California soil is perfect for growing wine; almost all the wine the U.S. produces is made in California because the soil can support many different grape varietals, noble and otherwise. In fact, California vintners can craft all the popular types of wine, and a variety more besides. California wine has risen in popularity in recent years, but this wine country has been producing quality bottles for decades.
Types of Grapes Available:
When shopping for California wine, you'll discover all your favorite reds, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Malbec. The white list is just as extensive, and includes popular choices like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Semillon.
Most Popular California Wines:
The California growing regions, including the popular Napa Valley, are known for some specific types of wine. You can find these wines all over the country. Experiment with different winemakers to discover bottles that make your heart sing and your palate dance.
The soil in Northern California is especially good for red wines, and Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most prevalent wines from that region. You can expect a Northern California Cab to taste like dark fruits, including blackberry and black currant, as well as licorice and even black pepper. It is a darker red, though not as dark as Syrah, and pairs well with burgers, steaks and mushrooms. Many people mistakenly pair it with chocolate, but you'll love it more with a savory flavor.
In California, you'll find vineyards that do both kinds of Chardonnay: oaked and unoaked. With an oaked Chardonnay, expect a fuller body and a buttery taste. Unoaked Chardonnay is lighter, almost like a Pinot Grigio. Both are delicious for different reasons. Oaked Chardonnays come from the Napa Valley area, while unoaked varieties often come from Sonoma.
Try Chardonnay with soft cheeses, white fish, and a variety of spices like parsley, thyme, tarragon and white pepper. Preparing a vegetarian dish? Season your veggies with these seasonings and enjoy the dish with your favorite California Chardonnay.
Napa and Sonoma both produce much of California's Sauvignon Blanc. When you uncork a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, you can expect flavors that run the gamut from herbaceous to fruity. California Sauvignon Blanc might contain flavor notes like green olive or fig, depending on the grape and the region. Fruity doesn't mean sweet here because Sauvignon Blanc is usually dry. This is the perfect wine to drink with chicken and fish dishes.