Great Wine is For Everyone (21 and older)

Life is full of choices and our wine departments are no different. We offer a great selection of wine varieties from regions all over the world, not to mention right here in Washington. Here are a few of our favorite wine varietals.

White Wines

Riesling

(Rees-ling)

Germany's Rhein and Mosel river valleys were the starting point for this popular and versatile wine. "Johannisberg" and "White" rieslings are considered the authentic versions, while other wines labeled "Riesling," (i.e. Grey Riesling), are entirely different wines. When looking for a dry style of Riesling, watch for the word "trocken" (German for "dry") on the label. If you're searching for a sweeter Riesling, then look for "Auslese" on the label.

Prominent Growing Regions: Historically the classic grape of the Rhine and Mosel regions of Germany, riesling is grown today in most popular wine regions. Germany, however, still makes some of the greatest Rieslings - usually slightly sweet, with balanced out by higher acidity. Rieslings from Alsace and the Eastern U.S. are also popular - equally aromatic but typically drier (not sweet). California Rieslings have been less successful, usually ending up too sweet without sufficient acidity for balance.

Aromas & Flavors: Typically, fresh apple is the dominant aroma of riesling, accompanied by peach, pear and floral undertones. The wine comes in both a dry and sweet variation, and overall is much lighter than Chardonnay wines.

Food pairings: Sweet rieslings are great alone as desert wines, and dry rieslings are go well with appetizers, pork, poultry or fish. Rieslings are also able to handle spicy, zesty Asian foods.

Sauvignon Blanc

(soh-vin-yohn blonk)

A green-skinned variety originally cultivated in the Bordeaux region of France. Sauvage blanc translates to "white wild," referring to its indigenousness to southwest France.

New Zealand has taken the grape to new heights in the cooler Marlborough region, resulting in high quality wines with notes of gooseberry and tropical fruit. Sauvignon Blanc is usually a dry, white wine with distinctively herbaceous qualities.

Prominent Growing Regions: France, New Zealand, Australia, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California

Aromas & Flavors: Typically light-to-medium bodied, with an herbal character suggesting bell pepper or fresh-cut grass. The dominating flavors range from sour green fruits of apples, pears and gooseberries through to tropical fruits of melon, mango and blackcurrant. Quality unoaked Sauvignon Blancs will be noticeably smokey.

Food pairings: Sauvignon Blanc is a very food-friendly wine and terrific for appetizers such as artichoke dip, veggie dishes or dips, garlic and cream sauces, bold flavored salads - like Greek, Caesar or Garden, Thai food, fish (sushi), poultry, white fish and the list goes on.

Chardonnay

(Shar-dun-nay)

This is number one selling and most popular white wine in America. The characteristics of the grape itself contributed to the wine's popularity - it has a "low-maintenance" vine that adapts well to various climates and can achieve high yields in most any arable land. That means you can get a fantastic quality wine for $7-$12 a bottle.

Prominent Growing Regions: Originated in Burgundy (France), but now grown all over the world.

Aromas & Flavors: Wider-bodied and more velvety than other dry whites, with fresh citrus (lemon, grapefruit) flavors. Buttery, vanilla and toffee flavors when staged in oak. Some California chardonnays carry hints of melon, toasted bread and a creamy finish. Burgundy chardonnays can taste very different with longer lasting palate impressions of apple, pear and lemon.

Food pairings: Poultry, pork, or seafood dishes, and recipes that have a heavy cream base.

Sémillon

(Say-mee-yawn)

Prominent Growing Regions: Sémillon is the major white grape in the Bordeaux region of France, but is also prominent in Chile, Argentina, Australia, and California.

Aromas & Flavors: The grape features distinct fig-like character, and is often blended with sauvignon blanc to create a syrupy, full-bodied wine - accenting its strong berry-like flavors.

Food pairings: Semillon goes well with fish, and if it's a dry Semillon - clams, mussels, or pasta salad.

Muscat

(Muss-cat)

Muscat grapes are used in numerous regions of the world to make a variety of sweet dessert wines. Typically, these wines are fortified, though some sweet late harvest and noble rot wines are also made from Muscat grapes.

Prominent Growing Regions: Muscat grows in most vine-friendly climates, including the Rhône Valley, Italy (where it is called moscato) and Austria (where it is called muskateller).

Aromas & Flavors: Often sweet and always fruity, with hints grapefruit and musky scent. Muscat wines are easily recognizable once you've tasted one.

