How to Shop Fall Farmers Markets Like a Pro

Farmers markets should be relaxing places to shop. Ask yourself some basic questions. What do you like eating, what home-cooked meals do you yearn for, and what wine goes with what food? Keep these farmers market shopping tips on hand to make the process easygoing.

Farmers market shopping tips, what wine goes with what food

1. Make Time

Set aside some time to enjoy yourself. Don’t treat it like a grocery store or another errand. Farmers markets are great communal spaces. Enjoy the atmosphere and don’t rush through!

2. Go Early

If you can, get there early in the day, especially if you want seafood. You’ll have the first pick of this and most meat. Other popular vendors will also sell out earlier. You’ll learn when to beat the crowds, which can help you linger and also:

3. Talk to People

Vendors will often be excited to talk about their growing process or what makes their farm different. Shoppers may be excited to trade recipes or make recommendations. Socializing also helps relieve stress. You may even make a friend or two.

4. Buy In-season

Apples are best in fall, right after they’ve come off the tree. Most berries are also harvested in fall. Spring vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, chard, kale, spinach. Buy in-season to get the freshest, tastiest vegetables.

5. Buy Whole Root Vegetables

Where you can, buy root vegetables whole. This means their greens remain attached. This is especially true if you’ll be using those veggies in a few different meals. Whole root vegetables will last longer. You can even wash and eat the greens in pesto, salads, and other dishes.

6. Try New Things

Chances are good you’ll come across some unique products. Try them. This is one of the most important farmers market shopping tips because it expands your horizons. Maybe you’ve never had lingonberries before. Are those tiny eggplants real? Honey can be flavored by bees having access to different flowers? What’s a breakfast radish? Try them all.

7. Remember Your Wine

Farmers markets are great places to pick up wine, or to pick up fruits, meats, and veggies that go well with your wine. Match as you buy. What wine goes with what food? Take recommendations and combine new foods with new wines – you may just discover a new favorite pairing.

Ready to hit the farmers market? 

What Snacks Pair Well with Pinot Noir?

Pinot noir is a fantastic wine to enjoy while snacking. Its medium body, red berry flavor, and silky cherry notes all combine for a relaxing experience. That means there are several pinot noir appetizer pairing options that are ideal. When thinking of snacks to pair with pinot noir, think of what goes best with kicking back and enjoying a gentle sunset.

Pinot Noir Appetizer Pairing | Snacks to Pair with Pinot Noir | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Basic Pairing

Oregon pinot noir is grown in the Umpqua and Willamette valleys, where the ancient volcanic soil offers a uniquely elegant wine. This makes for a wine that matches rich feasts of rare foods, sure. It also means a wine that’s down to earth and pairs with snacks and even cold leftovers perfectly.

Salmon, duck, chicken, pork, and mushroom risotto are all ideal for a full meal with pinot noir. If you have anything like that in appetizer form, it will fit well. That said, let’s think of more traditional snack fare: fruits, cheeses, and snack meats.

The Perfect Snack Plate

A snack plate with crackers, goat cheese, pear, and salami is the perfect way to enjoy pinot noir. Herb crackers are ideal because they aren’t too salty, and the herbs will set well against the rich bouquet of the pinot noir. The goat cheese is creamy and lets the other tastes linger on your tongue. Pear is refreshing and complements the brighter berry flavors. Finally, salami is salty and has a mouthwatering taste that enhances every other element. Each of these snacks enhances the others as well as the wine, so you have one of the most ideal and relaxing plates possible.

Other cheeses can also work, but will shift up the combined experience a bit. Fresh mozzarella matches these other flavors well, but you’ll lose the creaminess of the goat cheese. Brie retains that creaminess, but can feel a little too understated compared to goat cheese or mozzarella.

Figs and dried fruit also match pinot noir well. So do walnuts.

Mushroom Appetizers

Practically anything with mushrooms goes with pinot noir, so garlic butter mushrooms or bacon stuffed mushrooms can be phenomenal. You can also have them alongside plates like the one above. (There’s nothing saying you can only have one pinot noir appetizer pairing at a time.)

Leftovers: Practical Snacks to Pair with Pinot Noir

Sometimes a snack isn’t an Instagram-perfect meat-and-cheese plate, or stuffed mushrooms you spent 45 minutes preparing. Sometimes the best and most relaxed snacks to pair with pinot noir are just the delicious leftovers you’ve been looking forward to all day.

