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What Bartenders Should Know about Wine


Good wine will be a part of any bartending experience. Climate is a big factor in making good wine. To grow wine-worthy grapes, summers can’t be too hot and autumns need to be cool. Light rainfall is necessary in the winter and spring, and the rain needs to taper off in the summer and fall. Harsh, cold winters with hail, frost, and heavy winds are bad for growing grapes.

The type of grape determines the type of wine, and only certain types of grapes grow in certain climates. To make matters even more complicated, the soil of a particular region plays a big role in how its grapes turn out.

So while the climate in certain regions of California and France may be perfect for, say, chardonnay grapes, the soil in those regions affects the grapes to the point that the resulting wines from each region are different.

Many wines receive their names from the grape from which they’re produced. See the following list of some popular wines named after grapes:

  • Barbera (red): Italy
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (red): France, United States
  • Camay (red): France, United States
  • Chardonnay (white): France, United States, Argentina, Australia, South America
  • Chenin Blanc (white): France, United States
  • Gewürztraminer (white): Germany
  • Grenache (rosé): France, United States
  • Merlot (red): France, United States, South America
  • Pinot Noir (red): France, United States
  • Reisling (white): Germany, United States, France
  • Sauvignon Blanc (white): France, United States
  • Semillon (white): France, United States, Australia
  • Zinfandel (red and white): United States

Some popular French wines are as follows. They’re named after the region of France from which they originate.

  • Alsace (white)
  • Beaujolais (red) from Burgundy
  • Bordeaux (red and white)
  • Burgundy (red and white)
  • Rhône (red)
  • Sauterne (white) from Bordeaux

The following is a list of some German wines that are worth noting (all are white):

  • Gewürztraminer
  • Johannisberg Riesling
  • Spalleseen

Italy produces all kinds of regional wines:

  • Barbaresco (red) from Piedmont
  • Barbera (red) from Piedmont
  • Bardolino (red) from Veneto
  • Barolo (red) from Piedmont
  • Chianti (red) from Tuscany
  • Orvieto (white) from Umbria
  • Pinot Grigio (white) from Trentino
  • Riserva (red) from Tuscany
  • Soave (white) from Veneto
  • Valpolicella (red) from Veneto

Australia’s wines are growing in popularity. Here are the names of just a few:

  • Grange (red)
  • Grenache (red)
  • Semillon (white)
  • Shiraz (or Syrah) (red)

Some South American wines include

  • Chandonnay (white)
  • Malbec (red) from Argentina
  • Merlot (red) from Chile
  • Torrontes (white) from Argentina

In the United States, California produces about 90 percent of all wine. Most California wine comes from Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley, and those areas produce both red and white wines in varieties too numerous to list.

By Ray Foley from Bartending for Dummies, 5th Edition

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