Food pairings: Muscat drinks best on its own.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

(Pee-no gree-she-oh) (Pee-no gree)

Pinot Grigio is one of Italy's most popular white wines, beginning it's roots in the Northeast region of Veneto and Friuli. A light, crisp white wine with a notably smooth, silk-like texture to the tongue. Pinot Grigio is generally best consumed when young.

Prominent Growing Regions: Planted extensively in the Venezia and Alto-Adige regions of Italy. In Germany and Austria the wine is known as Ruländer or Grauer Burgunder. Pinot Grigio is also grown in the western coastal regions of the U.S.A.

Aromas & Flavors: Pinot gris can produce crisp, dry wines with good acidic "bite". Alsace Pinot Gris carry aromatic, fruity flavors that enhance after a couple of years in the bottle. Pinot Grigio flavors range from melon to pear and sometimes even subtle tropical or citrus fruit, often paired with either a honey or smoky flavor. Pinot Grigio is typically a pale, straw-like yellow with some golden hues thrown in.

Food pairings: Pinot Grigio pairs nicely with seafood, light pastas and cheese cracker combinations. Since this wine is fairly acidic itself, avoid pairing with foods that have high acid contents, like citrus fruits or tomato-based recipes.

Gewürztraminer

(Gah-vurtz-tra-meener)

A very aromatic, white grape grown predominantly in France, Germany, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, where the climate leans to the cooler side and the flavors have an opportunity to concentrate.

Prominent Growing Regions: gewürztraminer is best-known from Alsace, Germany, the U.S. West Coast, and New York.

Aromas & Flavors: Fruity flavored with aromas of honey, rose petals, peaches, lychees, and allspice. Gewürztraminers are made in dry or sweet varieties, and are generally best if enjoyed early on, rather than aged. Other flavors qualities include honey, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, apricot, pear, rose, citrus, and minerals.

Food pairings: This wine is ideal for sipping. It can fit spicy food, pork and grilled sausages. These wines tend to pair well with Asian dishes or zesty-flavored fare like BBQ or chicken wings. The flavor and aromas often include rose, pear, citrus, spice and mineral.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir

(Pee-no na-wahr)

One of France's most prized wines, pinot noir is a tough grape to grow - demanding warmer days paired with cool evenings - but the end result is well worth the extra effort. Originally started in the Burgundy region of France, pinot noir is now planted in regions around the world including: Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Italy.

Its stringent growing requirements and smaller yields make Pinot Noir slightly pricier than other popular reds.

Prominent Growing Regions: One of the great reds of Burgundy, France, and good wines from Austria, California, Oregon, and New Zealand.

Aromas & Flavors: Sweet, red berries, plums, tomatoes, cherries and at often a earthy or wood-like flavor is present, depending on the soil and climate.

This wine is very unlike Cabernet Sauvignon. The structure is fresh, delicate and usually soft in the tannin department. Pinot Noir has a very fruity (cherry, strawberry, plum), often with notes of tea-leaf, musty earth, or worn leather.

Food pairings: Excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, and lamb. Pinot Noir is well-suited to pair with poultry, beef, fish, ham, lamb and pork. The wine's versatility allows it to pair well with creamy sauces, spicy seasonings a variety of different dishes.

Syrah/Shiraz

(sear-rah) (shur-raws)

Both are produced from the same grape, but grown in different regions. Australia and South Africa known for their bold, spicy Shiraz, which had spawned from the popular, peppery French Syrah.

Prominent Growing Regions: Rhone region of France, Australia, South Africa, California.

Aromas & Flavors: Hearty and spicy with firm tannins (although typically ripe and smooth, not astringent to the tongue, like many younger reds), rich flavors of black cherry, plum, blackberry, bell pepper, clove, licorice, dark chocolate and smoked meat. Toffee notes if staged in oak barrels.

Food pairings: Grilled meats or veggies, hearty stews, wild game, and meat lover's pizza. Goes well with fatty meats, such as a pork chop, as the tannins help to cut through the fat oils.

Merlot

(mare-low)

The softness and drinkability of this grape the perfect wine for beginning red-wine drinkers. The grape originated from the Bordeaux region of France and produces a soft, medium-bodied red wine with juicy fruit flavors.

Prominent Growing Regions: France, Italy, Romania, California, Washington State, Chile, Australia.

