Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules…

Well, the truth be told. Rules are important. However many are subject to interpretation particularly Wine Rules. Sure, the experts recommend red wine with red meat and white wine with seafood as does Vastewine but when you are the ultimate decision maker experiment, be bold, take a risk, be adventurous…step outside the proverbial box and try new wines with your favorite foods. When you are ready to purchase some wine, check out the Vastewine Top Lists and pick an assortment of these wines and have your own “getting to know new grapes” tasting party. Have some various hors d’oeuvres from several different food groups and see how the diverse wines impact the taste combinations. The most important rule when it comes to drinking wine is to drink what you enjoy.

That being said, there are some guidelines to consider. The body category (light, medium, full) of a wine is based on the alcohol content. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that light body wines have 12.5 or less percent alcohol, medium is 12.5 to 13.5 % and full is anything over 13.5 %. Knowing the alcohol content (usually found on the back label) will assist in choosing which foods to pair with which wine. The following chart should help.

Red Wines

Light Body

Medium Body

Full Body

White Wines

Light Body

Medium Body

Full Body

Code Name:
Cab Driver

File Name: Pierre De’Savvy
Primary Food Specialty: Ribeye steak or anything that used to be cute…Seriously you think chrimp are cute?
Special Skills:  Making people tolerable at holiday parties
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France. California.

Cabernet Sauvignon, aka Cab Driver, is grown in different climates around the globe. Cab is a full-bodied red wine with dark fruit flavors. Cab is a very complex wine with higher tannins, pairing it well with Steak, Pizza, Burgers, and ribs. Although grown in various climates worldwide, the 2 most prominent regions are the Old World Bordeaux, which has a more herbal, earthy taste, and the New World California region, boasting a fruitier complex of flavors. U.S. made Cabernet’s can contain up to 25% of other grapes due to laws. Often times higher in price, Cabernet Sauvignon will not disappoint. It’s typically a dryer red wine and not very sweet but with a very smooth finish.

“Cab Driver will punch you in the mouth with its high alcohol content, leaving you begging to be hit with its black cherried leather bag fists over and over again.”

Code Name:

File Name: Le’ Merle Haglot
Primary Food Specialty: Any meat lamb and veal in particular
Secondary Food Specialty: cheese and desserts
Special Skills:  The perfect wine when you’re going for…brooding
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France

Merlot, the most popular wine grape planted in France, has been a widely sought after wine since its discovery in 1784. Merle, translated as “Blackbird” in French, gets its name from dark the wine’s dark blue color. Popular worldwide, Merlot is successfully grown in France, Italy, California, Australia, Chile and Argentina. Merlot will typically have higher sugar levels and alcohol and be sweeter than its arch nemesis, Cabernet Sauvignon. The acidity of a Merlot will be lower, however. Characteristics of Merlot will include chocolate, plum, black cherry, blueberry, raspberry, and licorice. For most Merlot’s, freshness of the fruit is a priority, making it one of the tastiest wines on the planet!

“Blackbird has the skills to soar over all the other wines when at its peak, making your palate scream for more.”

Code Name:

File Name: Kim Chardashian
Primary Food Specialty: Seafood
Secondary Food Specialty: Whatever people eat at brunch
Special Skills:  Making Brenda from HR frantically erase an Instagram post
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France. California.

Chardonnay, the most popular white wine grape in the world, hails from the wonderful region of Burgandy, France. There is not a wine region in the world where you won’t find Chardonnay being made. With that being said, the variety of aromas and tastes you will find from each region will vary widely depending on the climate. In cooler climates, bottles of Chardonnay will deliver apple, pear, and other citrus fruit flavors, with a wonderful bite of acidity. In moderate climates, the fruits will dull a bit and have medium acidity. In the warmer regions, you will find more tropical tastes like pineapple and banana, also with a medium acidic finish. There are also 2 major divisions when it comes to Chardonnay….those who love the buttery, oak barreled and those who enjoy the more old world style of “unoaked” Chardonnay.

“Chardalicious will grab that cheese tray by the throat, toss it around.”

