The French Classification Tables

The Rhone Valley
There are 8 Crus in the North and 5 Crus in the South

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Super Tuscans

SUPER TUSCANS source: Italian Trade Commission, Associazione Banco d’Assaggio dei Vini d’Italia (for DOCG & DOCs), Clarke & Spurrier and various.

THE VARIOUS STYLES & BLENDS Producers and their wines

Many also produce traditionally classified wines.

Sangiovese or other Tuscan grape variety based wines Altesino Palazzo Altesi, Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto, Biondi-Santi (Sassoalloro), Boscarelli (Boscarelli), Castello di Brolio (Casalferro), Case Basse (Intistieti), Castellare (I Sodi di San Niccolò), Felsina (Fontalloro), Fontodi (Flaccianello), Isole e Olena (Cepparello), Castello di Monsanto (Fabrizio Bianchi), Monte Bernardi (Sa’etta), Montevertine (Le Pergole Torte, Il Sodaccio), Fattoria Petrolo (Torrione), Poggio Antico (Altero), Poggio Scalette (Il Carbonaione), Poggiopiano (Rosso di Sera), Poliziano (Elegia), Castello di Querceto (La Corte), Riecine (La Gioia), Rocca di Montegrossi (Geremia), San Giusto a Rentennano (Percarlo), Michele Satta (Vigna al Cavaliere), Castello di Volpaia (Coltassala), Vecchie Terre di Montefili (Anfiteatro).
Blends of Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon Altesino (Alte d’Altesi), Antinori (Tignanello), Avignonesi (Grifi), Basciano (Il Corto, I Pini), Gagliole (Gagliole), Montepeloso-Neukom Doris (Nardo), Moris Farms (Avvoltore), Pertimali (Fili di Seta), Pieve Santa Restituta (Promis), Castello di Querceto (Il Querciolaia), Querciabella (Camartina), Ruffino (Cabreo Il Borgo), San Felice (Vigorello), San Gervaso (A Sirio), Castello di Volpaia (Balifico), Valtellina (Convivio), Villa Cafaggio (San Martino).

Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blends: Antinori (Solaia), Castello dei Rampolla (Sammarco), Ghizzano (Veneroso), Vecchie Terre di Montefili (Bruno di Rocca), Villa Cafaggio (Cortaccio).

Sangiovese-Merlot blends Fonterutoli (Siepi), Castelgiocondo (Luce).
Pure Cabernet Sauvignons as in the New World style Altesino (Borgo d’Altesi), Carpineto (Farnito), Col d’Orcia (Olmaia), Isole e Olena (Collezione de Marchi), Poliziano (Le Stanze), Castello dei Rampolla (Vigna d’Alceo), Ruffino (Nozzole Il Pareto), Sassacaia.
Pure Merlot in the Napa and Pomerol style Avignonesi (Toro Desiderio), Casa Emma (Soloio), Castelgiocondo (Lamaione), Castello di Ama (Vigna L’Apparita), Ghizzano (Nambrot), Le Macchiole (Messorio), Ornellaia (Masseto), Fattoria Petrolo (Galatrona), Rietine (Tiziano), Tua Rita (Redigaffi).
Cabernet-Merlots in the Medoc and Californian Meritage style

(although Meritages can include varieties such as Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc)

Banfi (Excelsus), Buonamico (Il Fortino), Capezzana (Ghiaie della Furba), Felsina (Maestro Raro), Guado del Re (Federico Primo), Ornellaia (Ornellaia), Le Pupille (Saffredi), Castello di Querceto (Cignale), Terriccio (Lupicaia, Tassinaia), Tua Rita (Giusto di Notri).
Syrah and Shiraz in the Northern Rhone and Australian style Tenementi d’Alessandro (Podere Il Bosco), Fontodi (Case Via), Isole e Olena (L’Eremo), Le Macchiole (Scrio).
Other Blended wines Argiano (Solengo), Banfi (Summus), Buonamico (Rosso di Cerratoia), Dei (Sancta Catherina), Il Vivaio (San Donnino, Semi Fonte).

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The Top Level Wines of Italy

Famous Italian DOCG that informally are ranked similar as the Crus

Albana di Romagna, Asti Spumante, Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti, Franciacorta, Gattinara, Montefalco Sagrantino, Moscato d’Asti, Taurasi, Torgiano Riserva, Vermentino di Gallura, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Italian ‘Super-Tuscans’ are considered to be of Cru quality

It was in the 1970’s that some Italian wines (mainly in the Tuscan region) went through a revolution of style – the production of hand-crafted wines of international standing, using well known varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. In many cases the Italian Sangiovese grape was added to the blend. Wines made did not fall within the classifications of Italy and could only be labeled as Vino da Tavola. However the wines were so impressive that the wines were considered to be as good as or better than the DOCG wines. Because most of the wines came from Tuscany, the wines became known as Super Tuscans.

