The Haskell's Essential Wine Guide




Wine Serving Basics

Get the most out of your wine with these serving tips and tricks.

Serving Wine: The Right Temperature

Getting the correct temperature is just as important as choosing the correct type of wine. When served warm, white wine becomes dull and bland; red wine loses its scent and most of its flavor when chilled.


So, how do you chill wine?

Household refrigerators are generally set at 40°F, which means that it will take a bottle about 3 hours to chill. Note: Leaving wine in the fridge for a long period of time can cause the cork to stick and the wine to oxidize. Never chill wine in the freezer or store wine in the refrigerator, chill wines on the day you intend to serve them. To chill wine quickly, place the bottle in a bucket of water and ice for about fifteen minutes.


Wines best served chilled (40-45˚F)

Semi dry whites like Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, etc., blush wines, rosés, Muscat, most younger dessert wines, and less expensive sparkling wines.

Wines best served “cellar cooled” (46-55˚F)

Higher-quality sparkling and blush wines, white Burgundy, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Rhône whites, young reds (Beaujolais, etc.), younger Ports, older dessert/sweet whites, and fino Sherry. 

Wines best served “almost room temperature” (56-65˚F)

Most Bordeaux, Red Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and vintage port.

Basic Wine Bottle Shapes

Basic Wine Bottle Shapes

Wine bottles come in many shapes and sizes:

1. Slope-shouldered, pale green bottle, used in Burgundy, Loire, and Rhône as well as throughout most of the world for wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz.

2. High-shouldered, dark green glass bottle, the standard for Bordeaux red wines. This bottle is also generally used around the world for wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Chianti. In clear glass, this bottle is used for Bordeaux white wines in France, and in other countries for Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon wines.

3. Tall, slender bottle called “hock” or Rhine, colored brown in Germany’s Rhine region and green in Alsace, France, and in the Mosel region of Germany. This shape is used elsewhere for grape varieties associated with Germany, such as White Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

4. Champagne (or other sparkling wine).

5. Broad-shouldered, long-necked bottle used for Sherry and Port.



Choosing a Wine Glass 

Choosing a Wine Glass


1. Champagne flute

2. Bordeaux red wine glass

3. Burgundy red wine glass

4. White wine glass

5. Sherry glass

6. Port glass



A proper wine glass allows you to enjoy the color, bouquet, and taste of a wine while discovering the balance, complexity, and harmony of the individual character. The wine glass should be made of clear crystal, the stem should not be too long or too short, and the top should be slightly narrower around than the bottom, allowing the bouquet to gather at the top. If possible, avoid colored and over-decorated glasses to truly experience the wine.

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cht2-01Pairing Food & Wine

Learn basic food and wine pairings based on the custom and culture of the regions producing each wine.

Red Wines

Cabernet-based and Red Bordeaux:

Leg or rack of lamb roast, shoulder or saddles of roast lamb, porterhouse steak, New York steak, rib eye roast, filet mignon, sweetbreads, roast duck or goose.

Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella (Veneto, Italy):

Polenta, risotto, pasta with seafood, pizza, light meat dishes.

Pinot Noir (Burgundy):

Roast chicken, capon, partridge, hare, roast duck or goose, grilled tuna, salmon, beef Bourguignon.

Syrah/Shiraz (Hermitage, Cote-Rotie):

Grilled or roast beef, venison, game meat, birds, BBQ, pizza.

Sangiovese (Chianti, Central Italy):

Roast pork and chicken, pasta, risotto, grilled vegetables, pizza, Italian sausage.

Zinfandel, Primativo (California):

Hamburgers, pot roast, grilled chicken and vegetables, pizza, BBQ, enchiladas.

Grenache (France, Spain, California):

Grilled meat, poultry and vegetables, ratatouille.

Malbec (Argentina, California):

Steak, roast turkey, grilled duck, pasta Bolognese, lasagna, Mexican chicken mole, pizza.

White Zinfandel, White Merlot (California):

Seafood salads, pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables, Mexican food.

Merlot (St. Emilion/Pomerol):

Beef and lamb roast (as above), venison, grilled top sirloin steak, roast, or grilled chicken. Avoid too much garlic or heavy cream sauces.

Pinotage (South Africa):

Barbequed spare ribs, char-grilled meats, flank steak, carne asada.


White Wines

Chardonnay (Burgundy, Chablis):

White fish grilled or steamed, sole, flounder, halibut, cod, swordfish, salmon, scallops, lobster, roast veal or chicken, pasta with seafood or chicken.

White Riesling (Rhein), Gewurztraminer (Alsace):

Roast or grilled veal or pork loin, sausage with choucroute, smoked salmon, foie gras, Peking duck, sushi.

Sauvignon Blanc (Bordeaux):

Fish, shrimp or prawn, steamed shellfish, sautéed calamari, sushi or sashimi, fresh oysters.

Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley):

Shrimp, prawns, lobster, oysters, sushi or sashimi, shellfish, grilled trout.

Pinot Grigio (Italy):

Pasta dishes, grilled chicken, scampi, veal parmigiana or scaloppine.

