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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

    Maschio Prosecco Brut (187ml)

    Italy, Veneto Sparkling & Champagne / Vintage

    Light straw color with lively bubbles. A bouquet of white peach and orange blossoms.

    $7.75

    Bottle

    Sofia Blanc de Blanc by Coppola (187ml)

    CA, Monterey Co. Sparkling & Champagne / Vintage

    Fruity and refreshing, mellow flavors of apples and pears are topped by a hint of citrus and honeysuckle. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Muscat, and Riesling.

    $8.5

    Bottle

    Chandon Rosé Brut Classic (187ml)

    California Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Rosé of intense ripe strawberry, juicy watermelon, and fresh red cherry fruit aromas and flavors. Creamy and seductive on the palate.

    $13

    Bottle

    Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne

    France, Champagne Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Harmonious and structured, elegant and lively with a unique exuberance. Brut Premier comprises a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier that originate from selected crus. Aged for 3 years in oak tuns and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging.

    $98

    Bottle

  • Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé

    Becker Vyds Provencal Dry Rosé

    TX, Hill Country Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    A true dry rosé wine in the off-dry style of a French provencal rosé. Fresh strawberry and tropical fruit nuances. Blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah.

    $7.75

    Glass

    $28

    Bottle

    Kim Crawford Rosé (375ml)

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

    A lively nose, brimming with bright berry and tropical fruit. Soft and luscious on the palate, this refreshing Rosé is richly fruited with hints of watermelon and strawberry.

    $22

    Bottle

    Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Valdadige Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    An intense nose that marries the classic pear and apple-like fragrances with elegant hints of florality and citrus.

    View Video

    $15

    Glass

    $58

    Bottle

    Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Cool nights promote fragrant, intense aromas uncommon in Pinot Grigio. Exudes an alluring floral perfume with a palate of fresh peach, Granny Smith apple and nectarine alongside crisp acidity.

    $11

    Glass

    $42

    Bottle

    A to Z Pinot Gris

    Oregon Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Aromas of peach, honeysuckle, lime blossom and kiwi, with spicy note of orange zest. Ripe palate of lush fruit flavors with mineral notes and juicy acidity.

    $8.75

    Glass

    $35

    Bottle

    Drylands Sauvignon Blanc

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

    Layers of passion fruit and pink grapefruit with hints of tropical fruit, melon, and fresh herb. Rich and mouth-filling. Laden with tropical fruit and citrus impressively structured by juicy acidity.

    $11.5

    Glass

    $44

    Bottle

    Simi Sauvignon Blanc

    CA, Sonoma Co. Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Lively and forward on the palate, with zesty notes of lime and grapefruit. Refreshing, full, and vibrant with a long finish. Small amounts of Viognier and Semillon blended in for additional richness to the palate.

    View Video

    $8.75

    Glass

    $35

    Bottle

    Quintessa Illumination Sauvignon Blanc

    CA, Napa Valley Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Alive with aromatic complexity, texture and bright flavors. The fruit aromas of white peach, kiwi and guava interplay with fresh herbs, pink grapefruit and honey creating an intricate bouquet. The palate shows stone fruit, lemon zest and a touch of minerality, followed by a fresh, flavorful finish.

    View Video

    $80

    Bottle

  • Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White

    The Grill House Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    A fruity chardonnay with crisp acidity. Medium body, some oak, some butter.

    $6.75

    Glass

    Sea Sun Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    The best characteristics of Chardonnay with fruit flavors, oak and acidity in harmony and balance.

    $12

    Glass

    $46

    Bottle

    Grayson Cellars Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Brilliantly ripe and shows bright, brisk acidity and good minerality with notes of pineapple and apricot. Palate offers green apple fruit with a crisp finish showing gentle hints of apple pie and vanilla flavors.

    $8

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s RSV Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Tropical flavors of pineapple, mango and papaya with citrus notes mingle with aromas of vanilla and honey. Hints of toasted oak and butter from fermentation in French and American oak barrels and sur lie aging for velvety texture and creamy flavor.

