Finding the right wine is a matter of individual taste, but there are
tips and techniques every wine consumer should know. The following topics
provide a “How-To” Guide for selecting, ordering and tasting
How To Host a Texas Two-Sip
A Texas Two-Sip tasting is a blind tasting of Texas wines alongside comparable non-Texas
wines from the United States or other wine regions around the world. Download the materials
below to host your own Texas Two-Sip with family and friends.
Texas Red Varietals
Complex, tannin-laden red with lush flavors of plums, berries and spice.
Pair with beef dishes, turkey and hearty stews.
Lush, smoky red with a hint of vanilla and rich, dark fruits. Pair with
pizza, cabrito and tamales.
Smokey red with soft tannins, toasted oak, berries and plums. Pair with
beef stew, grilled meats, pizza and wild game.
Smooth-textured red varietal spiced with wild raspberries and licorice.
Pair with beef, pork, pasta dishes and cheese.
Full-bodied, bold and fruity red bursting with berries and spice. Pair
with BBQ, red pasta sauce and pizza.
Medium-to-full bodied red with a subtle, herbaceous flavor and soft
tannins. Pair with meatloaf, grilled tuna and eggplant parmesan.
Complex, hearty red with bold flavors of cherry, cedar and chocolate.
Pair with rack of lamb, T-bone steak and wild game.
Rich, smooth red with delicate notes of black cherries and cloves. Pair
with duck, salmon and turkey.
Deep, dark red with notes of raspberry, cinnamon, cherry-chocolate,
clove and brown sugar. Pair with raspberries and chocolate, as well
as duck, venison and brisket.
Texas White Varietals
Clean, crisp, well-balanced white with big flavors of citrus and oak.
Pair oak-aged with light beef with cream sauces or smoked chicken; unoaked
with lobster and veal.
Blanc du Bois
Light, fresh-finished white with notes of grapefruit and apples. Pair
with fish with lemon butter sauce, pasta Alfredo and pineapple chicken.
Creamy, slightly perfumed white with rich color and a fresh palate.
Pair with TexMex, gulf fried shrimp and oysters.
Intense, slightly spicy white with notes of floral, peach and apricot.
Pair with lettuce wraps (Chinese), white fish with mango salsa and paella.
Crisp, unobtrusive white accented by rich, fruit flavors and a floral
bouquet. Pair with Indian cuisine, Greek salad and Jamaican pork.
Silky smooth white with floral, grassy and delicate herbal properties.
Pair with fish, shrimp, cream soups and veggies.
Delicate, floral white with a dry, well-balanced finish. Pair with cheese
crepes, quiche and Waldorf salad.
Fruity, sweet white with notes of gooseberry and orange peel. Pair with
ice cream, dark chocolate and smoked salmon.
Light, fragrant white accented by coriander, peach and citrus flavors.
Pair with fish, pasta, raw vegetables and soups.
Fresh, fruity white retaining the zesty flavors of the grape. Pair with
chocolate, fresh fruit, fish and pasta.
Full-bodied, pungent white characterized by fruity, nutty flavors. Pair
with BBQ, sushi and blackened fish.
Bold and oaky, this sweet white carries hints of honey and figs. Pair
with fried catfish, olive tapenade and fried chicken, as well as blue
cheese or crème brûlèe.
How to Taste Wine
Wine tasting is a time-honored art anyone can enjoy. Enrich your satisfaction
with these easy and entertaining steps.
Seeing the Wine
Look at the wine in a glass. Pay attention to color (Is it red? Or
more maroon?) and clarity.
Tilt the glass and swirl. Is it clear or cloudy? Any sediment or
bits of floating cork?
Remember, an older red is more translucent, a younger red is opaque.
Smelling the Wine
Smell the wine. Gently swirl the glass to release the bouquet. Stick
your nose into the glass and inhale. Notice the complex aromas. Is
it floral? Fruity? Oaky? A pleasing bouquet is a wonderful indication
of a good wine.
Tasting the Wine
Take a small sip and roll it around on your tongue, then take a quick
breath and mix the wine with air. Did the flavors open up? Reds often
have an oaky or berry flavor. Whites are more likely fruity or floral.
Swallow. How does the wine finish? Does the flavor linger or pass
quickly? Consider the texture--is it light-bodied like water, or full-bodied
Your evaluation of the wine depends on your personal taste, but this
technique gives you the best overall reflection of the wine’s
How to Buy Texas Wines
Buying a Texas wine is as easy as following the “Three P’s”
Quality Texas wines are available in every price range, so choose a
bottle that is as pleasing to your pocketbook as it is to your palate.
