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Orange Coast Winery



Douglas Wiens
October 11, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

3 Incredible Orange Coast Food Pairings with Our Wine

White wine with your steak? Red wine with your seafood? Yes, please!

Mankind as we know it will not cease to exist if you decide you’d like a bottle of white wine to go with your steak. While it’s true that you’ll generally see red wines paired with red meats, you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to.

There are many white wines that will pair well with steak—and sometimes, you’re just not in the mood for the bold flavors of a red wine. Here’s what you should keep in mind when pairing wine with food, as well as a few suggestions involving our own wines.

Chateaubriand and …?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s red or white: you’ll need something that’s got enough acidity to cut through the beautifully marbled fat of a luscious cut of meat like chateaubriand. Our suggestion would be a bottle of our 2013 ES Cabernet Sauvignon LIB.

Yes, it’s predictably red—and fabulously so. Each sip rewards you with a mouthful of rosemary and eucalyptus herbal aromas that take your bite of beef to the next level of flavor enhancement. The savage nature of this grape has been slightly tamed by a few years of aging, yet it’s still bold enough to work well with the creamy mushroom sauces often served with chateaubriand.

What would we suggest if you wanted to stray into white wine territory? Look for something bright, with a good deal of minerality. Again, it’s to help with all that marbled fat that makes this cut of beef so fabulous. Pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. The bubbles will lift the fatty richness of a bite of chateaubriand off your palate.

A Mediterranean Plate of Olives, Cheese, and …?

Keep your palate in a globetrotting mode and choose an unexpected pairing like our 2015 Viognier. Your first challenge will be to pronounce it. The French grape variety flows off the tongue as “vee-own-yay.” People often mistake it for chardonnay, as both wines are full-bodied and share a creamy texture.

Your nose will distinguish the difference. It’ll report yellow apples and lemons if it’s a chardonnay. If there’s viognier in your glass, your nose will send you signals for tangerine and roses. There’s no other way to describe this next characteristic. A viognier starts with a softness that delivers an oily feeling at your mid-palate.

For this reason, it’s perfectly paired with any dish that has paprika, turmeric, or saffron. It’s right at home with olives, or anything that includes butter. You’ll want this over a chardonnay because the latter’s creamy or waxy contribution to your palate may interfere with some cheeses.

A Grilled Fillet of Halibut, Tuna, or Salmon, and …?

We’ve already stuck our respective noses up at the concept of sticking with a red wine for red meat. We’re going to keep on in that direction by suggesting our 2014 Malbec. You’ve probably started hearing about this red wine, which is now being grown in many places other than its native Argentina.

Your first taste of a Malbec may make you say, “Ah, a merlot.” They share that earthy and woody character. And like merlot, Malbec often was only used as a blending grape. Many cabernet sauvignons will use it to achieve a mellowness and balance.

But give that sip of Malbec a moment to develop. You begin to taste a rustic characteristic that the simpler merlot just can’t establish. Your nose will flash sensations of earth and perhaps even chocolate. If you pair Malbec with red meat, the enzymes will soften the tannins of the wine and let this fruitiness shine through. However, a grilled, thick-fleshed fish fillet leaves the mild tannins in place. You will love the results.

There are more wines on our list. We’ve got suggestions on what to pair for all of them. The rest of those suggestions will cost you a visit to the winery. Your reward is a taste of a superb family of wines.

For more information about Orange Coast Winery, our selection of wines, or to join one of our wine clubs, give us a call at 949-645-0400 or send us an email at

Time Posted: Oct 11, 2017 at 7:05 AM
Douglas Wiens
October 4, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

Complexity, Intensity, and Balance in That Glass of Wine

The three hallmarks of a great wine

Judging the quality of wine is often subjective. Every individual has a preference and one person’s “favorite” could make another turn up his or her nose. However, there are three general areas that can be used to determine the quality of any bottle of wine: complexity, intensity, and balance.