Code Name:
Sho Sho Schweet

File Name: Gunter Sweet
Primary Food Specialty: Chicken, Pork, Ham
Secondary Food Specialty: Dark Chocolate or anything bitter
Special Skills:  Can sometimes be used to knock out the Kool Aid Man!
Birthplace: Germany

Riesling, one of the great white wines around the world, originated in the Rhine region of Germany. This very aromatic grape displays flowery, perfumed aromas and high acidity. Depending on the region, Riesling can be dry, sweet, or semi-sweet. The primary regions that Riesling strives in are Germany, Alsace, and the United States. The dry versions of Riesling will exhibit tastes of green apple, citrus and peach. The sweeter versions can be quite unique, oftentimes producing flavors of tropical fruit, honey, and spice. Many regions make special Riesling dessert wines with grapes that dry on the vine. Riesling is a wonderful white wine that should be served cold, and has a vast array of uses when paired with food.

“The Rhine Slinger will lure you in with perfume and flowers, then bite you in the tongue with its acidic punch.”

Code Name:
Captain Everybody

File Name:Franc CabZinMerMal
Primary Food Specialty: Varies depending on blend
Special Skills:  Yeah, it still varies
Birthplace: Earth.

You’re expecting me to just type “It’s a red wine. And it’s blended.” Well, yeah…pretty much. Red Blends are actually more complex than that, however. Depending on the region, most red blends will start with a base grape, such as Merlot or Zinfandel. Other varietals will then be added to the wine for taste, acidity, and complexity. Depending on the mix, the aromas and tastes can be very deep and rich. When looking at different red blends, focus on the primary grape varietals that you already like. If you are a Cabernet Sauvignon fan, for example, try to find a blend that is based with Cabernet. Most red blends with match well with a variety of meats, so you can’t really go wrong there.

“Captain Everybody is a strong, burly wine that likes to bring his friends to the palate brawl.”

Code Name:
Tastee Mcsweetness

File Name: John Malbecovich
Primary Food Specialty: Pork, Poultry
Secondary Food Specialty: …Fair Food…
Special Skills:  The ability to taste very close to what you imagine wine to taste like when you’re a child but not taste like Kool-aid
Birthplace: France and Argentina

Malbec is as purple as the Pie Man and equally as sweet as Shortcake …but not in a cheesy way although it does pair amazingly with literally any cheese that doesn’t smell like a hobos sock. This rich, luscious wine has notes of plum and ample tannins. It’s deep color and full body might make you think it would be a bit dry but instead Malbecs are rich, dark and juicy. A little on the sweet side but usually with a very complicated finish.  Although they are primarily brought to life in France and Argentina they pair amazingly well with American junk food.  Usually when you say “What pairs well with a cheeseburger?” the joke is ….Bud Light but a Malbec is also an absolutely perfect pairing with food that you will probably regret eating but will never regret a good Malbec.

“John Malbecovich just makes everything a little quirky and a little better…even a chili dog.”

Code Name:
Wild Thing

File Name: Gwyneth Paltrow
Primary Food Specialty:The Whitest Fish Possible…like the fish with a beard and Ipad in a starbucks
Secondary Food Specialty: Oysters and veggies
Special Skills:  In 1/2 a glass or less a selfie will be taken.
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France. California.

Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful green-skinned grape from Bordeaux France. It’s a very crisp and fresh wine that works perfectly with cheese or seafood. It gets it’s name Wild Thing by the French words Sauvage (“Wild”) and blanc meaning “can’t dance”. This wine is usually consumed young because aging really doesn’t improve the flavor.  You can also find many Sauvignon Blanc’s bottled with a screwcap rather than a cork. This is because Sauvignon Blanc aka Wild Thing doesn’t need to be told what to do…and doesn’t like it.  Unless you’re saying GO TO BRUNCH!  Sauvignon Blanc loves to go to brunch or sushi night.

“Wild Thing….I think I love you but I want… another clean plate for some fruit at brunch.”