You might think from herb crackers, mozzarella, salami, and mushrooms that cold pizza would taste excellent with pinot noir. You would be absolutely right. The most popular pizza toppings (like sausage and pepperoni, or mushrooms and olives for vegetarians) pair exquisitely with pinot noir. The melty mozzarella cheese and oils are a delicious match, hot or cold.

What Are Wine Diamonds?

What are wine diamonds in white wine? You might spy these crystals forming in the bottom of your glass. Should you worry about them? Is the wine still OK to drink? Relax! These are nothing more than tartrate crystals in wine. They’re perfectly natural, they don’t impact the flavor of the wine and consuming them is perfectly safe.

Wine Diamonds in White Wine | Tartrate Crystals in Wine | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

What Is a Wine Diamond?

You may see these in the bottom of a glass or bottle of wine from time to time. They actually form in red wines, too. They’re just more likely and more visible in white wines for a number of reasons. Wine diamonds form when potassium bonds with tartaric acid. A crystal forms as a result.

Why Do Wine Diamonds Appear in White Wine?

Now, why are wine diamonds in white wine more visible? Firstly, a more acidic wine is more likely to produce a few more wine diamonds. Secondly, chilling wine – as one often does with white wines – helps these crystals form. Finally, white wine is simply clearer – it’s much easier to see these crystals than in red wines.

There is a process to remove these crystals, but it’s controversial as to whether this impacts the quality of the wine that results. It involves chilling the wine to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a large tank. After a few weeks, any wine diamonds that would form have sunk to the bottom. These are then removed, but there’s a great deal of debate as to whether this sabotages the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine.

This is used in most mass production wineries to create a standard product – too many people become alarmed at wine diamonds because they don’t know what they are. It’s avoided at smaller, more specialized wineries because these wineries don’t want to negatively impact taste or experience.

Can I Avoid These Crystals in My Wine?

The best way to minimize the presence of wine diamonds is to ensure that you don’t over-chill your wine. A standard fridge cools to about 35 degrees. This is below the 40 degree mark that really encourages potassium to start bonding with tartaric acid. To avoid this, you can simply keep your wines in a wine cooler that’s set to 55 degrees. If you don’t have one, chill your wine for about half an hour in the fridge before serving. This will get it nice and cool, without sinking its temperature down too low.

If you still end up with wine diamonds despite your best efforts, remember that you don’t have to worry about them. They’re easy to avoid drinking, safe to consume if you do, and having them in the wine is better for the wine than taking them out through standardization processes.

Wine Storage and Serving Temperatures

Everyone who drinks or serves wine needs to know about wine storage and serving temperatures. The information is simple. If you scroll down, you’ll find a wine serving temperature chart, and it can help guide you. There are also a few extra tips in this article about serving wine – especially about aging it, as long-term storage needs are different than short-term.

Wine Storage and Serving Temperatures | Wine Serving Temperature Chart | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Aging Wine

Aging wine in long-term storage conditions requires some knowledge to get started. Most wines sold are made with the idea that they’ll be consumed quickly – within about a year. This means most wines won’t necessarily gain from being aged. Wines that are designed to be aged are fewer and farther between. Honestly, there are fewer people picking wine up for aging than picking it up to drink it that week.

When you find wines that are appropriate for aging, remember these tips for long-term wine storage and serving temperatures:

  1. Ultraviolet rays will change the flavors in wine negatively. Wine shouldn’t be stored in an area that has regular sunlight or that has daily exposure to light at all. This is why so many stories and folk tales involve wine cellars. Not only are they moody settings for dark and stormy nights, they’re also typically below ground because this naturally limits their exposure to light.
  2. The temperature should remain cool and steady. This means the temperature should remain 55 degrees Fahrenheit, within about two degrees up or down. Any colder and the aging process won’t proceed under ideal conditions. Any warmer and your wine may not hold well over time.
  3. Humidity is desired. This often strikes people as a strange combination with such a cool environment, but corks can dry out and allow air into the bottle – this disrupts the aging process. Keep humidity as close to 70% as you can.
  4. There’s a reason bottles are stored on their sides. This also helps keep the cork moist. Any other kind of top but a cork, and the wine isn’t a good candidate for aging.
  5. Wines develop sediment over time. How those sediments slowly interact is key to the aging process. The bottles should be kept still and not moved around too often. They shouldn’t be near anything that can cause vibration either. This disturbs that sediment formation and disrupts aging.

