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Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of fruit, usually grapes.  There are four broad categories:  table wines, sparkling wines, fortified wines, and fruit wines.  Table wines are the most common, and they're grouped by color--red, white, and blush, which is sometimes called rosé.  A red wine should be served at room temperature, and it goes well with hearty, meat-based dishes like steak and spaghetti.  White and blush wines should be served chilled, and they go best with lighter fare, like fish and chicken.  Many wines, called varietals, are named after the variety of grape used to make them.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir are popular red varietals, while Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Johannisberg Riesling are popular white ones.  In Europe, some wines, often blends of different varietals, are named after the place where the wine is produced, like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, Rhine, and Rhône.  These European wines are often superb, but American wines that have borrowed these regional names, like California Chablis, are almost always mediocre.  If you're buying a domestic wine, it's often better to go with a varietal, like a California Cabernet Sauvignon.   Substitutes:  equal parts grape juice and broth (in stews and sauces) OR wine essence OR coffee (in baked chocolate or nut dishes) OR fruit juice (in baked fruit dishes) OR vinegar (in marinades) OR broth OR verjus (in salad dressings) OR lemon juice (in salad dressings)



red wines

white wines

blush wines

sparkling wines

dessert wines

fruit wines

fortified wines

rice wines


Other classifications:

aromatized wine = flavored wine   Notes: These are wines, like vermouth and retsina, that have been flavored, usually with herbs and spices.  

cooking wine  Notes:   You should never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink, but some "cooking wines" sold at stores violate this maxim.   Avoid them and instead cook with inexpensive, but drinkable, table wines.   Avoid putting wine in aluminum or iron pans for prolonged periods. 

de-alcoholized wine = dealcoholized wine   Notes:    These aren't as flavorful as ordinary wine, but they're a good choice for people who want to drink wine without consuming alcohol.   Sparkling wines are the most popular de-alcoholized wines, but other varieties are also available.  Many brands contain small amounts of alcohol.     Substitutes:  wine essence OR sparkling grape juice OR sparkling cider OR equal parts verjus and club soda, sweetened to taste with simple syrup. OR wine (Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, so cooking with wine will eliminate some or even most of the alcohol, but not all of it.)


Kosher wine = Passover wine   Notes:  This is wine that's been made in accordance with Rabbinical law.   Most people think of them as syrupy-sweet screw-top wines made with Concord grapes, but some kosher wines are now being produced that are indistinguishable from quality non-kosher wines.  Unless pasteurized, a wine can only remain kosher if it's poured by an observant Jew.  Bottles of pasteurized wine sport the label "mevushal." 

table wine = still wine   Notes:    Table wines are intended to be served with meals, and they're often classified by color:  red, white or rosé.  


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