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Regional & Country Wines (Category B) of France – The French Vin de Pays

On 4th September 1979 the denomination of Vins de Pays or Country Wine became official. Unlike the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controleé) it offers vignerons and winemakers latitude to experiment and improve on wine qualities, even making wines in the New World styles.

The L’Onivins (Office national interprofessionnel des vins) is the controlling body and Vins de Pays can come from around 100 zones and 5 regions throughout:

  1. Vins de Pays du Jardin de la France = Loire Valley
  2. Vins de Pays d’Oc = Pyrenees Orientales au Gard or Ardecgem / Vins de pays du Comte
  3. Tolosan = Pyrenees Atlantiques a l’Aveyron or SW France
  4. Vins de Pays de Comtes Rhodaniens = Drome, Beaujolais, Savoie, Jura, North Rhone
  5. Vins de Pays Portes de la Mediterraneé

All regional Vins de pays, like AOC are subject to regulations and tastings by professionals before the wine can bear the title of Country Wines. Expect value drinking in this category where most wines are labeled by grape variety!

Ditto for other European wines.

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Textures & Body

Yet another way you might describe wine texture is by the body of the wine.

The body of the wine can be light, medium, or heavy.

Imagine a light-bodied wine to feel thin in the mouth much like lime juice.

In the same way, a medium-bodied wine is one that is a little more heavy in the mouth much like Teh-O or tea without milk.

The full-bodied wine might be compared to a Kopi, coffee with condensed milk that comes across thick in the mouth.

If you choose wines by their body-weight (as in the E-Wineasia easy-search wine engine on its ‘Buy’ pages) then you might agree with our classification beneath. Remember, it is but a generalisation.

Light Bodied Whites

Portuguese dry white wines, Italian dry white wines, Austrian dry white wines, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and unwooded Chardonnay.

Medium Bodied Whites

Chardonnay and White burgundy. Viognier

Heavy Bodied Whites

Chardonnay with high alcohol levels of 13-14%; Sweet dessert wines; Sherries

Light Bodied Reds

Beaujolais, Cab-mac (australian), Gamay, Bardolino, Valpolicella, Dolcetto, Wines with lower alcohol levels, Vin de Table etc.

Medium Bodied Reds

Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Syrah, Cotes du Rhone, Chianti Classico, Merlot, Cabernet Franc

Heavy Bodied Reds

Ports, Charbono, Zinfandel, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Bordeaux, Merlot, Shiraz

Sources for this module: Peynaud, Richard and Orsal, Marieb, Hanig, Encyclopedia of Medicine, Neurophysiology, Laing, Slavkin, Steiner, Miller and Reedy, etc.

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Mouthfeel & Textures

Mouthfeel is a term that advanced tasters always refer to as a quality parameter of the wine. It is the sensory perception of touch/texture or tactile sensations on the surface of the oral cavity, (including the filiform papila that send signals via the trigeminal nerve to the brain about textural differences in food and wine).

It is interesting to note that astringency, body, viscosity, bitterness and acidity in a wine are interrelated.

Mouthfeel of the Wine according to the Australian Wine Research Institute can be described as the Irritation or Heat sensations derived from the alcoholic content although there is interaction with the acids in the wine.

In turn, they affect the Texture, Weight and Acidity

Try using the following terms to describe wine.

Other Sensations of the mouthfeel are divided into the following:

IRRITATING – Ranging from Spritz and Prickling to Tingling and Peppery

HEAT – Ranging from Chilli Hot to Warm (e.g. High alcohol wines)

TEXTURAL – Creamy, syrupy (e.g. Chardonnays and many sweet wines)

WEIGHT – Viscous, full, or thin and watery (low alcohol, low acid wines)

ACIDITY – Metallic, steely, sour, soapy

FLAVOUR – Concentrated, active, Intense

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Sensations in the Mouth

Whilst it is common knowledge that our tongues are most sensitive to

  • sweetness at the tip of the tongue
  • saltiness on either side and over the top of the tongue near the front
  • sourness along the sides of the tongue but further back
  • bitterness on the rear top of the tongue

Current research into sensory perception indicate that many of the sweet-sour-salt-bitter taste sensations are detected on all portions of the tongue and other parts of the oral cavity.