1. Complexity

Complexity refers to the different notes and flavor compositions that can be detected. A great wine will be multidimensional. According to sommelier Jorn Kleinhans, “That's where you get descriptors of flavor profile like plum, cherry, vanilla, or tobacco. The more of those flavors you can taste, the more complex the wine, and the more complex, the higher quality.”

There are several nuances that can lead to greater complexity. Start with the vineyard and the notion of terroir. According to, “Older vines as well as vines grown on poor soils tend to produce less grapes, but more concentrated, flavorful ones. This adds complexity.” Winemaking techniques can also affect the complexity. An approach that is more non-industrial will generally produce more complex wine. Barrel fermentation and the blending of different grapes are also ways to add complexity.

2. Intensity

Intensity has more to do with the ability to identify and distinguish the flavors present. It also relates to a wine’s appearance and aroma. The key is to have a very complex taste that still allows all the flavors and notes to be clear. In terms of appearance, the more concentrated and opaque the color, the higher the intensity should be. You will often see wines described as “pale, medium or dark” and this is an indication of intensity. The darker the color, the more intense the wine should taste.

How can you judge the intensity of a wine? Here is a tip from Wine Spectrum. Tilt the glass slightly (this works best against a white background - a napkin or tablecloth work nicely). Now, look straight down at the wine from above, the richer/ darker the color, the more intense the wine.

3. Balance

Just like in life, we want a good balance in a wine. According to another article on, “Balance is extremely important in any wine and one of its most sought after characteristics. A wine is balanced when all the different components are working in harmony - a balanced wine is one where no one component protrudes or awkwardly sticks out.”

There are 5 key components that need to be in balance:

  1. Sweetness: A sweet wine needs a good balance of acidity or it will taste syrupy.
  2. Acidity: Too little and the wine will taste heavy or flat. Too much and it will be austere and tart.
  3. Tannin: Tannin is an element that makes a wine taste dry. It adds bitterness, astringency and complexity. However, there needs to be sufficient fruit concentration so that as the tannins resolve (as the wine ages), there is still enough fruit flavor present. Too much tannin and the wine will be sharp and harsh to the taste.
  4. Alcohol: Too high and there will be a burning sensation on the finish. Too little and the wine will taste hollow.
  5. Fruit: Wines with insufficient fruit will have a weak, thin flavor.

Now that you know the three main ingredients that go into a quality wine, start judging for yourself. To find the perfect wine for your next dinner party or event, visit Orange Coast Winery and review our selection of fine wines for every price range and palate.

Time Posted: Oct 4, 2017 at 8:37 AM
Douglas Wiens
September 27, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

4 Reasons to Visit Orange Coast (Other than Our Wine)

You’ll come for the wine, but you’ll want to come back for so much more

It may not be too much of a revelation to say that most folks visit a winery for the wine. And while that is a perfectly fine reason to visit a winery, in many cases it’s the only reason. The wine may be great, but if there’s nothing else going on but other people silently sipping, that’s just boring.

Our goal with Orange Coast was to create a place where there was always something happening. The wine may have the starring role, but there are several supporting players that contribute to our fun and festive environment.

Live music

Orange Coast is quickly becoming a hot spot for some of the best musicians in the area. In addition to live music every Wednesday, we also host a number of special shows throughout the year. We recently held a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association featuring an evening of acoustic music from the great James Intveld.

Are you ready for some Malbec?!

Football and beer may be sort of synonymous with each other, but we’re trying to change that. Monday evening, we open up our Member’s Room for Monday Night Football. As you watch the action on the gridiron, you’ll have a chance to sample some amazing wine and tasty tidbits that will make you never want to go back to beer and pretzels.

The perfect date night

Whether it’s a first date or the first time in forever that you’ve been able to break away from the kids, we can provide a great atmosphere. We’ll get you set up in a cozy corner, bring you a couple of glasses of wine (or a bottle, perhaps), some food if you like, and then you can spend the rest of the evening staring into each other’s eyes. (or at your phones, whatever floats your boat.)

