Slap Bag to Wine Glasses: CM’s Guide to Vino

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BY Nancy Mucciarone > Junior > Magazine Journalism > Syracuse University

Is wine just a hangover in a box? In college, the answer is often yes.  But not anymore. While we can’t promise to rid you of that throbbing headache, we can assure you that Franzia will no longer be your only choice of wine.

Let’s start with the basics: red wine is made from red grapes, and white wine is made from white grapes (kind of self-explanatory). “The big difference? Red wine uses the skins of the grapes,” according to Michael Green, wine expert of Liquid Assets Consulting Group. “Red wines often have a higher degree of tannin—found on the skin of grapes—and creates a bit more grip and structure to the wine.” White wines are typically lighter, more refreshing and served cooler than red wines.

When it comes to pairing wine with food, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, authors of What to Drink with What you Eat, said that it’s important to master the basics if you want to impress. They suggest following the old saying: “Red wine with red meat, white wine with fish.” And always order an appropriate wine with flavors that go well with what you’re eating. “If you’re having oysters and you order an expensive red Bordeaux, you’re not going to impress anyone because the flavors will clash,” they said. And when you’re ordering wine for a meal with that significant other, your parents or a prospective employer, you’ll want to appear at least a little wine savvy.  

Looking to buy good wine on a beer budget? While $5 wine probably isn’t going to cut it, you also don’t need to spend $50 on a single bottle.  Green suggests finding a style of wine that you like and then finding a “stunt double” that is far less expensive. Instead of buying expensive genuine champagne, look for the cheaper American brands of sparkling wine. “There is a sea of affordable and tasty wine out there for your sipping pleasure,” Green said.

If the rules of wine are too much for you to remember, expert food and wine matcher Natalie MacLean has created the perfect cheat sheet: the Drinks Matcher widget. Download the widget to your desktop from to get great wine pairings for everything from pizza to pop tarts.

College Magazine Staff

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