The tongue and one of the Taste Receptors
Some tasters have more papillae than others. The papillae are smaller but grouped densely. These tasters are supposed to be more sensitive to the various sensations

Taste receptors are located all over in the oral cavity but the majority of receptors are found in the various papillae of the tongue. Each papilla contains hundreds of taste buds each with many taste cells. The papillae are of four kinds, each of which is simultaneously sensitive to two or more sensations:

  • Foliate (leaf-like) – mostly on the lateral posterior surface of the tongue
  • Circumvallate (large and flat) – most sensitive to bitterness, forming a “V” near the junction of the posterior and middle third of the tongue
  • Fungiform (mushroom-like) – majority is found at the tip and central portion of the tongue, sensitive to sweetness but also saltiness and sourness.
  • Filiform – most sensitive to textures, found on the dorsum of the tongue. These are the most numerous of the tongue papilla
SOURCE: Adapted from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

The various papillae located on the tongue and their sensitivities to the various sensations.
Scheme of the regional gustatory preferences nested within the 10,000 taste buds distributed on the human tongue. This scheme also shows the recent discovery of two taste receptor genes-TR1 and TR2-that appear to facilitate sweet and bitter taste signals.

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Flavours in the Mouth

Have you watched a wine connoisseur drink wine and witnessed the ‘ceremony’ that goes along with it? They are quite simply tasting and appreciating wine (see 101.1).

Novices can just as easily hone their senses to develop a better palate to discern the good from the bad. All it takes is a ‘re-training’ of your senses by familiarising yourself with the tasting process. After having considered the colour of the wine (see 201.1) and having taken a few sniffs to detect the aromas of wine (see 501.1), take some of the wine into your mouth.The best way to detect flavours (aromas, bouquet and more) on your taste buds is to have not too much of wine in your mouth. Then take in some air from your mouth and expel the air through your nose. The air will enable the flavours and aromas to permeate through your receptors in your nose to your olfactory bulb whilst your taste buds sense the wine (chew the wine like you would with a piece of tough steak).

Swallow the wine after “chewing” it, as the action will further rouse your taste buds. Then take in more wine with air again before finally swallowing it.

Your appraisal
As for the taste of wine, the best approach after the above is to ask yourself some questions immediately after conducting the above exercise. These are some of the quality factors of wine.

  • Is the wine soft and silky or is it hard sandy and chewy (tannins)?
  • Is the wine dry, medium, sweet or very sweet (style)?
  • Does the wine come across as flat, lively or is it overly tart, making your mouth pucker up (acidity and the balance with sweetness; See 801.1)?
  • Does it last long in the mouth and are you involuntarily reaching for more (the finish and aftertaste)?
  • Were there a lot of different intermingling flavours (complexity)?
  • Did you like the wine and what did you like most about the wine’s personality and character (See 401.1)?
  • Was it the aroma, the mouthfeel, texture (chunky and rough or smooth), the taste (sour/sweet) or both that you liked?
  • Perhaps the ultimate taste test is the simplest. “Did you almost involuntarily reach for more of the wine because you liked it?”

Above all, be assured that wine appraisal is a personal ranking of preferences. Approach wine as you would food. Your opinion may differ from your partners, so don’t let someone else dictate your wine preferences.

However, in order to defend your position of choice of wine, you will need to know a few more aspects about tasting. Read on!

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An A-Z Of Cheese And Wine Matching


Appenzell, Swiss

Dry white from Europe or full bodied red wine from the New World

Asiago, Italy

Full bodied fruity and oaky New World Chardonnay, Chianti or Nebbiolo

Baby Bel, France

Light reds from Italy or Beaujolais from France

Bavarian Blue, Germany

Dry Rieslings and austere Chenin Blancs

Beaufort, France

Mersault, other elegant Chardonnays and Chasselas

Beenleigh Blue, England


Bleu d’Auvergne, France

Sauternes, Montbazillacs, Jurancon or Sauvignon Blanc

Bleu de Bresse, France

Medium bodied reds

Bonchester, Scotland

Merlot, and Right Bank Bordeaux

Boursault, France

Tempranillo and most Spanish reds and Zinfandel

Boursin, France

Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre

Brebis, France

Cahors, Buzet, Reds from Provence

Brie, France

Champagne, Chablis, Merlot, Red burgundy

Tasmanian Brie, Australian

New World Chardonnay

Brie de Meaux, France

Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly Fume, Fume Blanc

Brillat Savarin, France

Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis

Bridamour, France

Reds for SW France

Butterkase, Germany

Old world Rieslings with some age

Cabrales, Spain

Sherry or any Spanish red and white wine

Caerphilly, Wales

Sweet white wines

Camembert, France

Bordeaux wines, Cotes du Rhone reds, Bandol, Corbieres and most slightly tannic reds Riesling and Chenin Blanc


