot Noir

    CA, Monterey Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Lush, silky and balanced with notes of red cherry, plum and mocha.

    $38

    Bottle

    Truchard Estate Pinot Noir

    CA, Carneros, Estate Vyds Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Rich aromas of black cherry, pomegranate and wild strawberry with hints of rhubarb, tea and earth. Silky mouthfeel with flavors of cranberry, ripe plum and sweet vanilla. Firm acidity and delicate tannins focus the palate and provide a lingering finish of spice and red fruit.

    $45

    Bottle

    Mark West Pinot Noir

    California Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Mix of black cherry, cola, strawberry and plum notes, with soft tannins.

    View Video

    $45

    Bottle

    Belle Glos Balade Pinot Noir

    CA, Santa Barbara Co., Santa Maria Valley, Single Vyd Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Vibrant aromas of blackberry and raspberry and toasted oak accented by subtle notes of rose petal and violets. Juicy on the palate with red fruits and baking spices. Balanced with bright acidity and a supple mouthfeel. Fine grained tannins provide textural distinction and structural depth.

    $50

    Bottle

    Belle Glos Dairyman Pinot NoirBelle Glos Dariryman

    CA, Russian River Valley Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of black cherry and ripe plums with subtle notes of dried herbs and smoke. Flavors of ripe red and black berries complemented by hints of vanilla and baking spice. A balance of savory, cedar and cocoa powder with sweet fig jam and ripe blackberry round out the mouth feel. Great structure, smooth tannins and a lingering fresh finish.

    $55

    Bottle

    Planeta Mt. Etna Rosso

    Italy, Etna DOC Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Cranberry, raspberry and cherry notes infuse this light to medium-bodied wine with the flavors and acidity of fresh berries. Crisp freshness makes them ideal for a variety of foods. Nerello Mascalese varietal.

    View Video

    $42

    Bottle

  • Supple, Medium-Bodied Red

    Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Merlot

    CA, Napa Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / 2014

    Plush red raspberry and cherry flavors and aromas leap from the glass. This merlot has an amazing core of ripe, jammy berry and currant fruit that is beautifully framed by toasty oak. It is supple in texture and shows attractive depth on the finish.

    $65

    Bottle

    Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Merlot

    CA, Napa Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / 2015

    Plush red raspberry and cherry flavors and aromas leap from the glass. This merlot has an amazing core of ripe, jammy berry and currant fruit that is beautifully framed by toasty oak. It is supple in texture and shows attractive depth on the finish.

    $60

    Bottle

    Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino

    Italy, Montalcino DOC Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Younger, more accessible version of Brunello, but already with an excellent structure and a great personality. Intense ruby red color. Fruity bouquet with red berry notes. Very well structured, yet soft, long-lasting flavor with smooth, velvety tannins.

    View Video

    $42

    Bottle

    Cosos Garnacha

    Spain, Campo de Borja DO Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Intense, floral wine with volume. Ripe red fruits with notes of vanilla and spices. From a vineyard that is over 30 years old. Aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.

    $42

    Bottle

    Cristia Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge Vieilles Vignes

    France, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cristia Haut Vyd Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Perfume of dark berries, herbs de Provence, crushed flowers and exotic spices. Silken sip of juicy black cherries with granite, smoke and pepper. On the palate, a wealth of fruit and long finish. Fresh, mineral tang and taut, fine-grained tannins. 100% Grenache from vines 80-100 years old.

    $165

    Bottle

  • Bold, Full-Bodied Red

    Cabo de Hornos Cabernet Sauvignon

    Chile, Lontué Valley, San Pedro Vyds Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    From 40-year-old dry farmed vineyards. Intense color and mature aromas of spices mixed with wood, coffee and black fruits. Great body and good concentration, tannins in harmony with other components. Classic, elegant and expressive, but serious wine. Aged 18 months in French oak (new and used).

    $52

    Bottle

    Athena Cabernet Sauvignon

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Intense aromas of blackberry and currants, while French oak nuances provide hints of clove and nutmeg. This is a full-bodied wine, packed with rich layers of dark fruit character and structured tannins.

    $42

    Bottle

    Bistro Signature Red

    France, Pays d’Oc IGP Bold, Full-Bodied Red / NV

    Fat and round on the palate, this wine develops on the nose with aromas of vanilla, green pepper and blackcurrants. Tannins are wrapped, giving the whole a feeling of fullness and smoothness. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot.

    $42

    Bottle

    Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Vibrant blackberry and red cherry flavors with notes of cinnamon and toasted nuts.

    $42

    Bottle

    Butterfield Station Cabernet Sauvignon

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Rich, round and flush with flavor. Aromas of blackberry and cassis with hints of spice and toasted oak are complemented by flavors of plum, black cherry and soft oak tannins.

    $42

    Bottle

    Worthy Sophia’s Cuvée Red

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Dense and purple, with tiers of earthy currant, blackberry liqueur, plum, cassis and violet flavors framed by ample tannins and sweet oak. Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

    $75

    Bottle

    Cadence Ciel du Cheval Red

    WA, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vyd Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Leads with dark, sultry spice and black berry fruit. Intense, penetrating flavors of black raspberry, cocoa, cherries and baking spices await on the palate. The flavors finish with firm tannins in a resolute style. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot.

    $75

    Bottle

    Nickel & Nickel Branding Iron Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Napa Valley, Oakville, Branding Iron Vyd Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Inviting aromas of mixed berries, floral notes and earth. Juicy dark berry fruits meld with subtle clove and spice. Toasty oak enriches the wine and accentuates its round mouthfeel, but dominant fruit lingers on the palate from start to finish as the soft tannins add harmony and grace.

    View Video

    $155

    Bottle

    Whitehall Lane Leonardini Est Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Napa Valley, Leonardini Estate Vyds Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Nose begins with rich, dark red fruits, lavender, sweet vanilla and baking spices. Balance and mid-palate offer long, plush tannins alongside dense fruit character. The palate delivers red fruits, bourbon-soaked maraschino cherries, toasted walnuts and cedar on the finish. Beautiful underlying tannin structure, complexity and ample fruit.

    $175

    Bottle

    Titolo Aglianico del Vulture

    italy, Barile, Aglianico del Vulture DOC Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Dark and intense ruby red with an ample and complex nose yielding ethereal spices, cherry, blackberry preserves, rosemary, tobacco and cinnamon with light hints of vanilla. Dry on the palate and full bodied with firm tannins and a long finish.

    $80

    Bottle

    Sasso Di Sole Brunello di Montalcino

    Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino DOCG Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Intense ruby ​​red color and varietal and spicy aromas, with an excellent freshness and a fine intensity. In the mouth it is enveloping, silky with sensations of softness that enhance its breadth. With an elegant and balanced structure with soft and never intrusive tannins.

    $70

    Bottle

  • Light Appetizers

  • Soup/Rich Appetizers

  • Spicy Asian

  • Fish

  • Rich Fish

  • White Meat

  • Red Meat

  • Wild Game