    $9.25

    Glass

    $34

    Bottle

    Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay RR Ranches

    CA, Sonoma, Russian River Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Bright acidity balanced by a long finish and a light mid-palate creaminess. Crisp and zesty flavors of lemon drop, green apple, white peach and lychee are accented with barrel spice and persistent lime.

    View Video

    $14

    Glass

    $54

    Bottle

    Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay

    CA, Sonoma, Chalk Hill Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Flavors of golden delicious apple, Meyer lemon, baking spices with a hint of minerality on the long finish. Toasty vanilla and spice complexities with an elegant fullness and creamy texture from fermentation in French oak barrels for 12 months on the lees.

    View Video

    $10.5

    Glass

    $40

    Bottle

    Chalone Vyd Estate Chardonnay

    CA, Monterrey Co., Chalone, Est Vyds Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Crisp and refreshing, it opens up with nuances of stone fruit, wet rock and a hint of oak. Burgundian style boasting a unique minerality and exceptional complexity derived from mature vineyards coupled with ancient limestone that runs through the Chalone AVA.

    $44

    Bottle

    Duckhorn Vyds Napa Valley Chardonnay

    CA, Napa Valley Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Aromas of nectarine, vanilla and cream. Bright entry and rich, silky texture. On the palate, flavors of pear, peach, chai and wildflowers are elegantly framed by delicate hints of French oak, all leading to a long and mineral-driven finish.

    $70

    Bottle

  • Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet

    The Grill House White Zinfandel

    California Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Citrusy and light flavors – orange, vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, cherry.

    $6.75

    Glass

    LangeTwins Moscato

    CA, Clarksburg Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Lively bouquet of peaches, apricot, orange blossom and honeysuckle. On the palate, flavors mirror the aroma with natural sweetness balanced by a slight sparkle that gives the wine a light body and crisp finish.

    $8

    Glass

    $31

    Bottle

    Dr. L Riesling Dry

    Germany, Mosel Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Crisp, refreshing Riesling capturing the elegant and racy characteristics of steep, slate-soil Mosel vineyards. Floral and earthy, with a full-bodied texture that makes it a satisfying, yet effortlessly elegant wine.

    $11

    Glass

    $42

    Bottle

    Schmitt Söhne Piesporter Riesling

    Germany, Piesporter Michelsberg Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Made from Riesling and Müller-Thurgau grapes, hints of peaches and green apples are balanced perfectly with crisp acidity to provide a clean and fresh finish.

    $7.75

    Glass

    $28

    Bottle

  • Fruity, Light-Bodied Red

    Pinot Evil Pinot Noir

    Chile Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Rich fruit-forward style with hint of dark berries, chocolate and black cherries. Medium-bodied Pinot Noir with full round tannin finish.

    $7.75

    Glass

    $28

    Bottle

    Elouan Pinot Noir

    Oregon Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Flavors of red plum, bright cherry, minerality, dusty earth and a hint of sweet tobacco, creating layers of flavor with soft refined tannins. The palate shows texture and weight with firm acidity.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $46

    Bottle

    Benton-Lane Pinot Noir

    OR, Willamette Valley Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Flavors bursting with black cherry, cola, cranberry and a subtle floral nature akin to rose petals.

    View Video

    $14

    Glass

    $54

    Bottle

    Siduri Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

    CA, Anderson Valley Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of warm oak spices, followed by red and black fruits, Portobello mushroom, chestnut, sage, and forest floor. Bright acid leads to a full, juicy texture in the mid-palate with tart flavors of red plum, raspberry and red currant. Fine, focused tannins add length to the finish.

    $65

    Bottle

    Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir

    CA, Santa Maria Valley, Clark & Telephone Vyd Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The color is a deep scarlet-red with lush aromas of blackberry bramble, nutmeg, and hint of caramel. The wine is fresh and exuberant in the mouth with sumptuous strawberry jam, ripe black cherry, cranberry and warm gingerbread.

