Tips to explore the world of wine


— Have you always wanted to learn about wine and expand your knowledge?

Christopher Silva, CEO of St. Francis Winery in Sonoma, CA, offers the following tips for wine newbies and enthusiasts alike to get started on getting to know wine better:

• Join a club. A wine club, either through specifically one winery or company that features an international selection, is a great way to have a variety of hand-picked, quality wines delivered to your doorstep. Whether you decide to stick with one varietal or try many, a wine club can cater to your wishes or help you expand your horizons wisely.

• Take notes. Sipping on some vino? Record your impressions of the flavors in a “wine diary.” Remember to clear your palate first with something neutral, such as crackers. You’ll know whether to revisit the wine in the future, as well as learn to become more mindful of what you’re drinking.

• Seek variety. For a broad overview of wine, it’s important to become familiar with the major varietals, which for white wines include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and for red wines, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfadel. Here are three new wines to try this year:

Versatile as an aperitif or with a variety of seafood and light meats, St. Francis Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is a refreshing vintage wine with a clean, crisp structure and aromas of citrus, kiwi and mango with a touch of lime.

Next up, St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 has a rich, complex flavor and body. The wine’s firm structure, generous tannins and depth of color complement classic aromas and flavors of black currant, cassis, dusty cocoa and tobacco. This wine is an excellent companion to aged blue cheese, braised or grilled beef and roast pork with fruit.

Looking for an American classic? Try Zinfandel and St. Francis Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel 2012, which is made from dry farmed old vines to ensure concentrated flavor. Aromas of boysenberry, clove and cinnamon are followed by flavors of mixed berries, red licorice, tobacco leaf and mulling spices. Pair with barbecued ribs and pasta Bolognese.

• Travel. Go right to the source and consider planning a trip to wine country. Many vineyards host tours, have tasting rooms and offer education programs. A winery is also a great place to find top notch wine pairings. For example, the St. Francis` Wine & Food Pairing program, awarded the “Number One Restaurant in America” by OpenTable, is a seated, multicourse pairing hosted by wine experts. Find out more at

By exploring the world of wine, you can make everything from casual weeknight meals to festive parties, more delicious.