Code Name: 
Gris Lightning

File Name: Gregario Pinato
Primary Food Specialty: Seafood
Secondary Food Specialty: Pasta
Special Skills:  Tasting fancy yet being available in a quickie mart.
Birthplace: Northeastern Italy

Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, is a worldwide leader in the white wine industry. Famous for its zesty acidity and clean citrus flavors, Pinot Grigio pairs amazingly with most seafood and pastas. Primarily your palate will be overwhelmed with tastes of lime, green apples, lemons, pears, and nectarines. Depending on where the grapes are grown, aromas of honeysuckle and fresh honey will please your senses. For Italian versions, the wine will be totally dry with high acidity. The French counterparts will have a refreshing bite of honey. The American Pinot Grigio’s will have more powerful fruit flavors with less acidity. Ultimately, Pinot Grigio with its 3 different styles can make a tasting party very interesting!

“Gris Lightning hits your palate so fast with its high acidity, you won’t actually know what hit you….but you will definitely beg for more.”

Code Name:
Little Sarah

File Name: Don’t Call Me Durif
Primary Food Specialty: Any beef or pork dish
Secondary Food Specialty: Tomato based pasta dishes, Pizza
Special Skills:  Existential crisis
Birthplace: Australia, California, France, and Israel

Durif or Petite Sirah is a variety of red grape. It’s a wonderful grape so wonderful that it needs 2 names apparently. Wines made out of Durif/Petite Sirah are very tannic wines with a spicy, plummy, fruit forward flavor.

In the 1800’s a French botanist Francois Durif had grape plantings of both Peloursin and Syrah and at some point Marvin Gaye went back in time and the two vines cross pollinated and a new grape variety was born.  So Durif being a very modest and humble man named it Durif. Then everyone else who didn’t like him said….lets call it Petite Sirah.

Code Name: Original Zin

File Name: Primitivo
Primary Food Specialty: Beef, Lamb or any strong meats
Secondary Food Specialty: Rich spicy sauces pastas, and pizzas
Special Skills:  Kicking in the teeth of latent sugars
Birthplace: Croatia

Zinfandel also known at Primitivo is a dark black-skinned grape. It’s like Edgar Allen Poe had a Taylor Swift coverband. Zinfandel grapes produce a robust red wine. The grape has a high sugar content which can translate into alchohol levels exceeding 15 percent. Despite the heavy sugar content Zinfandels typically would be considered as one of the most dry wines available.

Red berry fruit flavors, blackberry, anise, and pepper notes make up this very complex wine.

Code Name:
Chay What

File Name: Desperate Housewife
Primary Food Specialty: Any seafood dish, or chicken
Secondary Food Specialty: Tomato based pasta dishes, Pizza
Special Skills:  Gunfighting in your mouth, Making it awkward when someone asks “what kind of dancing?”
Birthplace: Burgundy region of France

Chablis is a an extremely dry white wine. It’s known for the purity of its aroma and flavor. It typically isn’t touched with oak because it’s vinified in stainless steel tanks. The amount of barrel maturation or complete lack thereof gives Chablis a distinctive steel flavor.

Chablis has been called “goût de pierre à fusil” which means tasting of gunflint.  It often pairs really well with strong seafood.

Code Name: X Blanc

File Name: Mutant White
Primary Food Specialty: Seafood and Chicken
Secondary Food Specialty: Cream sauce pastas
Special Skills:  Lots of stories of Hannibal crossing the Rhyne.
Birthplace: France, and Catalonia, Northern Spain

Grenache Blanc is rumored to have originated as a mutation of Grenache in Spain. Grenache Blanc is typically characterized by high alcohol and low acidity.  Citrus and herb notes round out a very complex finish.

Grenache Blanc is a full-bodied white wine. It’s known for very intense flavors and high alcohol content. Most would compare it to Chardonnay.

The aromas have a strong note of citrus like unripe mango, lime zest, asian pear, and green apple. It also can be a little bit floral with notes of honesuckle.

