Grab a glass and let’s toast off a very friendly matchup of 14 wines broken into seven France vs. USA duos. To make things interesting, we’ve paired up similar grapes and blends in contrasting styles. France brings old-world panache responsible for introducing many of the varietals that we so cherish today. While the relative newcomer, the U.S. craft has grown into a true contender.
Tasting these wines side by side is a great way to appreciate all of the variables that go into crafting a delicious bottle. When you’re ready to pour, sip, savor and take a few notes with friends, head to your Whole Foods Market’s Wine department and stock up. If your local store opens in a new tab has a wine bar, you can even order a glass for a sneak peek before you buy.
Wine Tasting Tips
Invite your friends over for a different kind of gathering. Put your flavor-note-detection skills to the test, or simply sit back and share some laughs between clinks. Our Global Wine Buyer, Katherine Wallace, shares a few pointers below.
Know the difference between drinking and tasting: To really get the most out of the experience, a few easy wine-tasting basics can help. Wine is all about engaging the senses. Let’s start with sight. Pour a small sample, then hold to the light to get color clues as to what style to expect. Swirl your glass with a little wrist action to help aerate the wine and open it up (for older wines, consider decanting). Next, tilt the glass and draw short inhalations from your nose and out the mouth, noting aromas. And finally, the main event. Let your tongue do some detecting before putting the wine into words.
Prep ahead: It’s the little things that really upgrade the experience. Consider offering both sparkling and flat water. Don’t forget to build your cheese board to snack on in-between sets. As for glassware, unless you’re going ultrafancy, don’t sweat varietal-specific glasses. Simple, universal, with a stem or without — it all works just fine.
Keep it accessible for newbies: There are many different ways to enjoy wine with friends. Hosting a tasting doesn't need to be an academic endeavor — it can be as casual as you please.
Less is more: Don’t overwhelm your guests with too many options. There’s a method to the madness. A series of whites, sparklings and heavy reds all in the same series can induce palate fatigue. Start with the lightest options and work your way toward full-bodied, more tannic wines.
Drink what you love: Life is too short to finish a glass that doesn’t appeal to you. And there’s no shame in discreetly spitting into a designated receptacle (hey, if it’s completely appropriate at the best wineries in the world, it’s going to fly at your dining room table).
Branch out: Once you’ve dialed in the varietals and regions you tend to gravitate toward, you have the foundation for seeking out new bottle explorations that retain some common characteristics — branching out from the core of proven faves.
Get in the mindset: Think of grapes as a canvas — the terroir, the soil and climate in which they’re grown play a big part in defining the end result, along with the winemaker’s preferences. That includes decisions like when the grapes are harvested, what kind of barrels are used in the ageing process and much more. Do you lean brighter and zestier, or elegant and creamy? Or maybe there’s love for both. Let’s find out!
Duo 1: Sparkling White Wines
Bright and zesty or elegant and creamy? Let’s start the journey toward your perfect pour.
Duo 2: Sauvignon Blanc Wines
Bright and balanced, or dry and crisp? Sauvignon blanc has many expressions. For best results, we recommend you serve these wines cold, between 50 and 55°F.
Duo 3: Chenin Blanc Wines
Lemon zest and tropical fruit, or white flowers and a zing of ginger?
Duo 4: Chardonnay Wines
Vanilla bean and oak, or citrus and honey?
Duo 5: Red Blend Wines
Cherry and blackberry, or something silky with a hint of licorice?
Duo 6: Pinot Noir Wines
Spice and vanilla, or full-bodied with ripe fruit? Yes to both, please.
Duo 7: Cabernet Sauvignon Wines
Juicy and brooding, or smooth and earthy? There’s no wrong answer here.
Must be 21+. Please drink responsibly.