I love doing at-home wine tastings. It is a fun way to try new wines in the comfort of your home. Trying international wine regions lets me research an area before I decide if I’d like to travel there for the wine. Wine tasting is also enjoyable to do with friends. Just assign guests a region or type of wine to bring. After tasting all these different wines, I definitely want to visit some of these regions. Actually, all of them! It is so interesting to me how many different places around the world grow grapes for wine.
I received samples of the Fab Slabs, Coro Artisan sliced salamis, and wines from Austria and Alto Adige, Italy.
I recently had a lunchtime wine tasting at my home. I was sampling wines including the ones in this article for upcoming articles. Not wanting to waste any wine, I invited my neighbors to sample as well. Since this was last minute and I knew I should provide food, I threw together three charcuterie boards. I used three Fab Slab boards from a family-owned business in Australia. The boards are made from camphor laurel. This makes the boards naturally and permanently antibacterial. They are beautifully made and highlight the food boards I made.
I made these boards quickly. For the dessert board, I just opened a bag of Lindor Truffles to add color with the bright foil wrappers. I used a box of fancy cookies and some chopped dark chocolate bars and that was it. I made a Trader Joe’s board with meats, cheeses, sauce, and some nuts. The meats and cheeses were all precut, making this so easy to put together.
The last board took a bit longer as I fancied it up. This is the perfect time to use products you purchased on trips or received as gifts waiting for an occasion to use. I crumbled aged Gouda from the Netherlands as well as an herbed seasoned Gouda. Both were a huge hit with my guests as well as the green peppercorn brie from Trader Joe’s, which was so creamy.
My favorite salamis are from Coro Foods. This is a women-owned business with high-quality products. The easy open packages with sliced meat make putting together a charcuterie so effortless. I opened my pantry and grabbed some olives, artichoke spread, and honey which I added into three ramekins. Place those first and then add everything else around it. Add grapes and strawberries for color. Make sure your fruit is dry, then add nuts. I love Costco Marcona almonds, they just taste fancy!
Once you have your boards ready, put together some bowls or plates of crackers. I also like to slice a fresh baguette. If I have time, I toast the slices with olive oil. Add plates and wine glasses to your table. I also put the wine on the table rather than on a separate beverage station. It was just four of us, so we could just sip and nosh.
1. Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen 2020
Wine Type: Gruner Veltliner
Region: Wachau Valley Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)
The Gruner Veltliner is the flagship wine from this area of Austria. It is a fruit-forward wine with a pronounced peppery flavor that is unique. The grapes are carefully handpicked. This is a very versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of food. Try this wine while it is available because this vintage is limited due to a late August hailstorm in the Wachau Valley.
Pro Tip: Pair this wine with cordon bleu, schnitzel, paella, cheese, and Vietnamese spring rolls.
2. Heinrich Naked White 2018
Wine Type: White Blend With Chardonnay As The Primary Grape
Region: Neusiedlersee, Burgenland In Austria
The wine has a lot going on. An interesting blend of 91% chardonnay, 6% pinot blanc, 2% muskat-ottonel, and 1% pinot gris. This is a carefully crafted wine that is organic and biodynamic. It is unfiltered and recommended to shake before you pour for the best flavor.
Pro Tip: Pair this wine with seafood, chicken, and complex dishes with many ingredients.
3. Deakin Estate Shiraz 2020
Wine Type: Shiraz
Region: Big River Zones, Riverina, Australia
The Big Rivers region is known for its rich, fertile soils and warm, sunny climate. This makes for a perfect environment to grow grapes. I enjoyed this wine and found it very smooth to drink. It will pair nicely with barbecue and a tangy vinegar barbecue sauce. On an interesting note, one of my guests who only likes sweeter white wines liked it as well.
Pro Tip: Pair this wine with barbecued meats, pasta, and beef stir fry.
4. Red Blend Portugal
Wine Type: Table Wine With The Primary Grape Castelão Frances
Region: Vinho Regional Lisboa In Portugal
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this wine, which was $5 at Costco, so my expectations were low. This is a red blend table wine that is low-cost for weekday drinking. It was very aromatic with scents of sweet red cherry, black plum, and Asian five-spice powder.
Pro Tip: Pair this wine with burgers, pizza, and spaghetti.
5. Kirkland Signature, Chianti Classico Riserva 2019
Wine Type: Chianti From Sangiovese Grape
Region: Tuscany In Italy
This is one of those wines you are supposed to like. It received 92 points from James Suckling, a renowned journalist, and wine critic. Lots of work went into making it. The winemakers work at Villa Cafaggio where the property and winemaking go back to the late 15th century. It is aged for 24 months with three months in the bottle. The price of under $10 at Costco was good for a wine of this caliber. The rating is what one or more people on a certain day think of the wine. That is not necessarily what you or I would like. In this case, I was not a fan. However, I wanted to highlight this wine to show Costco’s wine program. Just because a wine has a high point rating, doesn’t mean you will like it.
Pro Tip: Pair this wine with tomato-based pasta, pizza, and other Italian foods.
6. Zaccagnini Motepulciano D’Abruzzo
Wine Type: Montepulciano Red Wine
Region: Abruzzo, Italy
I really enjoyed this wine that I picked up at Costco. The bottle had a rustic piece of string wrapped around a dried piece of vine from the vineyard. Such a nice little touch. This is a richly colored wine with aromas of plug and blackberry. When tasting, your mouth will burst with the flavors of ripe berries, leather, black pepper, hints of spices, and vanilla. This wine is food friendly and can handle a bold dish.
Pro Tip: Pair the wine with meat lasagna or sausages.
7. Tiefenbrunner Vigna Rachtl Sauvignon Blanc Riserva
Wine Type: 100 Percent Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Alto Adige, Northern Italy
I tasted a variety of wines from this area virtually. Winemakers from the region talked about their wine and I could taste it from home while watching them in Italy. It was an interesting experience. This is a wine where you can taste the terroir of the region in the wine. This region has different microclimates and there are more than 5,000 farmers. Most are small family farms.
Pro Tip: Pair the wine with seafood, pork, chicken, and rice dishes.
8. Freienfeld Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2018
Wine Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Alto Adige, Italy
This big, bold cabernet is only made when the weather conditions are optimal. Freienfeld is the name of a Renaissance manor. The winery was founded in 1900 and kept the name. The label is a copy of a 16th-century fresco in the home and details the tragic love story of Pyramus and Thisbe. The sunny slopes in this alpine region are perfect for cabernet. The wine has aromas of dark berries and Mediterranean herbs. The fruitiness is balanced with smooth tannins. I love the care that goes into making this wine, and that you never know if there will be a vintage one.
Pro Tip: Pair the wine with fatty red meats, aged cheddar, and pasta with red sauces.
Planning A Wine Tasting
This was a completely eclectic wine tasting with an interesting mix of wines and regions. When planning a wine tasting or if you want to start a wine club, theming can be fun. I’ve hosted celebrity wine just from one region with every bottle under $10, and cheap cases of wine from Groupon (which I don’t recommend). You can also try varietals from California, Oregon, and Washington to see how soil and climate make a difference in how a wine tastes.
My favorite wine quote is, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy,” from Benjamin Franklin. Cheers!