Red, red wine with The Point and Checkers

With the cooler Autumn weather fast approaching, there really is nothing better than sitting by a warm fire and enjoying a glass of red wine.


If you are a novice, words like Merlot and Shiraz might leave you mistaking Cabernet for Cabaret but luckily, our friends at Checkers Liquors are here to help!


With their assistance, we have put together a cheat sheet to some of the more common descriptors (aka ‘wine lingo’):


Sommelier: A French term for Wine Steward, who lives, breathes, sleeps and of course drinks wine. Remember, these days to call yourself a sommelier, you must be ‘certified’.



Acidity- the crispness or refreshing taste at the end of wine, more common in white wines than red wines.
Finish: This can also be referred to as the aftertaste a wine leaves in your mouth.
Palate: It’s simple, it describes the flavours and complexities of a wine on your tongue and within your mouth.


Tannic:  A slight mouth-drying effect.
Legs: When a wine is swirled, it leaves behind drops that slide down the side of a wine glass.
Nose: The smell of the wine in the glass.
Pip: It’s simply the grape seeds.
Punt: Have you ever noticed the indentation in the bottom of your wine bottle? This is called a punt!
Vintage: The year in which the grapes were harvested, that made the wine.


For those of you who have read the Checkers wine blog, you will that know Cortana is a wine guru of note. Here are some of his easy definitions of our favourite Reds and a few tips when pouring!


Cabernet Sauvignon

As a late-ripening grape, we have the ideal location, as it particularly prefers warmer climates. Traditional, firm, assertive styles are made here, but the trend is towards more upfront wines driven by ripe, juicy fruit with cedar, tobacco and spicy oak complexity. The best wines from this variety display exceptionally deep colour, the characteristic aroma of blackcurrants (cassis) and have an almost unequalled capacity to age in the bottle.


It’s often considered a tannic wine, which means it imparts those slight mouth-drying effects when drinking. This is due to the fact that it is a very small grape with a large amount of skin compared to flesh ratio as well as large pip, both of which contribute to natural grape tannins. Apart from the Bordeaux-style blends mentioned above, Cabernet Sauvignon is also often blended with Shiraz or Pinotage in order to soften these harsh or chalky tannins.



Red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish are the general characteristics of a Merlot wine. But there’s more to Merlot than being smooth. When thinking of other descriptions most commonly used to describe a Merlot, Christmas cake comes to mind – yum!! A range of fresh flavours such as plums, cherries, blueberries and blackberries mixed with cocoa and black pepper tones often dominate this type of red wine.


Merlot is popular as a companion to the very rowdy Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. In a Bordeaux-style red blend where the Cabernet’s, which give the backbone, are softened or mellowed a little, the Merlot rounds off the wine, enjoying more structure and definition.



Pinotage can be presented in a dramatic range of styles, ranging from a fairly light-bodied, red berry-driven wine all the way to a full-bodied wine with balance, elegance, fully developed fruit flavours and an enduring finish. In general, Pinotage tends to take on a rustic profile and often shows earth-driven notes, followed by dark fruit, tobacco, chocolate or even Smokey bacon kips.


The best will age into elegance without losing their muscularity. Most recently there has been a new development in the heavier mocha, chocolate-style Pinotage which has woven its magical spell and brought a range of new consumers into the wine-drinking market.


Shiraz (Syrah)


There is a long-term debate about the differences, or even similarities, between Shiraz and Syrah. So what are they? Nothing. They are actually the same variety. Whilst there’s no legalese or official distinction behind which of these descriptors the wine farms may use, the basis is this: Old-World style, slightly more austere, white pepper, smoky and mineral note wines with more tannin and acid on the finish would be referred to as Syrah.


Whereas New-World style, warmer climate, bold, fruit-forward, black and red berry and cloves spices would be called Shiraz. However, it quite often boils down to marketing. Some estates believe consumers are more familiar with the word Shiraz and will thus call their wines such, whilst others think Syrah sounds more exotic and enticing and will label theirs such, not necessarily taking the style of the wine into account.


4 tips for pouring a good impression

1.    White wine before red wine
2.   Light wine before heavy wine
3.   Dry wine before sweet wine
4.   Simple wine before complex, richly flavoured wine
Each of these principles operates independently. And the rules are flexible, provided you know your wines. For example, a very light red wine paired with duck salad works perfectly before a rich, full-bodied white with herbed chicken.


If the food you’re serving calls for white wine, there’s really no reason that both wines can’t be white: a simpler, lighter white followed by a richer, fuller-bodied white. Likewise, both wines can be red, or you can serve a dry rosé followed by a red.

When wine is made so simple, share it! Why not start a monthly “wine night” with your friends and show them what you have learnt?


Winter is such a great time to explore Checkers extensive wine variety and by the time summer comes around, there will be even more amazing white wines to continue your new wine nights with.


Happy and responsible pairing!

The Point Team x


Thanks to Checkers we don’t only have the perfect place to shop for wine, we have an easy to follow wine pairing guide too!


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