    View Video

    $85

    Bottle

  • Supple, Medium-Bodied Red

    The Grill House Cabernet Sauvignon

    California Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Medium-bodied with flavors of blackberry, plum and cherry fruit; a hint of spice. Soft and supple tannins make for an easy drinking, everyday wine.

    $6.75

    Glass

    Estancia Merlot

    CA, Central Coast Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Tastes of blue and black fruit, cherry cola, and toasty vanilla.

    $8.75

    Glass

    $34

    Bottle

    Francis Coppola Diamond Blue Label Merlot

    California Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Intense aromatics of raspberry and blueberry lead to flavors of crushed berries, vanilla and leather, which are wrapped up in a soft, smooth tannin structure.

    View Video

    $10.5

    Glass

    $38

    Bottle

    Duckhorn Vyds Napa Valley Merlot

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

    Aromas of ripe cherry, plum and black fig, underscored by hints of leather and cedar. On the palate, lush and supple with bright acidity and velvety tannins supporting layers of raspberry and black cherry with hints of coffee and chocolate on the long finish.

    $95

    Bottle

    Duckhorn Vyds Decoy Zinfandel

    CA, Sonoma Co. Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Luscious fruit aromas with layers of wild blueberry, blackberry and cassis on the palate underscored by an elegant structure that includes supple, refined tannins, balanced acidity and a hint of juicy sweetness and toasty oak.

    View Video

    $13.5

    Glass

    $50

    Bottle

    Kuleto Est Native Son Red Blend

    CA, Lake Co. & Napa Co., Est Vyds Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Enticing aromas of red and black berries, hints of nutmeg, toasted wood and lingering spice. Smooth with a silky mouthfeel highlights the dark cherry and plum while notes of warm vanilla and baking spices give way to a lengthy satisfying finish.

    $60

    Bottle

  • Bold, Full-Bodied Red

    Kuleto The Frog Prince Red Blend

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

    Classic Old World style wine. Inviting ripe cherry and plum aromas are accented by dried herbs. Refined yet dynamic palate with bright red fruit flavors, a vigorous acidity and well-defined tannins that extend through to the finish.

    $13.50

    Glass

    $50

    Bottle

    Becker Vyds Malbec

    TX, High Plains Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Essences of coffee, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and ripe plums permeate this rich and complex wine. Lingering finish of earthy tones and smoky toasted oak.

    $9.25

    Glass

    $34

    Bottle

    Pascual Toso Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Plum and quince aromas with a touch of oak. Blackberry and licorice on the palate. Rich and long finish with smoky accents and oak.

    $8.25

    Glass

    $30

    Bottle

    Terrazas de los Andes RSVA Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Wines are fruity and aromatic, revealing a floral and red fruit profile of violet, raspberry and cherry, with marked aromas of toasted coffee and chocolate.

    View Video

    $12.50

    Glass

    $48

    Bottle

    Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon RSV

    CA, Sonoma, Alexander Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of wild cherry, espresso, mocha, and black licorice followed by flavors of cassis and black cherry. The wine has structured tannins, a full body and a long, silky finish.

    $12

    Glass

    $46

    Bottle

    Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Sonoma Co. Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Supple tannins make the young wine approachable with concentrated flavors of wild berries, plum, licorice and mocha. The full-bodied and mouth-coating feel on the palate leads to a long finish.

    $10

    Glass

    $38

    Bottle

    Beaulieu Vyd Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

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

    Opulent layers of blackberry, black cherry and juicy plum unfold with complex nuances of violet and mocha. Ample, mature tannins provide firm structure and rich texture for the mouth-filling flavors. Nicely integrated hints of allspice, cinnamon, and caramel from toasted oak barrels and a lingering finish.