Suffice it to say the above elements are not all easily achieved. Some strike it lucky with conditions in their basements or have access to a cellar. For others, one or more of these conditions is too far out of step to make aging reasonable. In these cases, a room that has environmental controls is a must. Of course, that can be expensive. You can see how this already limits the accessibility of aging wine. Make sure that it’s something you learn about and want to step into before you do so.

Are Wine Refrigerators Worth It?

Serving wine soon after getting it is a lot more reasonable than aging it for most. Short-term wine storage and serving temperatures are much easier to achieve.

For this, a small wine refrigerator can help you keep your wine at an ideal temperature at about 55 degrees. This is suitable for both red and white wines.

Many people chill their wines in a regular fridge, but this isn’t optimal (though it’ll certainly do when you have a bottle you will enjoy within the week). Regular refrigerators are set to 40 degrees and designed to eliminate humidity. That makes them much too cold and dry. Even for short-term storage, this can impact the flavor of your wine negatively.

Wine refrigerators are designed to keep wines at about 55 degrees consistently, and to retain an ideal humidity.

Red Wine Serving Temperatures

The rule of thumb is that red wines should be served at room temperature. However, this is actually a little too warm. At 68-70 degrees, alcohol will evaporate. A bottle of red wine should be slightly chilled. Just how chilled depends on the nature of the red wine in question. This is where a wine serving temperature chart comes in very handy.

More complex reds should be served at about 60-65 degrees. This includes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, syrah, and zinfandel, among others.

Lighter reds should be served slightly cooler: between 55-60 degrees. Keep in mind this means that you can serve cabernet franc, grenache, pinot noir, or tempranillo soon after taking it out of a wine fridge.

White Wine Serving Temperatures

Chardonnay and Bordeaux blends are perfect in that 50-55 degree range, right out of the wine fridge. Riesling hovers right at 50 degrees.

It gets even cooler than this. A good pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, or bright rosé should be served as cool as 45 degrees. Still use a wine fridge to store them, but for serving this may mean about 15-30 minutes in a regular fridge just before you pour.

You don’t need anything too fancy or complicated to remember the details about wine storage and serving temperatures. Just consult the wine serving temperature chart below to remember this information.

Remember that you may want to make your own adjustments. Everyone has their own preferences, and will discover a wine they actually prefer slightly warmer or cooler than the guidelines for wine storage and serving temperatures. This article is a place to start, but if you really prefer your wine at different temperatures, then serve it that way! It’s your wine, and no one can stop you!

Wine Serving Temperature Chart

60-65 °F

  • Cabernet sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Nebbiolo
  • Sangiovese
  • Syrah
  • Zinfandel

55-60 °F

  • Barbera
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Grenache
  • Pinot noir
  • Port
  • Tempranillo

55 °F

  • Beaujolais
  • Gamay

50-55 °F

  • Chardonnay

50 °F

  • Riesling
  • Viognier
  • Gewurztraminer

45 °F

  • Chenin blanc
  • Pinot gris
  • Rosé
  • Sauvignon blanc

43 °F

  • Ice wine
  • Sauternes
  • Sparkling wines

Are Wine Corks Compostable?

Can you compost wine corks? Or do you recycle wine corks? Both are possible. Cork itself is an incredibly unique wood that can be harvested in a sustainable manner. It doesn’t even harm the tree. If you understand what makes cork so special, you’ll also understand the proper ways to compost or recycle it.

Compost Wine Corks | Recycle Wine Corks | Rainstorm Wines

Why Cork is Special

Cork is made from cork oak, a tree that grows up to 65 feet tall. Yet the tree doesn’t need to be cut down in order to harvest it. It can keep on standing and growing. Cork oak regrows its outer bark. About once a decade, the bark can be stripped off an adult tree without causing any harm. On average, a single cork tree can see its bark safely harvested 16 times in its lifetime.

Cork Oak Stewardship

Many cork producers are also working with the Rainforest Alliance. While these trees grow in Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa,  the Rainforest Alliance itself is helping cork producers to earn Forest Stewardship Council certifications. These educate producers and place requirements on them to meet both social and environmental standards. This will help conserve cork oak safely into the future.

What makes cork so special? Why can’t you use any old product to seal wine? Cork is light and possesses elastic qualities. This allows it to serve as a stopper in many bottled products. It’s also impermeable so gases and liquids can’t pass through it. This keeps whatever is sealed in a corked bottle fresh and unspoiled.

How to Compost Wine Corks

Make sure that the cork isn’t actually a synthetic material made to look like cork wood. You can cut the cork open to check. Synthetic corks are foamy and look very uniform inside. Do not compost a synthetic cork.

If it’s a real cork, remove anything artificial attached to it. This can include foil covers, plastic, or screw lid material. Anything plastic, from a synthetic cork to a plastic screw cap, can go in the recycling bin.

To compost wine corks much more quickly, chop the cork up to help it break down. As in any compost material, the more green elements (like grass, plant clippings, or leftover vegetable scrap) added into the compost, the quicker non-green materials will break down.

You can even do this with other cork materials, such as a notice board. Just make sure that they don’t have glue or paint on them. You can cut these parts out and still recycle the parts without paint or glue.

How to Recycle Wine Corks

Real cork can be recycled, but don’t throw it in the recycling bin. Many stores have programs to recycle wine corks – you can take your corks into Whole Foods, for instance. Look for a store with Cork Reharvest Boxes.

There are also companies that have drop-offs at other businesses, such as ReCork and Cork Forest Conservation Alliance. You can search online for the nearest drop-off locations. If these locations are too distant, you can mail your corks in at no cost to CorkClub. There are other businesses that may offer these services, so don’t be afraid to check. These are simply the ones that are accessible to the most people.

Of course, you can also reuse corks in home art projects. If you’re recycling corks that were used in these projects, cut any parts with paint or glue off them before bringing them in for recycling.

So uncork a bottle of your favorite wine and explore your possibilities!

How Many AVAs Are in Oregon?

How many Oregon wine regions are there? This can be answered by understanding how many AVAs, or American Viticultural Areas, there are in the state. These are based on climate, soil types, elevation ranges, weather, and other factors that help influence what will grow in that area. Who decides this? They’re named by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. 

Oregon AVAs | Oregon Wine Regions | Rainstorm Wines

Oregon Wine Regions

There are currently a total of 19 AVAs in Oregon. Rainstorm Estate Vineyard and Winery is located in the newest one, the Van Duzer Corridor AVA. It lies in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The 60,000-acre area stretches west to northwest of Salem, between Polk and Yamhill countries.

Each AVA Is Unique

It’s the soil and wind that makes this newest of Oregon AVAs so unique. The soil is a marine sediment that remains from prehistoric times, and the winds bring cool nights in quickly. The salty Pacific Ocean air sweeps into the Eola-Amity Hills and is funneled southward through the corridor’s more gently rolling hills. Every afternoon, as temperatures change, you can feel that cool, refreshing wind come through.

Specialties of the Newest AVA

This rare combination of soil and climate makes for exquisite grape growing conditions. Grapes in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA tend to offer complex tastes. The soil and climate deliver nicely acidic wines that pair with both summer foods like BBQ, and rich, hearty winter meals. Of all Oregon wine regions, the Van Duzer Corridor offers the best Pinot gris, Pinot noir, and Pinot noir rose in the state.

Are More Regions on the Way?

Part of what makes Oregon so special is the sheer range of environments and climates the state has. Beyond the 19 current Oregon AVAs, there are an additional four up for consideration. These are Laurelwood, Lower Long Tom, Mount Pisgah, and Tualatin Hills.

Oregon wine regions offer brilliant range and beautiful landscapes. Be sure that the new Van Duzer Corridor is on your list of must-visits. You can see for miles, and the warming sun and refreshing breeze keep the summer days perfect.

Feast Portland Tips and Tricks

Feast Portland is nearly arrived. Are you prepared? The festival will be running from Thursday, September 12 to Sunday, September 15 this year. It has a “versus” theme for the first time: East Coast vs. West Coast. (Hmm, we can’t imagine who will possibly win!) Come by, savor the best tastes of the region, and listen to music while enjoying your favorite Oregon pinots. Here’s what you need to know:

Feast Portland | Oregon Pinots | Rainstorm Wines

Feast Portland Basics

Feast Portland benefits Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Urban Gleaners. You can learn more about these charity organizations here. As always, there will be events leading up to Feast Portland as well. These include guided yoga and trail runs. There will be more than 50 main events! 

Tickets start at $35, but range upwards depending on which events you choose. Dinner Series events will range $175-$225. That’s not for everybody, so fun size events will be $35-$175. Drink Tank is $45-$55 for each panel. Classes are back, and they range $35-$200 depending on which you take. Main Events are between $95-$175.

Have a Plan

Talk to your entire group so you’ll know ahead of time what events you want to go to, what food you want to try, and if you’ll stick together or split up into groups. You don’t need every minute sketched out, but having an awareness of who wants to go to what will cut down on confusion at the event.

Meet People

Talk to other people. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Remember, Feast Portland takes place right before Portland dives into another 8 straight months of rain and everyone goes into hibernation mode. It’s the perfect time to expand your social circle.

Take Notes

You love someone’s food. As soon as you’ve left, you forget what business it was. No matter how hard you look, you’ll never find this most perfect restaurant ever again. We’ve all been there. That’s why you should grab business cards. Take a picture of the food, the restaurant name or logo, whatever helps you remember.

Relax with an Oregon Pinot

People sometimes get to Feast Portland and start running around like they’re going to miss everything. Let yourself relax. It’s summer. It’s hot. You’re there to refresh yourself. In between events of Feast Portland, take a moment to relax and enjoy your favorite Oregon pinots from Rainstorm wines. Take in the river, the music, the people. Things can feel very stressful and overwhelming these days. When you give yourself a break, treat yourself.

The Big Feast

The Grand Tasting is now named The Big Feast and will be taking place entirely on the weekend. It’s also moved from Pioneer Courthouse Square to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is a great change – the waterfront area is three times larger. It’ll run Saturday and Sunday, Sep. 14-15, from 1 pm-5 pm both days.

But I’m Hungry Now!

Early eaters will want to stop by Brunch Village. This also has a new location at The Redd (831 SE Salmon St). It’s both ADA accessible, has street parking, and has a lot of space both indoors and outdoors. Consider the VIP Brunch Village ticket upgrade. You can arrive half an hour early and meet Emily Elyse Miller, founder of the Breakfast Club and author of “The Breakfast Book”.

Who Will Feed My Voracious Children?

Look at Melty Fest Presented by Tillamook. This is Feast Portland’s first family-friendly event and it’s about time. Since every other event is 21 and over, Feast saw a need for families to get their good eats on. Melty Fest is taking place Saturday, Sep. 14 from 4-7 pm. Anticipate lots of melty summer foods and goodies.

What Chefs Will Be There?

Portland chefs include Matt Vicedomini from Matt’s BBQ and Rodney Muirhead from Podnah’s Pit, Maya Lovelace from Yonder, Carlo Lamagna from Magna, Tommy Habetz from Pizza Jerk, Gregory Gourdet from Departure, Nong Poonsukwattana from Nong’s Khao Man Gai, and Gabriel Rucker from Le Pigeon.

Visiting chefs include Aaron Franklin from Franklin BBQ in Austin, Chris Shepherd from One Fifth in Houston, Abe Conlon from Fat Rice in Chicago, Nite Yun from Nyum Bai in Oakland, and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins from El Jardin in San Diego.

You can find the full schedule here at Feast Portland and on their lineup page.

5 Home Wine Bar Ideas

Home wine bar ideas can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. You might want to have something precise and ornate straight out of Downton Abbey, or you might prefer an unassuming space that’s perfect for enjoying wine while playing board games. It’s important that you stock a diverse range of quality wines like Rainstorm wines, and you shouldn’t forget the necessities: corkscrew, ice bucket, towel, etc. It’s much simpler to figure out a unique wine bar than you might think:

Home Wine Bar Ideas | Rainstorm Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon

1. The Cabinet Bar

The cleverest home wine bars are hidden until you decide to partake. A simple cabinet can be turned into an entire bar. A great way to do this is to make the exterior fit in with the entire room, but to make sure the interior of the cabinet is a bold, happy color. This way, the wine bar goes unnoticed until it’s open – at which point it’s impossible to overlook.

2. The Cart

Bar carts range from the inexpensive to the wildly overpriced. There’s even a good chance you have something you can re-purpose at home. A bar cart is ideal because it offers you a great range of choice and everything is accessible. Store your best bottles here to show off. Gold or silver bar carts match just about anything. Make sure it has two tiers, and there are places for bottles and glasses.

3. The Comfortable Corner

Some of the best home wine bar ideas simply involve a counter and a table with some corner seats. A few wines on the counter, glasses on a shelf above, flowers on the table, sun coming in the open window, cushy corner seating, pillows to lean back on, a select choice of books or games…you probably have most or all of these things and it already ranks your home wine bar far above most fancy ones that forget about comfort and relaxation.

4. Glasses for the Occasion

Make sure your glass selection suits the wines that you have. You can also match based on how extravagant your wine bar is. Do you have an ornate home wine bar with special lighting that combines to recall the art deco period? Better have stemware. Or do you have a nice, relaxed corner with a comfortable, no-frills approach? Stemless wine glasses can suit this vibe much better.