A great chance to meet people

You can stop in to Orange Coast pretty much every day and find fellow wine-lovers with their noses buried in their glasses. But if you are looking for a way in to get to know some of these folks to make a new acquaintance or perhaps for networking purposes, our wine clubs are perfect. We have two different clubs that not only give you a discount on all wine and food, you’ll also get exclusive access to our Member’s Room and invitations to our private events.

Have we got you anxious to experience Orange Coast for yourself? We’re open seven days a week and we’d love to see you! And if you’re looking for more information about us, our events, or anything else, you can call us at 949-645-0400 or send us an email to 

Time Posted: Sep 27, 2017 at 10:59 AM
Douglas Wiens
September 20, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

Terroir and the Taste of Wine

Explaining terroir and how it affects the wine you drink

There are many buzzwords associated with wine and the winemaking process. Words like bouquet (no, it’s not an arrangement of flowers), supple (a smooth, balanced wine), and legs (describes how wine sticks to the inside of a glass) are used by wine connoisseurs the world over. Another term – terroir – has great influence on how a wine will ultimately taste. If you’ve been around other wine aficionados, maybe you’ve heard the term. 

So, what is terroir and why does it matter when it comes to choosing a wine?

Wine Folly defines it as “how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.” 

According to Winemakers Academy, there are many factors that can affect terroir:

  • Climate

             o Microclimates

  • Soil conditions

             o Nutrients in the soil (minerals)

  • Terrain

             o Altitude of the vineyard

             o Vineyard slope

             o Slope direction

             o Proximity to mountains or bodies of water

             o Neighboring plants

  • Use of wild yeast instead of inoculated yeast
  • Fermentation temperature

Though all of these factors play a part in the ultimate taste of wine, there are three main ones: climate, soil conditions, and terrain. Let’s break them down.

1. Climate and terroir

Climate refers to the prevailing weather conditions in a particular area over a long period of time. Think of the difference in the climate of Florida versus Washington. There is another term called microclimate, which refers to atmospheric conditions in a small, restricted area. one example of a microclimate is San Francisco. The areas around the city are hot (Sonoma and Napa Valley for example), but because San Francisco has a consistent fog layer due to the surrounding mountains, it stays much cooler. 

Wine grapes are generally grown in two climates: cool or warm. Cool climates tend to produce grapes that have lower sugar levels, which means they have more acidity. Grapes produced in warm climate have higher sugar levels so they have higher alcohol levels. This means that the same type of wine (Cabernet Sauvignon for example) can have a different taste, depending on where the grapes were cultivated.

Examples of cool climate wine regions: 

  • Washington State
  • Oregon
  • New York
  • Northern Italy & France
  • New Zealand           
  •  Austria
  • Germany
  • Chile

Examples of warm climate wine regions:

  • California
  • Argentina
  • Southern Italy & Southern France
  • Australia
  • Central & Southern Spain
  • Most of South Africa

2. Soil conditions and terroir

The earth is made up of literally hundreds of types of soil, although there are 6 main ones: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, and loamy. Adding to this diversity is a wide variety of different minerals which are also present in the soil. Most vineyards have a combination of 5-6 different soils, and wine connoisseurs believe each type affects the flavor of wine.

3. Terrain and terroir

You’ll notice that the two words above are remarkably the same, and that’s because they have the same Latin root … terra or “earth.” Terrain refers to geological features in the area where wine grapes are grown. According to Wine Folly, “…Altitude is an increasingly important focus for quality vineyards. Besides elevation, things like geological features (mountains, valleys, being located far inland), other flora (plants, microbes and trees) and large bodies of water affect how a wine from a particular region tastes.”

One example of how elevation seems to affect taste is Mendoza in Argentina. It lies 4,000 feet above sea level and has become famous for its top-quality Malbec wines.

One more terroir factor … tradition

This bonus factor refers to wines or regions that are entrenched in a specific winemaking tradition. It doesn’t have as much to do with climate, soil, and terrain, but is more about the human contribution. One example is Madeira. According to Wine Folly, “It’s traditional to stop fermentation early and fortify a wine by adding brandy and aging it in barrels outside (under the sun). This gives Madeira its classic roasted and nutty flavor.”