Taste is a personal thing and you’ll establish your own preferences
as you become familiar with a variety of wines. But for a party or dinner,
there are guests preferences to consider. For experienced wine enthusiasts,
a full-bodied cabernet or syrah might be a wonderful selection. But
for those new to wine, the safer choice is a good merlot, pinot noir,
sauvignon blanc or muscat.
The selection process might be easier if you’re looking for something
to pair with dinner. The general rule is whites with poultry, fish and
highly-flavored foods. Choose reds for beef, game dishes and heavier
meals. And for dessert, choose a wine that’s sweeter than the
dish to be served (Port or Riesling are excellent choices.)
Remember, rules were made to be broken. The only important rule is
that you choose a Texas wine that you enjoy.
Texas Winery Listings
If you would like to order your favorite Texas wine, it is now
as simple as contacting the winery with your order and working out the
Decoding the Wine Label
A wine label can be daunting. Follow this guide to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of your next wine selection.
The facility (often a brand name) that produced the wine.
At least 75 percent of the wine is produced from grapes grown in the place named.
At least 75 percent of the wine is produced from grapes grown in Texas.
Wines with a Texas vineyard mean 100 percent of the wine came from grapes grown on this vineyard.
For Sale in Texas Only
Between 25 percent and 74.9 percent of the wine is made with Texas grapes, and this wine can only be sold in Texas.
Less than 25 percent of the wine is made with Texas grapes.
At least 85 percent of the wine was produced with grapes from that American Viticultural Area (AVA), a grape-growing region distinguished by geographical features.
The year the grapes used in the wine were harvested.
The kind of grapes that were used in the making of the wine.
Indicates the wine was made from grapes harvested on their own vineyard.
Learn more about decoding wine labels here.
How Wine Is Made
The winemaking process includes a few simple steps and a lot of skill.
Here are the basics.
Grapes are picked from the vineyard.
The grapes are examined for quality and ripeness and the best are chosen
for wine production.
A mechanized process of removing the stems and crushing the juice from
A tank process where the concoction is allowed to ferment.
A formulaic process of mixing grapes and flavors to create a particular
Wood barrels are commonly used to age wine for a period of months or
years, maximizing the flavor.
Wine has its own language. This glossary provides a brief description
of common wine terms.
The addition of acid (usually tartaric during fermentation, frequently
necessary in hot climates where grapes tend to over-ripen and become
deficient in acidity, thereby losing freshness.
The acids in a wine (principally tartaric, malic, citric and lactic)
provide liveliness, longevity and balance: too much leaves a sour or
sharp taste on the palate, while too little results in a flabby, shapeless
wine. If tannin is the spine of a wine, then acidity is its nervous
Barrel or Cask
Most of the world’s greatest wines are at least partially aged
in barrels, usually made from oak. A barrique is the standard Bordeaux
barrel, holding 225 liters or the equivalent of about 300 bottles of
wine. But casks may be as large as 100 hectoliters (i.e., 10,000 liters)
The addition of sugar during fermentation to increase a wine’s
The conversion of grape juice into wine through the action of yeasts
present in the juice, which turn sugar into alcohol. This alcoholic
fermentation is also known as primary fermentation. (See Malolactic
A method of clarifying and stabilizing wine to give it a pleasingly
lucid color and to remove yeasts, bacteria or other solid matter that
might otherwise spoil the wine after its has been bottled. Excessive
filtration, like excessive fining, can strip a wine of aroma, body,
texture and length.
A method of clarifying wine by pouring a coagulant (such as egg whites)
on top and letting it settle to the bottom. In general, a fining agent
is allowed to fall through the wine, while in filtration, the wine is
passed through a filter.
Solid residue (mostly dead yeast cells and grape pulp, pips and skins)
that remains in the cask after the wine has been drawn off. Many white
wines and some reds are kept on their lees for a period of time to protect
them from oxidation, enrich their textures and add complexity. Wines
protected by lees contact can often be made with less sulfur addition,
but careful technique is essential to ensure that off aromas don’t
A secondary fermentation in which the more tart malic acid is converted
into softer lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Malolactic fermentation,
which generally follows the alcoholic fermentation, is nearly always
carried out in red wines. Some producers of white wines encourage malolactic
fermentation, while others, especially those in hot regions that produce
grapes with low levels of acidity, avoid it in order to retain the wine’s
Grape juice not yet fermented or in the process of being fermented into
Transferring the wine from one cask to another to separate it from the
Solid matter deposited in a bottle during the course of the maturation
process. Sediment is generally a sign that the wine was not excessively
filtered prior to bottling.
The most common disinfectant for wine. Most winemakers feel that it
is nearly impossible to produce stable wine without judicious use of
sulfur products at one or more stages of vinification: just after the
harvest to thwart fermentation by the wrong yeasts, in the cellar to
prevent microbial spoilage and oxidation and at the time of bottling
to protect the wine against exposure to air. But as a general rule,
the amount of sulfur used in the production of fine wine has never been
lower than it is today.
