“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” –Benjamin Franklin
Wine has been called many things: poetry, irresistible, and the very breath that keeps us alive. Wine, in its various colors and styles, can accompany almost any meal, and be ideal in almost any setting. But learning which wine goes with which meat and how different colors or varieties came into existence may seem a bit intimidating! You’re afraid of ordering the wrong kind in a restaurant, or not knowing the qualities of a particular vintage. Here in Vail, we’re serious about our wine, but we want you to learn to be serious, too. You’ll enjoy your dining experience much more when you’re confident that you’re ordering the proper wine with your meal. We’ll start with the basics. Here’s a look at the differences between red and white wines.
White wines are generally made with white grapes, which are actually green. Sometimes, white wine is made with black grapes, because the juice from those grapes is actually clear. White grapes tend to come from regions with cooler temperatures, so if you’re looking for white wines, it would benefit you to learn where those cooler regions are. White wines are also generally aged for shorter times than reds. A lightweight white may not be aged at all, while some may be aged for less than seven years. The exception would be dessert, of which some vintages may age for forty years.
When ordering at a restaurant, keep in mind that red wine such as Malbec would go well with smoked meats, while a chardonnay pairs well with dishes such as our Organic Scottish Salmon.
Red wines are made from black grapes with blue or purple hues. In most grape varieties, the color is all in the skin, so skins are used in the fermentation process. The grape skins also contain some of the tannins, which add texture to the wine. Tannins will add bitterness or astringency to the wine, depending on the variety of grape (and thus the amount and type of tannins). While all grapes start out green, many green grapes are just immature black grapes and not meant to be eaten. The grapes will turn color when the seed inside is mature enough to be germinated. The ripening process also matures the tannins within the fruit, making the fruit less bitter tasting as the tannins are minimized.
Red wines are generally aged longer than whites. This allows reds to develop a more robust flavor, and give you a different mouth feel when you taste them. Drinking wine is more of an experience than just pouring liquid into your mouth and swallowing. Drinking wine is an event, where one savors the smell, feel, and texture of the wine, and red wines are blended specifically to enhance that experience. Aging is a component of that experience; a Cabernet of a particular vintage may be aged fifteen years, and a Merlot for just four.
A Malbec might go best with a meal with earthy flavors, such as our Cherry Balsamic Glazed Belgium Endive entrée, while a Pinot Grigio would go perfect with our Yellowfin Tuna Au Poivre. Our restaurant in Vail has an extensive wine list, giving you the opportunity to choose a unique wine to complement your dining experience each time you visit. If you’re still not sure, our staff is prepared to help you choose the perfect vintage for your meal. We may be serious about wine in Vail, but we also love to see you enjoying the occasion when you dine with us!