So, what does this mean for you? Well, knowing where the grapes were grown may give you some idea of what a wine will taste like. Identify the wines that you like and explore where they were produced. Then find more wines from that region. This will help you choose a wine that a) you will like; and b) complements a particular meal.

Have fun exploring the wines from different regions and see if you can spot the difference in terroir.

For more guidance on how to evaluate wine, or how to purchase some of our best vintages or attend one of our tasting events, call Orange Coast Winery at 949-645-0400 or send an email to 

Time Posted: Sep 20, 2017 at 7:16 AM
Douglas Wiens
September 13, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

The Reviews are in: What People are Saying About Orange Coast Winery

Come see us and you’ll be a fan too

In the ancient world of wine, Orange Coast Winery is a newbie. If Orange Coast were a kid, she would only be in kindergarten. So, why are we one of the most well-known and popular wineries in the Newport Beach area? For a few reasons.

First, our wines are as good (if not better) than those you’ll find anywhere. Second, we’ve made it a point to create a fun and festive place filled with laughter and music. And last but far from least: We focus on giving our patrons an amazing experience each and every time they visit. But don’t just take our word for it; here are some recent reviews:

“Fell in love with this local winery on day one. Love it so much I had my bridal shower here. Great tasting area. Live music. The staff there have exceptional knowledge of their wines, and are pleasant & very friendly.” – Angelica J.

Paula F. also decided to use Orange Coast for a special event

“Had an amazing birthday party here with my friends. The team made it such a memorable event. From setting up a secluded area in the members-only room, to planning the food. They even had our favorite server pour for us (Scott). Peter the manager has done an outstanding job with the place and booking great talents like Sergio. The whole event goes down in history as one of my favorites.”

And people can’t seem to get enough of our bartender Robert!

“This place was great. Robert was awesome and honestly gives the best service. We will be coming back because of him.” – Chris P.

“Such a cute place with good ambiance, good wine and yummy food! We had Robert, he made our trip so fun and he is so knowledgeable! Make sure you ask for him and enjoy your time!” – Alaina C.

“Robert was our tasting host and it's been a very long time since I've been entertained with as much personality and wine knowledge as Robert shared with us. Aside from many great wines tasted, coming back and having Robert serve is worth another visit. The winery gets 5 stars, and Robert gets 5 stars +.” – Michael B.

But don’t forget about our wines!

“OCW makes their wines in Temecula and also in the Lodi area of Northern California. The menu denotes food pairings for each wine as well as explains the flavors. We really enjoyed the Orange Bubbly. It was fun and unique, almost like a mimosa, and we took a bottle of this home. Chardonnays are my favorite and I found their version to be crisp and bright.” – Morgan H.

“I would definitely recommend this place if you’ve never been to a winery or done wine tasting before! Oh, and if you like sweet, light wines, their "2015 summer blend" is the Holy Grail. I literally never tasted wine so delicious in my life.” – Emily R.

Orange Coast Winery in a nutshell…

“Great California wines in a chill atmosphere, generous tasting pours, friendly bar staff PLUS a delightful cheese board with the tasting. Can't get enough of this place.” – A N.

You can check out more reviews on Yelp. And if you want to see for yourself why so many folks rave about Orange Coast Winery, come visit us! We have tastings every evening and we’d love to see you. For more information or to set up a private event, contact us today.

Time Posted: Sep 13, 2017 at 9:49 AM
Douglas Wiens
September 6, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

Behind the Numbers Grading that Bottle of Wine

How wine scores are determined

Judging the quality of a wine is often a numbers game today. The number – or score – a wine receives has become one of its most important selling points. A good score can elevate a brand into the upper echelons of the wine and spirits industry. A bad year can damage even a long-standing producer’s reputation. So, what do the numbers mean and how are they determined? What’s the difference between an 85 and a 93?

Why we have a point system

Wine has been around for thousands of years, of course. In that time, various systems were developed to judge the standards of the vino we drink. Major wine-producing regions such as France have used a strict system for hundreds of years. Although it worked when picking a type of wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.), it did not work nearly as well for choosing a specific vintage.

