Wine Is Your Friend: A Crash Course on 10 Types of Wine

Photo by Elle Hughes on Unsplash

Editor's Note:

Mamrie Lillian Hart is a comedian, actress, writer and performer. She is from middle-of-nowhere North Carolina, and now lives in Los Angeles with her Chihuahua, Beanz. I’ve Got This Round is her second book.

Mamrie Hart’s latest book, I’ve Got This Round, focuses on strong female friendships, new adventures, and the endless journey through adulting. In the excerpt below, Mamrie gives readers an easy-to-follow crash course on what wines to drink and when to drink them – an essential lesson for adults everywhere.

I remember when I first was introduced to my dear friend, Wine. I’ll be honest: she didn’t give me the best first impression. I was ten years old and attending communion at my Grand’s Episcopalian church in Panama City. Back in Boonville, where the county was still dry, communion didn’t have real wine and wafers; it was Welch’s and Hawaiian potato bread. But not at Grand’s church. I took a sip from the chalice thinking I was about to have a cold, crisp grape juice crushed by Jesus’s feet himself, and nearly spat it back in the minister’s face. It was warm! And in my kid brain, I thought it must have been gone bad. A handful of years later, and I would be back to the bottle, drinking pink Boone’s Farm at a party. I thought I had gone bad  … ass.

Luckily, as an adult, I realize that calling Boone’s Farm wine is like calling Olive Garden authentic Italian[1]. I’m into the real stuff now. The cabs and merlots and pinots and Syrahs. Remember that song from the 90’s, Mambo #5, where Lou Bega lists all the girls he loves? The Monica’s. The Erica’s. The Rita’s. Just change all those ladies’ names to types of wine and that is my anthem.

A lot of people get intimidated by wine because there are so many different options. I get it. Sometimes when I’m supposed to pick out where to go for dinner, I’ll have 30 tabs opened on my phone comparing menus until I eventually say fuck it and eat a bag of baby carrots. But there’s no reason to be intimidated by wine. Wine is your friend! And just like how you would want to hang out with certain friends in certain circumstances, I am going to give you a crash course on what wines to drink when.

Let’s start with reds, because the phrase ‘let’s start with whites’ just sounds inherently racist.

CABERNET: This is your ride-or-die bitch. Super dependable. Cabs are often full-bodied and can have fruity and peppery notes. She’s easy to get along with but can occasionally surprise you with a lil’ kick, depending on the day. Go split a rack of ribs with this one cause you’re going to need a belly base coat for a long night. Cabs are so easy to drink with, you’ll definitely be calling a cab home.

MERLOT:Merlot gets a lot of shit for being a basic bitch. But ‘basic’ is just another term for ‘popular,’ and speaking as my high school self, there ain’t nothing wrong with being popular! We are not living in in the movie ‘Cruel Intentions.’ Sometimes people are popular because they are just nice and get along with everyone. Same with Merlot.

PINOT NOIR: This is your skinny bitch friend. Not a ton of depth with this one. It’s like when you’re going to hang with a friend that you know isn’t going to have a convo with you about religion or politics. While hanging out with them still a can be fun, this is more of ‘let’s get lunch,’ friendship, not necessarily a dinner date. Especially ‘cause you know she’s not going to want to share any fatty appetizers.

SHIRAZ: Have you seen the movie ‘Rough Night?’ Shiraz is basically Kate McKinnon’s character. This is a spicy, earthy-as-hell wine that packs a punch. If it had a human job, it would be a doula. Like super interesting to talk to for a while, but you don’t want to be cornered by for too long at a party. It’s overwhelming.

CHIANTI/SANGIOVESE:These bitches are Italian and bold as fuck. I’m talking, the type that won’t sit with her back facing the door in case there’s a hit on her. Best paired with Italian food, obvs, her flavors are loud and will usually wake me up with a solid headache the next morning.

And now let’s talk about some whites, shall we? These are the girls who are usually a touch lighter and sweeter. The types of gals that you can cozy up to for a little day time hair of the dog after a long night with your red friends.

CHARDONNAY:Ummm, who invited their aunt to this party? I kid! Chardonnay is delicious, but it often has an oaky, buttery vibe. It’s decadent. It’s eccentric. Just like grabbing drinks with an older family member, you’ve really got to be in the mood for it, and even when you are enjoying it, you probably want to limit it to a glass or two.

SAUVIGNON BLANC: With its tendency to be fruity and floral, consider this the flower crown of whites. A Coachella girl in a glass. While it’s sweet and fun and great to hang with on a hot day, there isn’t a lot of depth to Sauv Blancs. They kind of all blend in together and personally, hanging out with them too much can give me a terrible headache.

PINOT GRIGIO: You honestly cannot go wrong with pinot grigio. She’s the friend that you can bring to any party, any social circle and she’s going to get along with anyone. Not because she’s particularly interesting, but because she’s completely inoffensive. She’s the girl that your high school boyfriend ends up marrying, and when you meet her for the first time, she’s fine, very pleasant, but nothing really sticks out. . . . which makes sense because he was a dud and him dumping you before college was the equivalent of Neo dodging the bullet in the Matrix. (A gif that I use every time my friend is being rejected by a dude, by the way.)

WHITE ZINFADEL: I’m not mad at White Zin, but do I want to drink it? Hell no. The hue alone makes me immediately hungover. But I don’t think it should get the bad rap that it does. Not any more than . . .

ROSÉ: I’m gonna get real here and a lot of you might not agree with me. Rosé is basically white zinfandel with a classier name and a lot more adorable tee-shirts made in honor of it. There’s so many ‘Rosé all Day’ tote bags but no ‘Zin for the Win’ when I can’t tell the damn difference between the two. Rosé is like that friend who has always been a little trashy and self-deprecating, but now she has a British boyfriend so she’s somehow ‘cultured.’ Like how Lindsay Lohan all the sudden has a weird European accent now, when you know that bitch is from New Jersey.

That said, hand me a glass of sparkling rosé and I will immediately act like I’m on a yacht in Monte Carlo and forbid anyone to make eye contact with me.

And just like friendships, may I suggest trying all of these on for size? What you got along with in your twenties might not be your ideal pairing in your thirties. People evolve and so do their tastes and, holy hell, if that is not a perfect segway into the next chapter. . . . One that you might want to pour a glass of your favorite friend to have on stand by, I don’t know what is …

[1] Totes kidding, Olive Garden exec whose reading this. I love your establishment and would gladly take a lifetime supply of free breadsticks.