    $14.50

    Glass

    $55

    Bottle

    Beringer Estate Cabernet Sauvignon KV

    CA, Sonoma Co., Knights Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The vineyard has volcanic, well-drained soils that are perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of ripe black fruit, mocha, dried herbs and licorice. Opulent but structured, this versatile wine has supple blue and black fruit notes accented by dark chocolate, roasted coffee and a silky, lingering finish.

    $15

    Glass

    $58

    Bottle

    Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey Co.

    CA, Monterrey Co. Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Perfumed aromas of rich dark cherry, chocolate and undertones of vanilla and warm spices. Balanced fruit and oak fills the palate with cassis, cherry, toast, cedar and a hint of vanilla. Round but structured, with well-knit tannins that impart texture and length on the finish.

    $16.5

    Glass

    $58

    Bottle

    Double Canyon HHH Cabernet Sauvignon

    WA, Horse Heaven Hills Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Enticing array of ripe red fruit, intermixed with notes of graham cracker, allspice and dried tobacco. Addition of Syrah lends rich texture on the mid-palate, further accented by bright acidity from the Petit Verdot, sweet red fruit from Merlot and luscious raspberry notes of Malbec.

    $56

    Bottle

    Jackson Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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

    Rich blackberry, black currant and cassis flavors. Bone dry with thick, but refined long tannins and brightened by a burst of fruit and acidity. Blended with a little Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot for complexity.

    $62

    Bottle

    Mullan Road Cellars Red Blend

    WA, Columbia Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Musky aromas of dark raspberry, black cherry, chocolate and spices with a floral note. Herb and dark-fruit flavors are ripe and expressive. Medium to full-bodied, balanced and elegant on the palate showing fine-grained tannins.Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

    $70

    Bottle

    Hess Lion Tamer Cabernet Sauvignon

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

    Plush in texture with aromas of blackberries, black cherries and notes of freshly ground coffee. A touch of Malbec develops softness in the tannins, making this wine wonderfully smooth and seamless. Mouthwatering tannins surround the palate, framing layers of bright blueberry, subtle smoke and rich mocha.

    View Video

    $85

    Bottle

    Orin Swift 8 Years in the Desert

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of briar fruit, ripe blackberry and dark plum. Big mid-palate with complex flavors of ripe brambly fruit, a touch of earth and notes of espresso bean. Massive through to the finish with soft drying tannins. Blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah.

    $85

    Bottle

    Clos Du Bois Marlstone Red Blend

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

    Inky black color with a deep ruby hue. Complex aromas of black current, mocha, blackberry, and cedar. Followed by blackberry, black current, and hints of tobacco leaf with a lush silky texture that finishes with round chewy tannins.

    $85

    Bottle

    TPW Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Deliciously smooth with flavors of blueberry, dark cherry and cocoa. Aromas of fresh roasted coffee, black currant, vanilla bean, brown spice and wild berries.

    $85

    Bottle

    Flora Springs Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon

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

    Rich and concentrated with layers of blackberry jam, dark Santa Rosa plum, chocolate-covered cherry and fresh-scented wild fennel. Built on a framework of toasty oak that lends hints of vanilla and spice, this is a full-throttle wine with hefty tannins that promise a long life.

    $165

    Bottle

    Inglenook Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

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

    Highly aromatic, the palate reflects the nose with fragrant nuances of red and black fruits all enlivened by exotic spices, notes of tobacco and a touch of dark chocolate. This wine shows great texture, a freshness brought about by balanced natural acidity and a long, rapturous finish.

    $140

    Bottle

  • Dessert

    Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine (187ml)

    Canada, Niagara Peninsula Dessert / Vintage

    This richly textured wine displays fresh tropical aromas of papaya, mango and apricot. Bold fruit flavors are balanced with fine acidity creating a silky finish on the palate.

    $42

    Bottle

  • Salad

  • Light Appetizers

  • Cheese/Eggs

  • Soup/Rich Appetizers

  • Cured Meat

  • Pasta

  • Spicy Latin/Southwest

  • Fish

  • Rich Fish

  • White Meat

  • Red Meat

  • Sweets