In the 1980s, writer and wine critic Robert Parker developed a new 100-point rating system. According to Wine Folly, “The 100-point wine rating system has become the benchmark of quality in the wine industry.” Wine is judged on production quality and typicity, or how much a wine is typical of its style and region.

What the numbers mean

The Robert Parker system actually uses a 50-100 point quality scale. Wines below 50 are not judged. Here is a breakdown of what the numbers mean:

96-100 – An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.

90 – 95 – An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.

80 – 89 – A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

70 – 79 – An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.

60 – 69 – A below-average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.

50 – 59 – A wine deemed to be unacceptable

Other notable publications that now use this scale include: Wine Spectator, Vinous, Decanter Magazine, James Suckling, Jamie Goode (The Wine Anorak blog), Jeff Leve (The Wine Cellar Insider), and Wine & Spirits Magazine.

How the score is determined

Tastings are usually done in peer-group, single-blind conditions, meaning types of wines (e.g., a Bordeaux or Riesling) are tasted together without revealing the names of the producers. The tastings look only at the quality of the wine on that day. The price and the producer or grower is not part of the equation.

The critics are taken to a room that is free of scents or other elements that could affect the results. Each wine is poured into a glass and the critic goes through a specific ritual that includes swirling the wine in the glass, sniffing the wine, and then tasting it. The wine is not swallowed; it’s spat out. Between each tasting, the palate must be cleansed with neutral-tasting food or drink.

Critics typically look at four qualities of the wine and then assign a number for each element. The Robert Parker score includes the following:

  1. The wine’s general color and appearance merit up to 5 points.
  2. The aroma and bouquet merit up to 15 points, depending on the intensity level and dimension of the aroma and bouquet as well as the cleanliness of the wine.
  3. The flavor and finish merit up to 20 points, and again, intensity of flavor, balance, cleanliness, and depth and length on the palate are all important considerations when giving out points.
  4. Finally, the overall quality level or potential for further evolution and improvement—aging—merits up to 10 points.

The points are then added up for all of the elements to determine the final score.

A caution about the numbers

Although a high score is a good indication of a great-tasting wine, it’s important to remember that all scores are subjective and based on the individual critic’s taste and preference. Some prefer a bolder flavor, others subtler notes. Some critics also give routinely higher scores than others. Even the mood of the critic on that day can affect a score. 

Also keep in mind that Robert Parker’s method is not the only ratings system for judging wine. There are other well-known systems, including: The UC Davis 20-Point System, Jancis Robinson 20-Point System (Decanter Magazine), and even several 5-Point Systems, such as and Vino in Love.

Knowing the “score” behind the score can help you choose the perfect wine for dinner or your next party. And if you want no doubt you’ll be sampling great wine, visit Orange Coast Winery and review our selection of fine wines for every price range and palate.

Time Posted: Sep 6, 2017 at 12:44 PM
Douglas Wiens
August 30, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

Fruit, Flowers, Oak, and More: The Flavors and Aromas of Orange Coast Wines

Prepare to learn the story of a grape’s journey, told through aromas and flavors.

What do you taste? It’s the penultimate question related to wine. That’s because what you taste is totally dependent on a wine’s aroma. The easily-identifiable fragrances and aromas in wine are due to the grapes being used, which develop their characteristics from the terroir—the soil in which they grow—and finally by the choices made by the winemaker.

We append elements like aroma and flavor as a way to communicate the way wine interacts with us. It’s exciting and gratifying when we identify a singular characteristic in a wine, and those drinking it with us agree: they can taste or smell it, too!

Primary aromas

You’ll experience what’s known as a primary aroma in a young wine. These early scents are mostly identified with fruits. With red wines, you’ll detect:

  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Boysenberry
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Cassis

White wines often are associated with primary tastes of:

  • Citrus
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Pineapple, or other tropical fruits

You say you’re tasting a hint of coffee? Or maybe chocolate? You’re detecting the characteristics the wine has pulled in from the oak casks in which it aged. Different wood species will help wine to develop characteristics that can remind you of flowers, or even licorice.

