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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

  • 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

    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

    The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc

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

    Lifted notes of gooseberry and passionfruit, underpinned with citrus notes. The palate is full with pure fruit flavors, yet balanced with a persistent, crisp mineral finish.

    View Video

    $8

    Glass

    $31

    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

  • 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

    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

    A to Z Unoaked Chardonnay

    Oregon Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Aromas of tangerines, lime zest, white flowers, apricots, honeydew and wet stones. On the palate, floral and juicy citrus flavors mirroring the aromatics with flavors offering depth, balanced by acidity and concentration. Bright and focused finish of wet stones and citrus.

    View Video

    $10.50

    Glass

    $40

    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

  • 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

    Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling

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

    Embodying the elegant and racy style of classic Mosel Riesling, this wine is refreshing and fruity, with a fine mineral edge that is typical of the region. The grapes used to make Dr. L come exclusively from traditional vineyards with steep slopes and slate soil.

    $7.75

    Glass

    $28

    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

  • Fruity, Light-Bodied Red

    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

    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

    A to Z Pinot Noir

    Oregon Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Beautifully balanced between richness and brightness with hints of strawberry and raspberry fruit flavors.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $46

    Bottle

    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

  • 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

    $10.50

    Glass

    $38

    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

    Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

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

    Dark cherry, plum and chocolate aromas with undertones of vanilla, clove, black pepper and sage. Well-balanced fruit and oak elements fill the palate with cassis, cherry, dark berry, toast, cedar and a hint of vanilla. Round but structured with tannins that impart texture and length.

    $16.50

    Glass

    $58

    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