Rosé wines and medium bodied reds

Cantal, France

Reds from Languedoc Rousillon

Carre de l’est

Light fruity reds

Cashel Blue, Ireland

Mature white wines

Cave cheese, Denmark

Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc

Chabichou du Poitou, France

Most medium-heavy bodied red wines but also a late harvest Gewurtztraminer

Cheddar, England


Smoked Cheddar, various

Sweet white or Chardonnay/Mersault

Cheshire, England

Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Rieslings (Old World), sparkling wines

Chevre, France

Zinfandel, Petit Syrah

Colby, US


Comte, France

Cote du Rhone, unoaked Chardonnay

Coulommiers, France

Beaujolais, New World Pinot Noir (youthful)

Cream cheese, various

Sauvignon Blanc, Entre deux Mers, white Graves, Beaujolais

Crottin de Chavignol, France

Sauternes and other sweet wines

Danish blue, Denmark

Zinfandel, Shiraz

Edam, Netherlands

Cotes du Rhone, Southern Rhone reds

Emmental, Swiss

Mature red wines

Epoisses, France

Chardonnay, Greek white wines

Feta, Greece

Barbaresco, Chardonnay and Tuscan reds

Fontina, Italy

Cotes du Rhone, Port

Fourme d’ambert, France


Glocester, England

Barolo, Grenache, Nebbiolo and sweet whites

Gorgonzola, Italy

Chardonnay, white Burgundy, Chinon red and Cabernet Franc

Gouda, Netherlands

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Grana Padano, Italy

Pinot Gris, Sparkling wines, medium bodied reds

Gruyere, Swiss

Light reds

Havarti, Denmark

Rioja (white)

Idiazabal, Spain


Kefalotiri, Greek

Burgundy and young Pinot Noirs

Lancashire, England

Mature Pinot Noir and Burgundy

Langres, France

Rustic reds, from SW France, Provence

Leicester, England

Tokay Pinot Gris

Limburg, Germany

Sweet whites, late harvests and ice wine

Livarot, France


Mahon, Spain

Amontillado Sherry, Champagne and sparkling wines

Manchego, Spain

Medium bodied red wine

Mariolles, France

Arbois white, sherry, Gevrey-Chambertin and Hunter Valley Syrah

Morbier, France

Vinho Verde, Rose


New World Chardonnay, medium bodied Red

Monterey Jack, US

Soave, Pinot Grigio

Mozzarella, Italy

Gewurtztraminer, light sweet whites and reds

Muenster, France

Barolo, Barbaresco, tannic and youthful but high quality reds

Parmigiano, Italy


Pecorino, Italy

Mature red wines

Pont l’Eveque, France

Medium bodied red wine, not too expensive

Port Salut, France

Young Chianti, Dolcetto d’Alba

Provolone, Italy

Chasselas, Chablis

Raclette, Swiss

Chardonnay, Sancerre

Reblochon, France


Rebiola, Italy

Port, Sherry , Amarone, Chateauneuf du Pape, Vin Paille

Roquefort, France

Chinon, Sancerre, Pinot Gris

St. Maure, France

Cote du Rhone, Fronsac

St. Nectaire, France

Bordeaux and sweet wines

Shropshire Blue, England

Port or Chardonnay

Stilton, England



Mature white Burgundy, mature single vinyard Rhones

Tete de Moine, Swiss


Tetilla, Spain
Beaujolais, Merlot
Tomme de Savoie, France
Tokay Pinot Gris, Chablis, Corton, Barsac
Vacherin Mont d’Or, France  

Source: D. Rogov, H. Johnson, R. Courtine, C. Clairborne, J-Bell.

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When To Eat And When to Throw Out Cheese

No matter how old a cheese is, your tastebuds should not be overpowered by the pungency of the cheese. If so, no wine can be called to accompany it. Throw out the cheese – it is probably over-ripe. For example, blue cheese that is over the hill, will taste chalky, bitter or metallic when consumed with wine. When mature soft cheeses once soft to the touch, begin to melt and give off an ammoniac smell, they too have seen better days and should be retired. Pasteurised cheese should not have green mould on it.


  • Very Hard / Grating cheeses can be wrapped in foil and can last for many months in the refridgerator.
  • Hard cheeses should be consumed within 2 weeks once opened or after they are cut from the block. Wrap them in cling wrap and make sure there is not moisture.
  • Soft Cheeses and Goat cheeses should be consumed within 2-3 weeks. Wax paper is the best wrapping medium.
  • Blue Cheese lasts up to a month in the refridgerator. Wrap in wax paper or foil
  • Fresh cheeses should be stored in a plastic tub. Many come in their own containers or with liquid that help to lengthen their ‘life’.

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