Aromas & Flavors: Moderately tannic but less so than Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is typically "fruit forward," most notably with black cherry, plums, blueberries and blackberries - accompanied by black pepper tones.

Food pairings: Poultry, red meat, pork, pastas, salads. Don't be afraid to pair with anything else, as this wine is unusually versatile.

Cabernet sauvignon

(Ca-burr-nay so-vin-yawn)

This grape is sometimes referred to as "The King of Red Wine Grapes," and is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest wine varieties. Cab Sauv is often staged in oak and takes longer than other wines to mature, making it a popular wine to age.

Prominent Growing Regions: Prevalent in most red-grape growing regions of Europe, as well as Australia, Chile and the U.S. (most notably California).

Aromas & Flavors: Cabernets can range from medium-bodied to full-bodied and usually have strong tannins. The grape's wine is rich with hints of ripe berry, tobacco and sometimes green bell peppers. When staged in oak, vanilla notes become present.

Food pairings: Best with simply prepared red meats, hearty pastas with tomato sauce, lamb, strong-flavored cheese, and dark chocolates - Yum!

Malbec

(Mal-bek)

We consider this wine to be highly underrated. In France it is typically used for blending, but in Argentina malbec has reclaimed its glory and quickly become the country's signature grape.

Prominent Growing Regions: Malbec has its origins in the Bordeaux region of France. It is grown as côt in the Loire Valley and auxerrois in Cahors. Malbec has also been recognized as médoc noir or pressac in France. Malbec is widely grown in Argentina, where it is the most popular red grape variety. It is also available in Chile, in Australia, and in the cooler regions of California.

Aromas & Flavors: Malbec's characteristics vary greatly depending on where it is grown and how it was fermented. Generally it produces an easy-drinking style, well colored wine that tastes of plums, berries, and spice.

Malbec is often blended with other varieties such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot to make Bordeaux style wines. Malbec and some such blends may present some health benefits. Ripe fruit flavors of plums and blackberry give it the flavor of a sugary jam. The tannins are quick but noticeable, and the earthy, wood-like scents makes for an almost rustic wine.

Food pairings: All types of meat-based meals. This is surely a red meat wine that is versatile enough to stand up to Mexican, Cajun, Indian or Italian fare (especially with tomato-based sauces).

Zinfandel

(Zin-fan-dell)

Perhaps the world's most versatile wine grape, making everything from blush wine (White Zinfandel), to rich, heavy reds. Zin has been a foundation to the California wine scene since the mid-1800s. White Zinfandel wine is made from the red Zinfandel grape, but the grape skins are quickly removed after they are crushed so there is significantly less contact time with the heavily pigmented red grape skin, resulting in a pink/rose colored wine, instead of a deep red wine. Zinfandel, meaning the red wine, is known for its rich, dark color scheme, medium to high tannin levels and a higher alcohol content.

Prominent Growing Regions: California, Croatia and Italy.

Aromas & Flavors: Often a zesty flavor with berry and pepper. The Zinfandel feature flavors include: raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plums, raisins, spice and black pepper all intertwined with varying intensities of oakiness.

Food pairings: Depending on the freshness/heaviness of the wine; tomato-sauce pastas, pizza, and grilled and barbecued meats. White Zinfandel pairs well with a massive variety of foods, ranging from Cajun fare to Asian fare, from BBQ chicken to heavy-duty seafood entrees.

Sangiovese

(San-geo-vay-say)

This grape is Italy's most abundantly planted red grape varietal, boasting more than a dozen distinct clones. It has thin-skin and tends to linger longer on the vine, taking its time to reach full maturation. Sangiovese finds its agricultural heartland in central Italy, specifically the region of Tuscany. Italian Chianti and Chianti Classico wines are prime examples of popular wines produced predominantly from Sangiovese grapes.

Prominent Growing Regions: Sangiovese produces the Chiantis of Italy's Tuscany region. California is also known for growing and producing great Sangiovese wines.

Aromas & Flavors: The primary body is medium with plum, strawberry, cinnamon and vanilla. Typically Sangiovese wines' tannic structure ranges from medium-soft to firm. Sangiovese typically carries a higher acidity content with a finish varying from smooth to bitter.

Food pairings: A great choice for Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines. Well-matched for the flavors of chicken, red meat, fish, lamb, pork, pastas, stews or well-aged cheeses.