Happy Wine Wednesday everyone! How are we all doing during these crazy times? Does everyone still have enough wine left to get us through the rest of quarantine? I know mine is definitely running a little low because if there is one thing getting me through missing out on wine tasting, it is wine at home! Therefore, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite varietals of wine and see which is your favorite. The Visit Napa Valley site is also a great tool to learn more about the different types of varietals grown in wine country.
The powerhouse, the game changer to any meal with a good steak or heavy pasta dish, the most planted grape in all of Napa Valley. Thats right, Cabernet Sauvignon has over twenty thousand acres of vineyards planted in wine country. But I am not going to lie, the first time I tried Cabernet, heck the first time I tried wine in general, believe it or not I was not a fan…say what!?!? I know crazy right? I waited until I was almost 22 to try my first sip of alcohol, yes you read that correctly, I did not even want to drink wine at church when I was growing up. I simply had no desire, but once I began to try different kinds of wine, my palette grew to love the complexity and deliciousness that wine offers.
This included the robust Cabernet Sauvignon and once I moved to Napa Valley in 2017, the heart of wine country, I fell even more in love with Cabernet. Since this varietal is the most planted in all of wine country, it is quite impressive to see how each winery (over 400 in Napa) puts their own spin on this iconic wine. Some of my favorite tasting experiences in Napa have been side by sides of Cabernet Sauvignon. Over time this varietal has become my favorite, the bolder the better!
My earliest memories of Chardonnay was at family BBQs at the pool with you guessed it, ice cubes in the glass. I had always heard white wine was “unhealthy” for you and contained a lot of sugar. Therefore, I actually avoided all white wine for a long time. Thankfully, some good friends of mine first introduced me to “good” high quality white wine, and I was intrigued. I had never known white wine, especially Chardonnay, to be so complex and beautiful.
After trying that delicious Chardonnay with my friends, my passion for wine tasting only grew. Especially since the first wines you usually try on most of the winery’s portfolio while tasting is a white wine, whether Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, etc. Going wine tasting was exciting because it was something new every time, think of trying a new restaurant every weekend. Each winery has its own unique story, wines, atmosphere, and experience.
I do not remember the exact moment I first tried a Pinot Noir or even what winery it was from, but I do know that I fell in love. Lately, I have been exploring my romance with Pinot Noir even more to analyze all the complexities of this wine. I like that it isn’t a knock your socks off kind of wine like a big Cabernet can be. Most Pinot Noirs are smooth, elegant, and pair perfectly with a light pasta, chicken, or even a stew. Some can be bolder with more tannins, which shows the range this grape can produce based on growing climates and production from various wineries.
While I was living in Napa Valley, most great Pinots were being sourced from the Sonoma Coast. This wine region is known for producing some very high quality Pinot Noir from the colder climates in the appellation which allows the grapes aromas to develop. When you have the chance to try some Sonoma Pinot Noir you are in for a real treat!
During these crazy quarantine times, these three varietals seem to be my go-to lately. As we are headed into warmer weather here is Southern California (can’t wait for summer!) I probably won’t be drinking as much Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are still perfect for the warmer months, including my other two favorites; Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé.