So, you have always considered yourself to be a white wine kind of gal or guy, but these days you are starting to feel limited by drinking only clear-ish liquids. You want to know how to pick a Pinot noir, but where do you begin? If you are just starting to explore different kinds of wine, it can be intimidating, and descriptions like "subtle yet spicy with hints of dried red fruit, anise, and burnt rubber on the finish" aren't super helpful when you just want to know if you are going to like it or not.
That's OK! You have got to start somewhere, and that place can be here. Soon you will know more about Pinot noir than Titus Andromedon, and be totally prepared to choose one for yourself.
Pinot noir is one of the oldest grape varietals, having been around in some form in the Burgundy region of France since at least the first century. It's unclear where exactly it originated, as the grapes also appeared in other parts of Europe around the same time. It was a favorite of the church during the Middle Ages, which should tell you something about who was having the most fun at that time. These days, it's a go-to for red wine lovers. Whether you're a huge fan or a complete novice, here's how to pick out a Pinot noir like a total pro.
Where Is It Grown?
The 20th century saw a steady increase in Pinot noir-growing regions around the world, including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South America, and, of course, Europe.
What To Look For
Pinot noir is a light and relatively fruity wine, and its flavors can depend on the region in which it was grown. Wines from warmer climates, including California and Australia, will have notes of raspberry and spice, while wines from Europe and Oregon, which are cooler, will be earthier, with notes of cranberry and mushroom. (Need a wine-tasting crash-course? Check it out here.)
For under $15, Simple Life Pinot Noir ($13.99) is a surprisingly complex wine, with a little bit of smokiness that would make it the perfect pairing for dinner. The Gloria Ferrer Estate Pinot Noir ($27) is a perfect mid-range bottle. Expect to find flavors of cherry, strawberry, and herbs. If you're looking to splurge a bit, go for the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir ($38.99), and try to pick out the notes of oak, dried fruit, and cocoa.
What To Serve It With
The earthy, dark flavors of Pinot noir make it the perfect wine to pair with equally earthy ingredients like mushrooms and root vegetables. (This is a great wine for many vegetarian main courses.) Curl up with a bowl of this mushroom-leek risotto from the Kitchn, a bottle of Pinot noir, and don't leave your house until the spring thaw.
For more cool ways to drink wine, check out Bustle on YouTube.
Images: Superfloop; The Kitchn; Southern Foodways Alliance; Getty