Sparkling Wine (Champagne):

Caviar, fresh oysters, lobster, gravlax, sushi.

grapesSelecting Wine for a Menu  

Here are some basic guidelines when it comes to choosing wine for your menu:

  1. In general, serve white wine before red.
  1. Serve your light-bodied wines before your full-bodied wines.
  1. Good wine should be served before great wine.
  1. Young wine should be served before old wine.
  1. Be sure to serve your dry wine before sweet. (Exceptions – for a first course of foie gras, serve a late harvest Sauterne or Gewürtztraminer.)
  1. You can cleanse your palate before drinking a different wine by rinsing your mouth out with water.
  1. A lighter dish should be served with a light-bodied wine, and a heavier dish should be served with a full-bodied wine.
  1. White wine for fish, shellfish, white meat, poultry, and veal.
  1. Red wine for dark meat, chicken, duck, tuna, and salmon.
  2. Is your dish made with cream sauce? Choose white wine.
  1. If you’re cooking a dish with wine, drink the same wine you cooked with.
  1. Sparkling wines can be enjoyed at any time during the meal. 


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Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.

- Plautus

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Decoding Wine

Start your understanding of wine terms, basics of aging wine and an intro to sparkling wines.


Wine Tasting Vocabulary

Aroma: This is a generally positive descriptor for the smell of a wine (e.g, fruity, spicy, earthy, etc.).

Astringent: Typical of high tannin wines, this means the wine leaves a puckery, drying sensation in the mouth. Typical of young Cabernets, Zinfandels, and other reds.

Balanced: Refers to the harmonious balance of a wine’s components (sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol, oak, etc.).

Berrylike: Describes a wine with a distinct fruity character. Common fruits are blackberry (typical of Zinfandel), cherry (common in Pinot Noir), and black currant (Cabernet Sauvignon).

Body: This describes the density or viscosity of a wine. The body of a wine can be thin, light, medium, or full. You can check the body of a wine by swirling your glass and watching how the wine clings to the glass – 14% full body, 12% medium, and 10% light.

Bouquet: This is similar to an aroma, but not quite the same. The bouquet refers to the complex scent that a wine develops over time during the aging process.

Complex: This term is used to describe a wine that is multidimensional in terms of aroma, flavor, etc.

Crisp: This trait is typical of wines with high acidity. A crisp wine will leave a lively sensation on the palate, similar to tartness.

Floral: This describes a wine that has an aroma of flowers. This aroma can be found in white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer (carnation, orange blossom, jasmine, grapefruits, rose petals, etc.) and in reds like Pinot Noir (roses, violets, etc.).

Fruity: This characteristic means the wine has a sweetness, richness, or body coming from ripe grapes. Specific fruits are often used in the description.

Nose: This is the total of all the aromas and odors that can be smelled.

Oaky: This refers to the aroma that is derived from oak barrel aging – it is usually described as “vanilla-like”.

Spicy: This refers to the aroma of common spices found in wine – cinnamon, cloves, anise, and black pepper are all common spices.



Best of Sparkling Wines 

Good champagne can be expensive for many reasons:

  • Good champagne is made with the Méthode Champenoise, which is the traditional method used to make champagne.
  • Good champagne uses classic techniques, like a second round of fermentation in the bottle.
  • The fermentation process should be a hands-on operation when it comes to good champagne.



Usually blended from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, the wines of Champagne are both the finest sparkling wines of the world and among the finest wines of any kind. These grapes can also be blended with different vintage wines to create a “Cuvée” blend. In Europe, the only sparkling wines that are allowed to use the name “Champagne” are the wines that come from the Champagne region.

Vintage Champagne:

This champagne is only made with the outstanding grapes harvested in select years, and it must be aged for at least three years. Some examples of vintage champagnes include Dom Pérignon (Moét & Chandon), Comtes de Champagne (Taittinger), Belle Epoque (Perrier-Jouët), and Grande Dame (Veuve Clicquot).

Non-Vintage Champagne:

Most non-vintage champagnes produced are blends of wines that have been aged for at least two years.

The Finest Champagne Cellars:

Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchêne, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heidsieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Lauret Perrier, Mercier, Moét & Chandon, Mumm Perier-Jouët, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot.

The Other Regions:

Loire Valley, France (Crémante); Asti (Spumanti) and Veneto (Prosecco), Italy; and Catalonia Spain (Cava). Cava is the most popular sparkling wine in the world.


For sparkling wine, California uses white grapes like Chenin Blanc, Berger, Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Noir. We recommend these cellars: Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Jordan, Mumm Cuvée Napa, and Schramsberg.

Typical Wine Aging Times

There is a common misconception that wine always improves with age, but not every wine has good aging potential. Here is a list of wines that might be worth the wait.