Code Name:
Black Head Pietro

File Name: Not So Serious Black
Primary Food Specialty: Any beef or pork dish
Secondary Food Specialty: Tomato based pasta dishes, Pizza
Special Skills:  Tasting like Marvin Gaye sounds
Birthplace: Australia, United States, Germany, United Kingdon, France, and …ok…just about everywhere

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety. The name comes from the French words pine and black because the grape has tightly clustered pine cone shaped bunches of fruit.

PInot Noir wines tend to have rich aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. The thin skins and low levels of phenotic compounds create a lightly colored, medium bodied and low tannin wine.

Code Name: Smuckers

File Name: Vinho do Porto
Primary Food Specialty: Dessert
Secondary Food Specialty: Stanky Cheese
Special Skills:  Making anything seem thin by comparison
Birthplace: Portuquese but also Australia, France, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the United States.

Port is a a fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits typically from Portugal. It is typically a very sweet, red wine, usually served as a dessert wine. It can be very dry but typically it’s a little more on the sweet fruit forward side and very full bodied.

Port isn’t as much a grape as a treatment. Port is typically richer, sweeter, heavier, and higher in alcohol than unfortified wines. This is because of the addition of distilled grapes spirits to fortify the wine and halt fermentation before all the sugar is converted to about 19% to 20% alcohol.

Code Name:
Gross Point Blanc

File Name: Wiener Burgunder
Primary Food Specialty:  Fancy -just fancy
Secondary Food Specialty: Cream based pasta
Special Skills:  Invisibility
Birthplace: Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary, and Czech Republic

Pinot Blanc is a white wine grape. You have to be careful with Pinot Blanc it’s unstable and might just lose it’s mess and mutate int a bear…..or a vine that bears all black fruit. Except for some of them that produce white fruit.  So…you just don’t know because Pinot Blanc or otherwise known as Wiener Burgunder which loosely translates to …”Do you remember where I parked my car?”

Pinot Blanc often has fruity aromas, apple, citrus fruit, and floral characteristics.  Sometimes they have stronger floral characteristics, fruits, and mineral undertones.

Code Name: The Grauburgunder

File Name: Vitis Vinifiera
Primary Food Specialty: Roast Chicken
Secondary Food Specialty: not quite roast chicken
Special Skills:  Finding it’s way onto boats with wood trim
Birthplace: France

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape many think is actually a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. That may make you think that this grape can read minds, or shoot laser beams, or make people tell the truth at brunch and you would be right.  The grape itself normally has a blue fruit but they can also have a brownish pink to black appearance. The word pinot is usually given to grapes like this that grow in a small pine cone-shaped clusters.

Pinot gris flavors can range from ripe tropical fruits like melon and mango.

Code Name: 
Rosé Hey Ofunnel

File Name: Pinky and duhbrain
Primary Food Specialty:  Seafood and light pasta
Secondary Food Specialty: Lamb
Special Skills:  adding extra r’s to…”go gurrrrrl!”
Birthplace: …The Garden of Eden?

Rosé is isn’t really a grape as much as it is a grape treatment. It is possibly the oldest known type of wine because it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method adding color to the wine. The pink color can range greatly depending on how the wine was made. Just because they are pink you can’t assume they will be sweet. Rosé wines vary greatly from extremely dry to sweeter than riesling. Rosé wines can be made from almost any grape and are found all over the world. Rosé is made when black skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period of time usually less than a day. This imparts a pink color and the longer the skins are left in the more intense the flavor and dark the color.

Some will try and fake a rosé by mixing red wine into white wine…these people don’t get freaked out by the McRib and shouldn’t be trusted with wine.

Code Name: 

Mysterious Syrah

File Name: Shazam
Primary Food Specialty: Roast Beef
Secondary Food Specialty: Beefy stews, heavily spiced and rich dishes
Special Skills:  Being confused when someone asks it’s name
Birthplace: France

also known as Syrah, it’s a dark skinned grape prevalent world wide. Usually medium to full bodied the climate of where the grape comes from can heavily influence the taste of the wine.  It can vary from high levels of tannins with notes of blackberry, mint, and black pepper to softer tannined with notes of fruit, spice, anise, and licorice.

Shiraz has been widely used as a blending grape in popular red blends. It is thought best to age for decades but less aged wines tend to have very lively red and blueberry characteristics.

