When it comes to easy entertaining, there's no drink we love more than sangria! While we enjoy many variations, such as berry Rosé or green grape, there's nothing like the classic red wine version. Want to learn how to make it? Watch the video now and see how basic sangria is done.
Hearing words like "tannins" and "oxidation" may make you feel like you're back in chemistry class, but they're oh-so important to the wines we enjoy on the regular. Don't let them intimidate you, though — getting familiar with wine's most common terms can be as easy as pouring a glass of red at the end of a long day. Brush up on these words, and you'll be moving past "sweet" and "dry" in no time so that when you go wine tasting again, you'll be the pro with all the insider knowledge.
- Acidity: The bitter or sour flavors that a wine gives off.
- Aeration: The act of exposing wine to oxygen to let it "breathe" and mix with air. This is meant to open up the wine's aromas and soften up the flavor.
- Appellation: A specific geographic region where a wine comes from.
Keep reading for more glossary terms
While we often talk about wine as a pairing with food, it's also a great ingredient to go in food. Cook up these eight recipes that give your favorite whites and reds a different function — braising and simmering included. Whether you use your party leftovers or brand-new bottles, we'll cheers to their newfound purpose in the kitchen.
Ever since I had my first sip of Carignane (from Sonoma County's Qualia wines), I've been a woman obsessed, seeking out the light and juicy red at every opportunity. Once considered barely drinkable dreck, Carignane — also known as Carignan (France), Carignano (Italy), or Cariñena (Spain) — has recently begun to overcome its unsavory reputation, as is evidenced by its increasing prominence, and I couldn't be happier. Here's why you should care:
- Originally the most planted grape in France (grown primarily in the southern Languedoc region), the grape suffered from overabundance, poor stewardship, and a quantity over quality mentality. Until recently, it was most commonly utilized in harsh, prohibitively astringent, generic vin rouge blends and garnered little respect in the wine world.
- Over the past few decades, yields have dramatically decreased with about a 50 percent reduction in vine acreage, largely in part due to EU subsidies that encouraged vintners to pull up large crops of the grape, leaving behind primarily older-growth grapes. With this shift came an uptick in quality, as older vines tend to produce a more concentrated, less harsh flavor, as Carignane, like many high-yield grapes, tends to suffer from dilution of flavor.
We've entered the last week in our new series, Six Weeks of Culinary Resolutions, wherein we vow to tackle a different gastronomic goal each week.
Surely you know how to drink wine — but do you know how to really taste it? In week six, we'll show you how to expand your wine knowledge, learning how to better taste and understand the vast, complicated world of wine.
Stay tuned for features on everything from obscure wine varietals (Carignane, anyone?) to how to visit wineries and talk to sommeliers. Got any special requests for us? Be sure to leave them in our comments below.
Tasting and Pairing Wine
How to pair wine
To make wine explode, pair it with popcorn
Our favorite sparkling wines
Top white wines under $15
Best reds under $15
Top Italian wine picks
What to do with your leftover wine
Wine Varietals and Regions
Get into the Grüner Veltliner groove
Why you should care about Carignane
What to know about Grenache
Hail to Glera, the grape responsible for Prosecco
Champagne: how it's made
What you should know about New Zealand's Sauvignon Blancs
Why isn't Riesling found in most wine blends?
4 lesser-known wine varietals you should know
5 reasons you should be drinking wine from Rioja
Burning question: what's a meritage blend?
Further Suggested Reading
Learn how to make a basic red wine sangria
What makes wine kosher, anyway?
Wine by the numbers: what goes into the cost of a glass?
Eat, don't drink your wine: recipes to use up those reds and whites
We've all been in this predicament: you opened a fresh bottle of wine, poured yourself a glass, then realized weeks later that you wasted tons of vino. This may have been a bummer in the past, but it's time to rethink this age-old problem. Leftover wine does not need to go to waste down the drain; it can be repurposed for sheer culinary delight. Here are three easy ways to make the most of your old wine.
- Make homemade vinegar. Pour your leftover wine into a covered container (make sure it's not airtight!) and set it in a cool, dark location to allow it to ferment. The solution will start off murky, but you'll see it clarify with time. Once you see a white skin at the bottom, a bacterial culture known as the "mother," the homemade vinegar is ready to incorporate into your favorite recipes.
The first time you make wine into vinegar, you'll have to wait several months. But after the initial cultivation, you can whip up new batches of vinegar every few weeks using the original mother.
- Deglaze your pan. Deglazing may seem like an intimidating term, but chances are you're deglazing your pan all the time without even knowing it — that is, adding a bit more liquid and cooking off the goodness at the bottom of the pan. If you're typically adding stock in this process, add some wine instead to bring a whole new richness and complexity of flavors to your dish.
Keep reading for the last way to make the most out of leftover wine.
Recently, while savoring glass of excellent Champagne, I had a horrible realization that I know nothing about the way Champagne is produced. Sure, I could read the label, pair it with food, and select a decent bottle, but when it came to the hard-core technique that is the methode Champenoise (or methode traditionelle), I knew very little. Naturally, I decided to learn all about it and share the process with you.
- It begins like any other winemaking procedure: the grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay) are harvested, pressed, and the juice is placed in vats.
- Next yeast is added. The yeast reacts with the sugar in the grapes, and this produces alcohol. This takes about six months. At this point, the wine is flat. Thus begins the second fermentation process that turns it into bubbly.
Champagne and sparkling wine are pretty fancy on their own, but if you're looking to make the moment even more special, we've got a few simple ideas for you.
- Use berries: Drop a few fresh raspberries or blackberries in your glass for a fruity addition. The delicate champagne bubbles will get trapped in the berry, and you'll be left with a fizzy treat at the end of your drink. Pomegranate seeds are another great option, as they float really sweetly among the bubbles.
- Make a champagne cocktail: This classic libation involves a sugar cube, bitters, and just a touch of Armagnac.
- Play with interesting liqueurs: A bit of cassis transforms a glass of champagne into a kir royale. Play around with your favorite liqueurs, like St-Germain or crème de violette, to create memorable drinks.
- Create a sugar rim: Get crafty with your champagne glass by using sanding sugar. Colorful sugar rims are unexpected and playful.
- Make a strawberry garnish: A strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint can make a lovely garnish — one that makes any occasion even more celebratory.
How do you like to fancy up your glass of bubbly?
While many people squirrel away sparkling wines for special occasions, we tend to live by the mantra that anytime is a good time to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly. Thankfully, the rest of the world shares our enthusiasm around this time of the year. We've been hard at work popping bottle after bottle to discover downright delicious sparkling wines (for any budget!) to enjoy on New Year's Eve — or, of course, any time of the year. Click through to see them all — and share your sips with us. What'll you be drinking come Dec. 31?
It may not be exactly what the doctor ordered, but we'd argue that the best cure for long nights and harsh weather is a hearty helping of wine. So crack open one of these enticing bottles, pour yourself a glass (or two), and feel the warmth spread through your chest and chilled bones. Cheers!
Photos: Nicole Perry