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Which Wine Should I Keep In My Home Wine Cooler?

image of wine bottlesClassifying wines can be as difficult as categorizing people. It is said that each wine has its own character and soul. In general, however, wines can be classified as grape, berry, vegetable, fruit, or raisin. Then there are styles of wine to consider: red wine, white wine, rose, sparkling wine, and fortified wine. Within the styles are levels of sweetness. In dry wines, almost all of the sugars are fermented into alcohol. In a semi-sweet wine, some of the sugar is left and tends to enhance the acidity or aromatics (the distinctive smell) in the wine. A sweet wine leaves a lot of the sugars un-fermented. Unless they are fortified with additional alcohol, sweet wines typically have a lower alcohol content.

When choosing wines for your home wine cooler, a domestic chardonnay is a must. This dry grape wine pairs well with chicken, pork, or seafood, and accommodates the palates of most everyone. Another must-have white wine is a Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. Though often snubbed by wine connoisseurs, it’s the most popular imported wine in the U.S., and also produced domestically. It goes well with shellfish, chicken, and other light foods. In addition, don’t pass up the Chablis. “Yet a grape is only part of the story,” as a recent New York Times article reminded readers that a Sauvignon Blanc from the Burgundy region of France is one of the best examples of the influence of environment on wines and highly recommends splurging on the real deal.

For red wines, choose a full-bodied Merlot, the perfect complement to heavier meals and grilled meats. For a wine with a bit more “backbone,” select a Cabernet Sauvignon, known for its “green pepper” flavor. Another must-have selection is Pinot Noir, produced in vineyards around the world and considered the go-to Burgundy wine. Whether sipping it solo or pairing it with a grilled salmon, Pinot Noirs range from easy drinking to elegant, and work with just about any food. Experiment to find the one that appeals to you. Then there’s the time-honored Chianti, the perfect accompaniment for your pasta dishes. Don’t put a lot of money into this one. You can get a perfectly good Chianti for less than $10.

Round out your collection with a selection of dessert wines. Choose a budget-friendly Moscato d’Asti to go with strawberry shortcake or a white Zinfandel as a dessert by itself.

Always keep a good bubbly on hand, such as a California Brut, or if your budget allows, a genuine French or British champagne.

When storing your wines, the most important consideration is keeping a steady temperature. A consistent 55 degrees is ideal, with minimal exposure to light. Since most refrigerators are usually kept at 45 degrees or lower to preserve perishable foods, maintaining your wine cooler is a good investment to make sure your collection doesn’t age too fast.

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