Wine and dine with Ralph's Market

Halen Doughty
Mickey Martin's personal wine cellar in his home is stocked with all the best wines

Whether you prefer reds or whites, Ralph's Market has you covered with hundreds of wines in stock at both locations in Gonzales. The Pelican Point store is one of the top wine sellers in the state with more than 920 varieties in store, while the Gonzales location has over 250 to choose from.

But picking the right wine can be tough, especially if you don't consider yourself a wine conniseur. It's easy to get stuck in a rut of the same wine because no one wants to waste money on a bottle they won't enjoy. Thankfully, Ralph's has the right staff on hand to help anyone find a wine they will love.

Not many people know more about wine than Mickey Martin, the Wine and Spirits Specialist at Ralph's Market. Martin is a certified level one sommelier, or wine steward. Sommeliers typically work in restaurants and help customers select their wine and pair it with their meal. In the retail setting, Martin can help any wine-lover find the perfect wine for any occasion.

Picking out wine can be intimidating if you aren't familiar with all the varieties that are available, so Martin gave us the ins and outs of wine and how to tell if it's the right one for you.

The first thing you'll learn about your wine is where it comes from, and you can tell simply by the name. The wine market is made up of two worlds, the old and the new. The old world consists of European wines that are named for the region in which the grapes are grown, like the Champagne region of France, for example. The new world includes America and other non-European countries like Austrailia and Argentina. Those wines are named after the grapes themselves like Zinfindel.

Another piece of information that's visible on the label is the alcohol content, which tells a lot about the body of the wine. Reds typically have more alcohol content. Cabernets and merlots are among the top, so if you like those, you'll probably like other reds with higher percentages of alcohol. Whites with high alcohol content can include chardonnay and reisling.

Light summer wines perfect for this time of year range from 8 to 12 percent alcohol. They have a lighter body and are served cold. Pink wines like rosé are hugely popular year-round, but especially during the summer.

If you're trying to pair a wine with what's for dinner, the rule of thumb is white with white and red with red. So white meat like chicken and fish pairs well with white wines, while red meats go better with a red.

A tasting is great way to learn about different kinds of wine. Spinning the wine in the glass and gently inhaling will give you an idea about the flavor. You might smell citrus and other fruit or even hints of vanilla and caramel, depending on your choice of wine.

Spinning the glass will point the aroma up into the nose. Martin said it also livens up the wine, which can go dormant as it sits. Wine is alive like yogurt and other foods, and a good spin will help to wake it up a bit.

After spinning your wine, take a close look at the glass to see the legs dripping down the side. That will give an indication of the thickness and the body, as well as the alcohol content. The slower the legs run down the glass, the higher the alcohol.

If you're not sure which wine will work for you, Ralph's Market hosts in-home wine tastings and wine dinners. Martin will bring a selection for you and your guests based on your preferences. He can bring a sampling of whites or reds, and he even offers an around the world tasting with the best wines from each country. The wine dinners inclued a five-course meal cooked right in your own home, as well as a wine paired with each course.

Visit Ralph's Market today to find your perfect wine or schedule your tasting!

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