Red Wine

Barbera 3-10 years

Cabernet Sauvignon 3-10 years

Grenache 2-10 years

Malbec 2-10 years

Merlot 2-10 years

Mourvedre 2-8 years

Nebbiolo 3-15 years

Pinot Noir 2-12 years

Pinotage 2-5 years

Sangiovese 2-10 years

Syrah/Petite Sirah/Shiraz 3-15 years

Tempranillo 2-10 years

White Merlot 1-3 years

White Zinfandel/Rosé 1-3 years

Zinfandel 3-10 years 

White Wine

Chardonnay 2-8 years

Chenin Blanc 1-3 years

Gewürztraminer 1-3 years

Muscadet 1-5 years

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio 1-4 years

Sauvignon Blanc 1-4 years

Semillon 1-3 years

Viognier 1-3 years

White Riesling 1-3 years







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cht banners-02Wine Reference

Wines are defined by their types and regions of origin, each wine has its own distinguishing features. 

Basic Wine Types

White Wines

Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chardonnay

Calories Per Glass: 110 - 170

Serving Temperature: 43˚-54˚ F

Lasts One Week After Opened

Rose Wines

Provence, Granache, Syrah, Tavel, White Zinfandel

Calories Per Glass: 110 - 170

Serving Temperature: 48˚ F

Lasts One Week After Opened

Light Red Wines

Pinot Noir, Gamay, Nebbiolo, Granache

Calories Per Glass: 120-180

Serving Temperature: 54˚ F

Lasts Two Days After Opened

Bold Red Wines

Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Malbec, Tempranillo

Calories Per Glass: 150-200

Serving Temperature: 62˚ F

Lasts 4 Days After Opened

Fortified Wines

Port, Sherry, Madeira, Vermouth

Calories Per Glass: 150-165

Serving Temperature: 50-65˚ F

Lasts Up To 30 Days After Opened

Wine by Region  



  • Ruby: Youngest style of port, rich red color, fruity
  • Tawny: Tawny in color, mellow, rich, and very fine
  • Vintage: The best port of a single year: powerful, intense, sweet and long lived
  • Colheita: Vintage Tawny Port


  • Sercial: The lightest and driest
  • Verdelho: Sweeter and stronger than Sercial
  • Boal: Fuller and sweeter than Sercial and Verdelho
  • Malmsey: Richest, darkest, sweetest




Andalusia-Jerez (Sherry)

  • Fino: Lightest and driest, pale color, tangy, young
  • Olorosó: Dark, rich dry, full-bodied
  • Cream: Sweetened Olorosó


  • Ampurdán, Alella, Penedès
  • Home of Spain’s sparkling wine (Cava) – fresh and crisp white wine
  • Unique reds in the Priorat
  • First rate white and red wines in the Costers del Segre


  • Home of some of Spain's most famous wines
  • Wines can age very well
  • Tempranillo is the most widely used variety in red wines from Rioja
  • Wines can be red, white or rosé





  • Soave, Bianca di Custoza, Prosecco di Canegliano. Amarone, Valpolicella, Bardolino


  • Chianti, Chianti Classico, Rufina, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano

Trentino-Alto Adige

  • Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

  • Tocai, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco


  • Gavi and Cortese di Gavi, Asti and Moscati d’Asti
  • Best two red wines: Barolo, Barbaresco


  • Orvieto Classico, Est! Est! Est!!!, Orvieto, Montefalco





  • Blanc de Blancs: (made only with Chardonnay)
  • Blanc de Noirs: Pinot Noir grape
  • Brut: Dry
  • Extrasec (or) Extra Dry: Medium dry
  • Sec: (slightly sweet)
  • Demi-sec: Sweet


  • #1 Best: Chablis Grand Cru
  • #2 Chablis Premier
  • #3 Chablis
  • #4 Petit Chablis

Burgundy-Cote D'or

  • Côte de Beaune: Best white, e.g Montrachet
  • Côte de Nuits: Best red, e.g. Chambertin, Vougeot, Vosne- Romañee


  • Mâcon-Villages, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint Véran

Bordeaux-St. Émilion/Pomerol

  • Best St. Émilion: Château Ausone, Cheval Blanc; Best Pomerol: Château Petrus


  • St. Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, Moulis


  • #1 Best: Château Haut-Brion


  • Gran Vin d’Alsace (50 of the best rated vineyards)


  • Côte de Provence, Bandol, Cassis; produces some of the best rosé wines

Loire Valley

  • Sancerre/Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Muscadet

Rhone Valley

  • North Valley: Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Condrieu
  • South Valley: Côtes du Rhône. Châteauneuf-du-Pape

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A gourmet meal without a glass of wine just seems tragic to me somehow.

-Kathy Mattea

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Wine Recipes

Now that you know all about wines, here are a few classic wine recipes to take your wine knowledge to the next level. 

Fritzi’s Spritzy Sangria

2 bottle of red winesangria

1 cup Brandy

4 oranges, sliced

3 limes, sliced

3 lemons, sliced

2 liters Ginger Ale

Add all ingredients together (except Ginger Ale) and let brew over night. Before you serve, add Ginger Ale and pour over ice.

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French 75


1 cup sugar

1 ounce gin or cognac

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

2 ounces champagne

Lemon twist

Make simple syrup: In a saucepan over low heat, warm sugar in 1 cup water until dissolved. Cool to room temperature before using. There will be extra syrup; refrigerate if not using immediately.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake gin or Cognac, lemon juice and ½ ounce of simple syrup. Strain into a chilled flute or cocktail coupe. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

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Wine brings light to the hidden secrets of the soul.

- Horace

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