Aroma characteristics tend to be heavy with deep dark berries, black pepper, chocolate, and even hints of coffee.

Shiraz is a delicious confused enigma…so don’t ask it questions just pour it.

Code Name:
Traminer Sweet

File Name: Spice Girl
Primary Food Specialty:  Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisine
Secondary Food Specialty: Fatty Wild Game
Special Skills:  Sweet and Low
Birthplace: Germany

The first thing that hits the nose when you taste this wine is lychee which is something like a sweet rose. Sometimes it also has complex aromatics including  grapefruit, rose petal, ginger and a smoky aroma like incense. it will have an inherently sweet flavor simply due to the smell. Generally, Gewürztraminer has an extremely low residual sugar (RS).Because of the heightened aromatics, so although it’s typically quite dry because of this it can seem very sweet.

Gewürztraminer best pairings happen when you pair it with asian or middle eastern cuisine.

Code Name: Mus becandy

File Name: Almost Moscato
Primary Food Specialty: Spicy Food
Secondary Food Specialty: chocolate and soft cheese
Special Skills:  Adding extra R’s in “Go Girrrrl”
Birthplace: Italy

This italian grape can take on a pink or dark red, even brown color. The berries are quite small, which is where the strain of Muscat takes its name from. Also known as Moscato. Muscat is one of the oldest wine grapes on the planet. It is thought that the Romans brought the vines to France more than 2,000 years ago.

Muscat tends to exhibit the characteristic Muscat “grapey” aroma as well as citrus, rose and peach notes. Fortified and aged examples have notes of coffee, fruit cake, raisins and toffee.

Code Name: 
New Kid On The Block

File Name: Frenchy Fresh
Primary Food Specialty:  Hot Smoked Salmon
Secondary Food Specialty: Roasted Turkey
Special Skills:  Explodes fruit in your mouth like a bag of wine skittles.
Birthplace: France, specifically the Burgundy Region

Beaujolais is a light red wine and is unique in that it is made with Gamay grapes. These wines boast a fresh, fruity yet mineral type taste. There are several varieties of Beaujolais, with the most popular being Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale each November. Typical notes of cherry, strawberry and raspberry are often found in Beaujolais wines.

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Code Name: 

Just call me Shiraz

File Name: Not Petite
Primary Food Specialty: Barbecue
Secondary Food Specialty: Grilled or Roast Beef
Special Skills:  Sneaky dark fruit punch like Batman hits your palate
Birthplace: Rhone Valley, France. California

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a full bodied red wine. Made with dark fruit flavors, Syrah will fill your palate with exciting and always interesting flavors. From Blueberry to Black Olive, with possibly some licorice along the way, Syrah with initially punch you in the mouth with extreme flavor, while eventually tapering off with a peppery finish.

Shiraz has been widely used as a blending grape in popular red blends. It is thought best to age for decades but less aged wines tend to have very lively red and blueberry characteristics.

Aroma characteristics tend to be heavy with deep dark berries, black pepper, chocolate, and even hints of coffee.

Code Name:
Drizzled Honey

File Name: Sweet Saturn
Primary Food Specialty:  Blue Cheese
Secondary Food Specialty: Fruity Desserts
Special Skills:  Is sweeter than your spouse ever has been
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France

Sauternes is a French sweet wine made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes. Extreme sweetness will hit your palate here, with notes of peaches, apricots, and lots of honey. Served slightly chilled, Sauternes is a great dessert wine perfect for any celebration.

Code Name: French Sweetie

File Name: I’m going Blanc here
Primary Food Specialty: Seafood, specifically shellfish
Secondary Food Specialty: Pork, Veal, Chicken
Special Skills:  So rich and oily in taste it will remind you of a politician
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France

Semillon is a white sweet wine from the Bordeaux region of France, and is one of only 3 white wines approved in that region. Sweet in nature, Semillon has an oily texture, making it one of the more unique wines out there. Semillon grapes, although sweet, are often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to create a dry wine. Notes of Lemon will be proficient with Semillon wines.

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