Selecting Wines

There are many more wines but I am just listing the most common ones:


Meritage - a blend of 2 or more grapes (varietals) that is generally very drinkable and soft. It is usually pretty easy to find an enjoyable meritage for a reasonable price. Good weekday wine.

Merlot - easy to drink, typically softer flavors that are fruity. This is the varietal to try when you decide to expand from whites to reds. Wine snobs don’t like merlot because it usually lacks complexity.

Cabernet Sauvignon - typically a heavier more full bodied, complex, intense wine with more acidity (tannins). Wine snobs prefer cabs. Pretty hard to find a really good cab under $20 and the premium ones can be expensive. Inexpensive cabs are far more likely to be unimpressive or objectionable than any other varietal.

Pinot Noir - it is pretty hard to find a really good pinot.  Good ones have a bold nose, rich fruit and a flavorful complex finish. Pinots from different growing zones (terroir) have noticeably different flavors. Central California tends to be more fruity and Oregon and Washington pinots tend to be more earthy & grassy.

Zinfandel - usually a bold, zesty fruit flavor. Be ready to have a dark red mouth after drinking a zin.

Syrah - typically hearty and spicy

Chardonnay – Lots of variation here. Can range from acidic (tart) to buttery depending on how it is made. Easy to find very good chards under $20. Fun to pick out the bold fruit tastes and smells that vary greatly.

Sauvignon Blanc - A light refreshing wine typically highlighted by citrus flavors. Good warm weather wine to enjoy with fruit.

Riesling - typically very sweet and the wine snobs won’t touch it.

Fruity (fruit forward)
Lingering finish
Corked (bad)
Nose (what it smells like)


  1. Hi Elle! I would have posted a comment on YouTube, but I thought it might end up being TOO long :) We love wine and have gone wine tasting all over the US as well as in Australia, New Zealand, & some in Europe as well. Like you, I used to tolerate/like cheap wine. We were known to even buy "two buck Chuck" from TJ's from time to time. These days, not so much! Now our goal is to find really nice wines at a reasonable price. One of our big successes (that I'd like to recommend to you & Mark) is Cameron Hughes Lot Series wines that you can purchase for a reasonable price at Costco. They are "smallish batch" wines and we have never had one that we didn't like. Their Meritage is particularly delightful.
    We did some wine tasting when we came through California last fall in the Solvang area. It was there I tasted the best Pinot Noir EVER! If you ever see Carhartt Pinot Noir, grab it! :)
    I know this is slightly off subject of getting wine you like at a restaurant, but thought I'd share it with you anyway. Thanks for your great videos - I always look forward to watching them!
    Susan :)

    1. Susan - this is so funny you say that as we have a wine cellar full of cases of Cameron Hughes. We LOVE him and know all about how he started and are on his preferred mailing list. I do plan to do a video dedicated 100% to CH wines. Thanks so much for making sure I was aware of this. I agree that I have never had one I don't like and when we find one we really love (Lot 505 was stellar!) we buy a case or two. We also love Carhartt Pinots so, you are a girl after my own heart :-) BTW, any time you find a stellar lot of CH, feel free to let me know the # and I will go grab some! Have a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing this (and for your always sweet comments) xoxo Elle