A bitter, mouth-drying substance found in the skins. Stalks and pips
of the grapes – as well as in wood barrels. Tannin acts as a preservative
and is thus an important component if the wine is to be aged over a
long period. Tannins are frequently harsh in a young wine, but gradually
soften or dissipate as the wine ages in the bottle.
The various microorganisms that cause fermentation. Wild yeasts are
naturally present on grape skins, but cultivated yeasts are generally
used to control fermentation more carefully.
Wine Tasting Terms
The flavor that lingers in your mouth after you swallow the wine. The
length of the aftertaste is perhaps the single most reliable indicator
of wine quality (see Finish).
The primary smell of a young, unevolved wine, consisting of the odors
of the grape juice itself, of the fermentation process, and, if relevant,
of the oak barrels in which the wine was made or aged.
Having mouthpuckering tannins; such wines may merely need time to soften.
Tough, dry and unforthcoming, often due to a severe tannic structure
or simply to the extreme youth of a wine.
The ratio of a wine’s key components, including fruitiness, sweetness,
acidity, tannin and alcoholic strength. A balanced wine shows a harmony
of components, with no single element dominating.
The weight of a wine on the palate, determined by its alcoholic strength
and level of extract (see Extract). Wines are typically described as
ranging from light-bodied to full-bodied.
The richer, more complex fragrances that develop as a wine ages.
Not especially aromatic, most likely due to recent bottling or to the
particular stage of the wine’s development. Dumb is a synonym.
Contaminated by a tainted cork (caused by a chemical compound known
as 2,4,6-trichloroanisole and released by certain molds), which gives
the wine a musty, wet cardboard smell. Bad corks are a major problem,
as they can ruin otherwise sound bottles. By most accounts 2 to 5 bottles
out of 100 are affected by bad corks.
Refreshing, thanks to sound acidity.
Can be a component of complexity deriving from the wine’s distinctive
soil character or a pejorative description for a rustic wine.
Essentially the minerals and other trace elements in a wine; sugar-free
dry extract is everything in a wine except water, sugar, acids and alcohol.
High extract often gives wine a dusty, tactile impression of density.
It frequently serves to buffer, or mitigate, high alcohol or strong
Rich to the point of being unctuous, with modest balancing acidity.
The final taste left by a sip of wine after you swallow. Wines can be
said to have long or short finishes (see Aftertaste).
Perceptibly tannic and/or acidic, in a positive way.
Lacking acidity and therefore lacking shape.
Aromas and flavors that derive from the grape, as opposed to the winemaking
process or the barrels in which the wine was aged.
Too acid, raw or herbal; this may be due to under ripe grapes or stems
but may simply mean the wine needs time to develop.
An emphatically firm, tactile finish.
Too tannic or acidic; often a characteristic of a wine that needs more
time in bottle.
Slightly cooked flavors of jam rather than fresh fruit, often a characteristic
of red wines from hot climates.
Lacking flesh and body. Not necessarily pejorative, as some types of
wines are lean by nature.
Literally, the part of the tasting experience between the nose of the
wine and its finish. The impact of a wine in the mouth.
The physical impression of a wine in the mouth; its texture.
The aroma or bouquet.
Smell or taste of the oak cask in which the wine was vinified and/or
aged; oak notes can include such element as vanilla, clove, cinnamon,
cedar, smoke toast, bourbon and coffee.
Possessing a tired or stale taste due to excessive exposure to air.
An oxidized white wine may have a darker than normal or even brown color.
Generally high in alcohol and/or extract.
Unpleasantly bitter or hard-edged.
Low in tannin and/or acidity.
The faint prickle on the tongue of carbon dioxide (petillance in French),
generally found in young, light white wines.
An almost metallic taste often noted in wines high in acidity and/or
made from mineral-rich soil-especially Riesling.
Round and smooth, as opposed to noticeably tannic or acidic.
A term applied not just to wines with significant residue sugar but
also to those that show outstanding richness or ripeness.
Generally, a red wine that shows excessive tannin.
Literally wine-like, in terms of liveliness and acidity; but often used
to describe the overall impression conveyed by a wine beyond simple
fruitiness. This can include subtle flavors that come from the soil
that produced the grapes, as well as from the winemaking and aging process.
Slightly vinegary due to a high level of acetic acid, referred to as
volatile acidity (VA). But a minimum level of VA often helps to protect
a wine’s aromas without resulting in an unstable bottle. “High-toned”
is jargon for faintly volatile, and is not necessarily pejorative.