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The Haskell's Essential Wine Guide


About Haskells

Wine is a celebration of the people and the history in each bottle. We’re proud to be Minnesota’s family connection to the world of wines and spirits.Since 1934 we have been serving the world he finest wines, spirits and brews. We have enjoyed many Minnesota milestones as the wine and spirits vendor of the Twin Cities, but our greatest pleasure comes from helping you, our valued customers, with your family celebrations.

Chapter 1. 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

Semi dry whites:
Chenin Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc

Blush wines:

Most younger dessert wines
Less expensive sparkling wines.

Rose Wines best served “cellar cooled”

Higher-quality sparkling and blush wines
White Burgundy
Pinot Grigio
Rhône whites
Young reds (Beaujolais, etc.)
Younger Ports
Older dessert/sweet whites
Fino Sherry.

Wines best served “almost room temperature”

Most Bordeaux
Red Burgundy
Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir
Vintage port

Basic Wine Bottle Shapes

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.08.41 AM1. 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 Rhein, colored brown in Germany’s Rhein 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

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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.09.52 AM

1. Champagne flute

2. Bordeaux red wine glass

3. Burgundy red wine glass

4. White wine glass

5. Sherry glass

6. Port glass

Chapter 2. Pairing Food and 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.

Interested in more pairings?

Get the Essential Wine Guide ►

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.

Selecting 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.

  2. Serve your light-bodied wines before your full-bodied wines.

  3. Good wine should be served before great wine.

  4. Young wine should be served before old wine.

  5. Be sure to serve your dry wine before sweet. (Exceptions – for a first course of foie gras, serve a late harvest Sauterne or Gewürtztraminer.)

  6. You can cleanse your palate before drinking a different wine by rinsing your mouth out with water.

  7. A lighter dish should be served with a light-bodied wine, and a heavier dish should be served with a full-bodied wine.

  8. White wine for fish, shellfish, white meat, poultry, and veal.

  9. Red wine for dark meat, chicken, duck, tuna, and salmon.

  10. Is your dish made with cream sauce? Choose white wine.

  11. If you’re cooking a dish with wine, drink the same wine you cooked with.

  12. Sparkling wines can be enjoyed at any time during the meal.

Chapter 3. Decoding Wine

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

Wine 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 – the more it beads on the side of the glass, the closer it is to full-bodied.

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 Sparking 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.

Vintage Champagne vs Non-Vintage Champagne


In Europe, the only sparkling wines that are allowed to use the name “champagne” are the wines that come from the Champagne region. 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. 

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.

Where is Champagne From?

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 Wines

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
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

Chapter 4. Types of Wine

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:

Serving Temperature:
54˚ F

Lasts Two Days After Opened

Bold Red Wines

Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Malbec, Tempranillo

Calories Per Glass:

Serving Temperature:
62˚ F

Lasts 4 Days After Opened

Fortified Wines

Port, Sherry, Madeira, Vermouth

Calories Per Glass:

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

Bordeaux-St. Émilion/Pomerol

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

Bordeaux - Pessac / Graves / Sauternes

#1 Best: Château Haut-Brion


Mâcon-Villages, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint Véran


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


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


Chapter 5. 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 wine

  • 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.

Watch the Video

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.



Download the Essential Wine Guide

Get the most out of your wine with these serving tips and tricks. Learn basic food and wine pairings based on the custom and culture of the regions producing each wine. Start your understanding of wine terms, basics of aging wine and an intro to sparkling wines.

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