Learn characteristics of 4 popular wine varietals

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Consumers who are unaccustomed to ordering wine to enjoy at home can benefit from a rundown of the characteristics of these four popular varietals, each of which is available for purchase at a local winery. Valley News/Courtesy photo

TEMECULA – Small businesses suffered considerable losses when stay-at-home measures were implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The food and beverage industry was hit especially hard, with one report from the National Restaurant Association estimating that industrywide losses in sales would be as high as $240 billion by the end of 2020.

While restaurant owners and their employees bore the brunt of those losses, local beverage providers, including craft breweries and wineries, suffered as well. Many consumers resolved to support local businesses as best they could, placing orders for delivery and curbside pickup. Consumers who are unaccustomed to ordering wine to enjoy at home can benefit from a rundown of the characteristics of these four popular varietals, each of which is available for purchase at a local winery.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Widely available and incredibly popular, cabernet sauvignons are typically bold wines that are rich in flavor. Cabernet sauvignons are derived from a full-bodied red grape, which is why they are often described as “full-bodied.” Tannins are a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants and seeds that are predominantly in red wines, and those in cabernet sauvignons are bold. Some cabernet sauvignons elicit tastes similar to baking spices, while others may taste more like black cherry or black currant.

Pinot Noir

Another popular, widely available varietal, pinot noirs boast a low tannin finish that gives them a fruity taste reminiscent of cherry or cranberry. Pinot noirs are light-bodied and smooth. The alcohol content in pinot noirs tends to be lower than that of a typical cabernet sauvignon.

Riesling

Rieslings are white wines that are popular thanks in large part to their sweetness and floral, citrus taste. Rieslings are a go-to option when pairing wines with certain ethnic cuisine, including Indian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Some rieslings can be dry, so wine enthusiasts looking for rieslings for their sweetness may want to speak with a representative at the winery to ensure they’re getting the wine they want.

Merlot

Another wildly popular red wine, merlots have an extensive flavor profile. Some merlots may produce a taste reminiscent of black cherries, while others may provide strong hints of cocoa. Merlots are typically made in a dry style, and they are easily mistaken for cabernet sauvignons.

Wine tastings are great ways for novices to get a feel for certain varietals. While in-person tastings may not be possible in areas where stay-at-home measures are still in place, consumers are urged to contact their local wineries to determine if they provide sample bottles to customers looking to get a feel for wine.