With age, sophistication

Over time, as the wine continues to age in the bottle, it’ll develop what’s known as tertiary qualities. These are the secondary flavors and aromas that’ll come to mind when you take a sip of wine and after you experience the stronger primary flavors and aromas.

They won’t come so easy. Often, they’re subtle. You’ll definitely need your best sense of smell to coax them out. Some of the more easily recognizable ones are:

  • Tobacco
  • Spice
  • Earth
  • Smoke
  • Stone

These tertiary qualities develop over time, and they add both complexity and depth to a wine. They’re usually associated more with the characteristics of the earth in which the grapes grew. A taste of wine that after a moment makes you think of stones often speaks of soil that sits upon limestone bedrock. It shapes the pH of the soil. The grapes have pulled this in through the soil, and now they’re telling you the story of the ground in which they grew.

Who knew that wine could be such a conversationalist?

What do Orange Coast wines have to say?

The Orange Coast Malbecs and Zinfandels will definitely speak to you of berries. If your preference is for a white wine, you’ll find that the Orange Coast Pinot Grigio has a primary aroma of pears and finishes with a floral flourish. The Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, will serve you an aroma of lemon grass and citrus before finishing off with hints of vanilla.

What do you taste? The sensations your nose and mouth deliver to you are pieces of the story of a grape’s journey. You’re experiencing the tale of what it took from the earth as it grew, what it learned from the wood as it fermented, and what it combined to unfold as it aged in a bottle.

For more information about Orange Coast Winery, our selection of wines, or to join one of our wine clubs, give us a call at 949-645-0400 or send us an email at

Time Posted: Aug 30, 2017 at 10:35 AM
Douglas Wiens
August 28, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

The Musicians of Orange Coast Winery

Excellent wine and great music: Is there a better combination?

Though the wine may be the star of the show, there are other reasons to come out to the winery to see us. We regularly host special events, including live music featuring some of the best musicians from the area and all over the country. Here’s just a sample of who you might see when you visit us.

James Intveld

Image credit

A native of Los Angeles, James Intveld has been performing for decades and has put out three albums. Often compared to the likes of Roy Orbison and Ricky Nelson, Intveld creates his own unique blend of music that encompasses old-fashioned rockabilly with a more modern flare. In addition to music, Intveld has other passions: acting and directing. He’s been in several movies, including Indian Runner and Chrystal, and you didn’t see him in Cry Baby, but you heard him every time Johnny Depp sang. To learn more about James Intveld, you can visit his website, and you can see him in person at the Orange Coast Winery on September 21. The show benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.

Andreas Stavropoulos

Image credit

Originally from Greece, Stavropoulos has been in the U.S. for less than a decade, but he has already established himself around the country as a great musician and excellent storyteller. While with two alternative rock bands, he released two albums that have gotten extensive radio play. Currently Stavropoulos is touring as Andreas and the Revolving Riot, an acoustic act featuring a mix of new songs, fan favorites, and even a cover or two. Although he does a lot of solo shows, he is frequently joined by other talented musicians on stage. Stavropoulos has performed numerous times at the Orange Coast Winery, and every show is a blast. Check out his Facebook page to see what he’s up to.

Donovan Raitt

Image credit

Donovan Raitt is one of the premier acoustic guitarists working today. Incorporating elements from rock, jazz, and even classical music, Raitt utilizes innovative techniques to create a sound all his own. And if his last name seems familiar, that’s because his cousin is Bonnie Raitt. Donovan Raitt has released two solo albums and his YouTube videos have gotten thousands of plays. He has also written guitar lessons for several websites and he teaches regular classes. For more information on Raitt, you can visit his website.

