We all love drinking it, but not many of us actually know our way around a wine list or which grape to pair with the food we’re serving (or ordering in, no judgement). Since you likely entertain clients, guests or family members on a regular basis, we tapped wine expert and winemaker at Napa Valley’s Round Pond Estate, Muiris Griffin, to explain which varietals are crowd-pleasers, and the foods they complement. Commit these basics to memory and you’ll never be lost again.
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What Are The Most Crowd-Pleasing Varietals?
"Definitely the Bordeaux varietals: Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We use all of them in our wines at Round Pond Estate, some feature just one to showcase the individual characteristics of that particular grape, but we also make several blends of the different wines that are very exciting. For example, our Proprietary Red features blends of the varietals, which gives an extra bit of complexity and showcases the different aromatics of each."
"Malbec can be a little more rustic and tannic, which makes it great with food."
"Petit Verdot is dense and dark, providing structure and color to blends. In some areas, Petit Verdot can have an earthy aromatic, but ours grown in the Napa Valley has a beautiful purple fruit character. "
"Cabernet Franc is a tough one to get just right. You’ll know you’ve come across the perfect Cabernet Franc when it has tons of fresh herb and spice notes and floral aromatics."
"Merlot is the softest and most elegant of the five, with a round and supple structure and pure red fruit aromas and flavors."
"Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grapes. With tons of complexity and density, a great Cabernet can have all the elegance of Merlot, but with lots of different aromatics and flavors: dark fruit, earthy notes, spice and a structure that holds on to you for minutes after each sip. Round Pond's Gravel Series wines are excellent examples of what Cab can do in rocky soils best suited for the grape. They have a big tannin structure that fills your palate but glides across and lingers beautifully for a long, powerful finish."