5. Stock the Right Wines

The most impressive home wine bar won’t work without the right wines. Make sure your wine bar has a selection that matches the temperature and weather. Focus on wine brands that match diversity and quality like Rainstorm wines, and make sure you have the right glasses to enjoy them. 

Remember that wine is best when enjoyed communally. If a friend is coming over and loves a particular wine, all the fancy wines in the world won’t impress them as much as remembering to have their favorite on hand.

Classic Toasts for All Occasions

There are those people who can stand and give a toast that leaves the entire room in tears. More power to them, but if you’re not one of those people, what can you say? Maybe you’re not a good public speaker, you have social anxiety, or you’re just tired from the work week. Giving toasts doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Keep these classic toasts in the back of your pocket for the next time you raise a glass of Rainstorm pinot with friends and family:

Classic Toasts | Rainstorm Pinot | Rainstorm Wines of Willamette Valley, Oregon

To the next step:

The beauty of this toast is that it’s unique to everyone in the room, and it pays a deep compliment to whoever you’re there to celebrate.

“The next step in life is different for everyone in this room. May we all make it with the same grace and joy as the bride and groom.”

Swap out the “bride and groom” with mom or dad, your friend who took on a new job, or whoever is the center of attention that evening. You get the idea. Or try this version of a classic literature quote:

“We know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, let’s go to it laughing.”

To good health and a happy life:

You’ll never go wrong wishing everyone in the room health and happiness. No grinch is going to be upset that you didn’t wish them sickness and drudgery.

“May everyone celebrating today see health and happiness in their lives, and have the good fortune to share it with each other as we are right now.”

Or try the briefer:

“May you live as long as you like, and have all you like as long as you live.”

To acceptance and love:

You’re always thankful for the people who will be there no matter what. They’ve seen you succeed and they’ve seen you break, and they never felt differently about you in either instant.

“Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst and love us regardless.”

If you want the joke to be on you, you can always try the old-fashioned version:

“Here’s to those who’ve seen us at our best and seen us at our worst and can’t tell the difference.”

What if you forget your toast?

If someone else already stole your classic toasts, or you can’t remember yours, just remember to speak from the heart. You don’t have to be complex or clever. Half of the witty toasts sink like a rock. It’s the heartfelt ones that people remember. You just have to mean it. Take a sip of Rainstorm pinot for bravery and to shake out the nerves, and give it your best shot.

Is Pinot Noir Sweet?

What makes a dry red wine? What’s the difference between dry and sweet? Let’s take the pride and joy of Oregon wine, pinot noir. Red wine like this tastes full of fruit like cherries and sometimes blackberries. So how is it that something with sweet flavors isn’t actually considered sweet? These questions have simpler answers than you think.

Dry Red Wine | Pinot Noir Red Wine | Rainstorm Wines

Why Dry or Sweet?

Wine that’s referred to as dry has less than 5% of residual sugar. More than 5% of residual sugar and the wine is referred to as sweet. Our taste buds obviously pick up on this. A dry red wine like pinot noir will almost always have less than 5% residual sugar. Why not add more? Pinot noir is finely balanced to bring out its fruit flavors in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. As a dry red wine, you can taste its entire flavor profile and enjoy each. As a sweet red wine, these flavors would be overwhelmed, and the textures and tannins that bring them out on your tongue would become lost.

Sweetness with Less Sugar

This doesn’t mean that there’s no sweetness in pinot noir. Red wine doesn’t often need sugar to have a sweet note. Elements like alcohol content, acids, and tannins are just a few that also influence how sweet a wine tastes. Pinot noir’s own flavor profile already features sweetness, so keeping it dry keeps it tasting like a full-bodied wine instead of candy.

How to Ask for Dry Red Wine

Most reds wines are kept dry because of this. It never hurts to ask, but if you’re self-conscious about making sure a red wine is dry, or not wanting as strong a taste of fruit, try asking for one that’s earthy. This is essentially super-secret wine code for a dry red wine that isn’t as fruit-focused in its flavors.

One of the advantages of pinot noir is that many varieties feature a robust and darker fruit focus that has depth beyond simple sweetness, all balanced against with earthy, dry qualities.

What About White Wines?

You may encounter wines with variations on dry and sweet. White wines especially will often be quoted as “medium sweet.” Treat this like it sounds: it’s sweet, but not too sweet. You may encounter wines with almost no sugar whatsoever…or you may encounter incredibly sweet wines with sugar that approaches 20%.

Do you like dry or sweet? There’s no wrong answer when it comes to wine!