The best part of the live music events at the Orange Coast Winery is that they coincide with our tastings. While you sample our amazing wines, you’ll be treated to some excellent tunes. If you have questions about who’s performing this week or anything else concerning the winery, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us at 949-645-0400 or send an email to

Time Posted: Aug 28, 2017 at 5:51 AM
Douglas Wiens
August 16, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

Some Essential Wines Defined

Orange Coast Winery looks at a few of the stalwarts in a crowded field

As the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste. Every vineyard will make a case that their wine is the finest. There are more than 10,000 varieties of wine grapes grown across the world, and when it comes to wine and its consumers, there are as many different favorites as there are labels.

Before highlighting some essential types of wine, it's necessary to return to the basics. Wine may fall under five primary categories: red, white, sparkling, rose, and dessert. Classifications then branch off into dry and sweet wines, and flavors deepen even further based upon qualities like acidity and tannin (bitterness). For now, let's stick to the five basic types and list a few wines that can rightly be called indispensable.

The Reds


Taking its name from the French for “blackbird,” Merlot is a rich, dark red wine derived from one of the world's most popular grapes. The flavor of Merlot is said to give hints of black cherries, licorice, plums and chocolate. This French grape reached American shores in the mid-19th century and since then, the wine has become a top-three favorite.

Merlot is typically less sugary than a Cabernet Sauvignon, with which Merlot is often blended. Leaning toward the dry side, Merlot has also been classified a medium-flavored wine. If you're new to Merlot, you may enjoy pairing it with steak, fish, or pasta.


Hugely popular in Argentina, Malbec is another French-derived dry, dark red that pairs well with lamb, game, and beef, as well as spicier fare like Thai or Indian. Its complex taste and aroma have been compared to earth, leather, tobacco and pepper. Typically of mid-level acidity and tannin, Malbec possesses a tangier and sharper flavor than Merlot.

The Whites

Chardonnay (White Burgundy)

White wines are more crisp due to their lower tannin and higher acidity. Chardonnay hails from the Burgundy region of France and the ability of its grape to adapt well to various regions has seen this wine become the most popular white in the world. Chardonnay is often associated with bright, citrusy flavors and is best enjoyed with mild foods such as baked poultry or fish, sweet potatoes, and other buttery vegetables.


Although not as commonly known as its peers Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, Sémillon merits a strong place on most wine lists due to its versatility, with dry and sweet varieties. Its taste has a zesty flavor comparable to apples, lemons, and pears when grown in cooler climates, and hints of mango, peach, and papaya when raised in warmer ones. If you're serving Sémillon as your table wine, couple it with light foods like seafood salads, crabs, and clams.

The Sparklers


Cava, officially Cava DO (“Denominación de Origen”), consists of three white grapes (Parellada, Xarel-lo, and Macabeu) which, when combined, lend this sparkling and fruity wine a typically floral aroma and a citrus-based taste. Cava also comes in aged (nuttier) Brut and Rosé varieties and can have more of an earthy taste than its glamorous cousin, champagne. It's a versatile wine that goes well with white meat, cheese, rice, and seafood.


It had to make the list! Named after its region of origin in northeastern France, there's no other wine that has the public profile of champagne. It's the toast of winners and the marker of joyful occasions –and as such, is one of the most widely-consumed varieties on earth.

Described as floral, fruity, and spicy, the dryer Brut champagnes and the sweeter Secs offer the best of these flavors, with each benefiting from being well chilled before serving (the benefits being a boost to fizz and flavor). Lobster is a firm favorite to serve with champagne, as are other forms of seafood like oysters. Grilled chicken and egg dishes also pair well.

The Rosés


The Syrah blend of this particular wine is darker than your typical rosé (which is usually pinkish in tone) and has sweet tones of strawberry, peach, and olive. You have plenty of options to team Syrah with food: It's enjoyable to drink with pork, light breaded meals or pasta, pizza, crispy prosciutto, salads, or shrimp.

Pink Moscato

A particularly fruity pink, Moscato conjures up images of orange, pomegranate, and cherry for its drinkers. It sits nicely beside spicy foods or zesty Chinese meals and salads. It's sweet enough by some to be classed as a dessert wine, but as we said: There's no accounting for taste. You can pair a pink with beef or a dark red with fish if it works for you!

