What Is Your House Wine?

Hi folks! Today let’s talk about choosing your very own house wine.

How to choose your house wineA house wine is your “go to” bottle of choice: the wine that you know you enjoy drinking, is at a price point you are comfortable with and one you don’t mind sharing with others.

It’s the reliable wine you always have on hand and can pull out and serve without a second thought.

Consider these factors:

Price point

Determining a price range is a good place to start.

Some people choose “4 Buck Chuck” as their house wine.  They are delighted with the cost and happily stock up on cases of Charles Shaw wines at Trader Joe’s.

On the other end of the spectrum super oenophiles, lovers of all things fine in the wine department, would rather pass (literally, as in they’d rather die) than drink “cheap” wine.

Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

In deciding what you are comfortable with, think about a price you would be willing to spend on a bottle of wine for a random Tuesday night dinner.

Your house wine should be your everyday wine, not necessarily your “special occasion/using the fancy china” wine.

Pick A Type

Pinot Noir is a great choice for a red house wine. It pairs really well with most foods from meat to fish. There are lots of Pinot Noirs out there at virtually every price point.

Many wineries make a red blend. They take several different types of grapes (Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah, etc.) and combine them in one way or another to create something new.

Red blends go by all sorts of names. You might see Proprietary Red, some clever signature name chosen by the winery or simply Red Blend.

Choosing a red blend as your house wine might be the perfect way to please all and to expand your wine repertoire.

If you are going with white wine, you might choose a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. Both quite popular; they are wines that people know and understand.

Pinot Grigio is light and easy to drink. Many people think of it as a summer wine to be consumed ice cold on a hot day. That’s an excellent plan but Pinot Grigio can also be a great year-round option for those looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous Chardonnay.

I used to think I didn’t like Chardonnay. But I started forcing myself (it’s a tough job, right?) to try selections from different wineries and different countries and found I have a preference for certain styles and flavor profiles.

I prefer French Chardonnay

How about other white wine options?

What about a Viognier as your house wine? Viognier is like the white wine version of Pinot Noir in that it pairs very well with a variety of foods and drinks well on its own.

Many wineries also make a white blend. The same rules apply – an infinite variety of combinations make for an infinite variety in flavors. If you like the idea of a Chardonnay and a Viognier, look for a blend that combines the two.

Of course you could have both a house white and a house red. Something to think about…

Choose A Crowd Pleaser

Your house wine should definitely be something that you love but should also be kind of mainstream.  You may LOVE a big, juicy cabernet but it may be way too much for the every day palate.

Remember, the idea of a house wine is to have something that is easy for everyone to drink.

Storing Your House Wine

Once you choose a house wine, you will want to stock up. But don’t go crazy.

Plan ahead. Make sure you don’t buy more wine than you have storage space.

A wine refrigerator is ideal but, in a pinch, your wine can be stored, on its side, in a cool, dark place (closet, basement, kitchen cupboard away from the oven).

Wine can be stored for short periods of time in a kitchen refrigerator. But Dr. Vinny at Wine Spectator explains why it’s not a good idea for the long term health of your wine.

The short story is that your food refrigerator is too cold and too dry for wine. Read Dr. Vinny’s complete analysis here.

Making The Selection

Once you have decided on your budget and narrowed down some idea of your preferences, it is time for research.

Of course the best way to research wine is to taste it.

Make a trip to your grocery store, wine & liquor shop or warehouse store and start experimenting!

Wine at the Grocery Store

Seek advice from the staff. Even grocery stores and places like Costco have wine department managers who are quite knowledgeable about the wines they stock.

Tell the wine department expert that you are looking for a house wine. Describe your general wine preferences, mention a few of your favorite wines and let them know your budget.

Be adventurous and try new things!

The research process will lead you to find your “house wine” and might introduce you to some new, special, favorites.

One last thing to consider when deciding on a house wine is its availability.

You wouldn’t want to have your heart set on a particular brand and not have a ready supply of that specific wine. With the help of the wine department staff, choose something that is likely to always be on the shelf when you need to replenish your supply.

Variety is the spice of life.  But it’s also wonderful to have a wine you know you can always count on.

Your very own “House Wine”.

Do you have a house wine? How did you choose the wine? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

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Zsa Zsa And Her Pinot Grigio

Mo Wine Please

My pal Zsa Zsa loves Pinot Grigio. It’s her favorite. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her drink anything else.

Zsa Zsa likes her Pinot Grigio ice cold. Like, put-the-bottle-in-the-freezer-for-a-bit-before-serving kind of ice cold.

She always reminds me to unscrew the top first so the bottle doesn’t crack.

Zsa Zsa insists that she has never met a Pinot Grigio that she didn’t like. She says she never worries about her wine going bad because, “the grapes were picked yesterday”.

I have made it my mission to find new and interesting Pinot Grigio producers to add to Zsa Zsa’s collection.

2013 Chloe Valdadige D.O.C. Pinot Noir

2013 Chloe Pinot Grigio

I have to admit, the first thing that drew me to this wine as I perused the grocery store aisle was the beautiful label. So simple and elegant.

Well played, Chloe Wine Collection. Well played.

Although located in Northern California, Chloe Wine Collection sources its grapes from all over the world.

The grapes for the Pinot Grigio come from the Valdadige D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata or “controlled designation of origin” but it sounds way better in Italian).

This cool area in Northern Italy is perfect for growing Pinot Grigio.

This wine – around $13 per bottle – is definitely a step above its other modestly priced competitors.

“On the palate, this Pinot Grigio displays flavors of juicy white peach, soft melon, crisp apple and floral honeysuckle with a subtle undertone of Meyer lemon.”  

– via Chloewinecollection.com

It has nice body while maintaining the lightness that people like in a Pinot Grigio.

The 2013 Chloe Valdadige D.O.C. Pinot Grigio – Zsa Zsa tested, Zsa Zsa approved.

2013 Alexana Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

Alexana Pinot Grigio

Have you ever wondered why some wines are called Pinot Grigio and others are called Pinot Gris?

Well, here in a nutshell is the difference.

Although made from the same grape, Pinot Grigio refers to the wines from Italy (or produced elsewhere but following the Italian style) and Pinot Gris refers to the wines from the Alsace region of France (or produced elsewhere, like the Alexana Pinot Gris from Oregon, made in the Alsace style).

Pinot Grigio tends to be light, bright and crisp, favoring citrus notes.

Pinot Gris is richer and even a bit sweeter, favoring tropical fruit notes.

The 2013 Alexana Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is clean and crisp. Perhaps a touch sweet, but a savory-sweet if there is such a thing.

The tasting notes describe honeysuckle, apple, pear and wet stone on the nose and honey, stonefruit and celery seed on the palate.

(By the way, the description of “wet stone” might seem to be one of those Wacky Wine Reviews, but think of it more in terms of giving the wine a rich minerality, which is a good thing!)

This wine retails at $29 per bottle and, I believe, is only available through the winery. Alexana sells out of this lovely Pinot Gris every year. The 2014 vintage is available now.

Zsa Zsa has not yet had an opportunity to try the Alexana Pinot Gris. Maybe I’ll pull out a bottle the next time she comes over. I’m curious to know what she thinks!

Do you have a preference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio? Do you have any recommendations for Zsa Zsa?

Designated driver, Uber or cab

No one paid me to say this.

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