The Desserts


A traditional and highly-respected wine with a dash of brandy, Port is a firm favorite whose hybrid recipe lends it a heavier, sweeter, and richer taste than many wines. It's also very versatile when paired with food. Commonly served towards the end of a meal (hence the term “dessert wine”) with items like cheese, cakes, chocolate or biscuits, port can also precede a meal as an aperitif or be served along with the main course. If you choose the latter, try combining Port with a white meat salad.


Sherry is a delicate wine, drier in texture than Port and with a lower alcohol content. Like port, it should be stored at lower temperatures. Also like port, it adapts well beside any meal. Whether you choose white meats, fish, salads, or light seafood with complements of nuts, rice, or mushrooms, there will be a sherry that suits your purpose. If you can't have another bite, then sherry, port, or brandy go famously with after-dinner cigars.

At Orange Coast Winery, we believe a blend of science and art can make the good life even better. With precision and passion, we select the finest grapes from our own vineyards located throughout the Temecula Valley and the Lodi area of Northern California. You can email us at for private or corporate events, at for Admin or Wine Club information, or simply call 949-645-0400 to get in touch.

Time Posted: Aug 16, 2017 at 8:36 AM
Douglas Wiens
August 15, 2017 | Douglas Wiens

How to Taste Wine: A Guide for Beginners

Your server arrives at the table. She has the wine list. Actually, it’s more of a wine book. She gives everyone the “who should I give this to?” quizzical look, and then she follows the direction of everyone’s gaze. They’re looking at you.

It’s a nightmare scenario for the uninitiated. You know as much about wine as you do about nuclear fusion. Wine comes from grapes, and fusion is why the sun is hot. You’ll get through this. You choose a Merlot because it’s … well, red, and most of your fellow diners are opting for a steak. The server returns with the wine, uncorks and pours a small amount into your glass. You’re supposed to taste it. That much you know. Now, what?

Go ahead and taste it!

If your knowledge of wine is next to nothing, check out our guide for beginners:

The first thing that comes to mind

At a basic level, there are really only two things to know and remember:

  • 1. Be sure to inhale through the nose as you bring the glass of wine up to your lips. This is because our sense of taste is highly dependent on our sense of smell. If you don’t believe it, try pinching your nose and eating or drinking something. If you want to appreciate the taste of the wine you are about to drink, you also want to introduce yourself to its aroma.
  • 2. Comment on the first thing that comes to your mind after you take that first sip of the wine. Don’t bother with any theatrical mouth swishing. Just let that sip linger for a few brief seconds before you swallow. Then express what came to your mind.

There is no wrong answer.

Those two steps are easy enough to follow. What comes next might not be, chiefly because it seems like we should have a response on par with the wine experts. Leave those complicated descriptions to oenophiles (connoisseurs of wine) and sommeliers. Here’s why:

You might take a sip of a red wine and discover, to your, surprise the first thing that comes to your mind is … cement! As in, the stuff that sidewalks are made out of. No, the wine itself doesn’t taste like cement. It’s delicious. But nevertheless, the thought of cement jumps right into your head.

Give yourself high praise if something like this occurs. What you’ve detected is the wine’s terroir. The unique soil composition of a geographical area contributes to the taste of the wine created by the grapes grown there.

The grapes for some of the world’s best-regarded wines grow in areas where the soil absorbs minerals from the limestone beds below. Lime is a crucial component in cement. Conjuring up the memory of the smell of a sidewalk on a hot summer afternoon after tasting a certain wine’s terroir makes perfect sense.

Of course, the earth isn’t the only thing flavoring a great wine. Wines are sweet or fruity; light or full-bodied; and often have traces of delightful flavors like vanilla and lemon grass.

And that’s why there’s nothing wrong with being honest about expressing the first thing that comes to mind after you taste a glass of wine. Embrace it.

You’re in the grape’s world now.

For more information about Orange Coast Winery, our selection of wines, or to join one of our wine clubs, give us a call at 949-645-0400 or send us an email at

Time Posted: Aug 15, 2017 at 12:13 PM