Wine has long held a huge reputation within the alcohol world. Seen as the “classy” alternative to beers and spirits, wine comes with its own niches and clubs all across the world. However, there is more to wine than the quick hit it delivers – from wine tasting clubs to the countless varieties of wine out there, knowing your stuff is important. There is so much to learn in the wine world that it could take you years to piece it all together. Click here to learn the basics about wine. Otherwise, browse though this section and learn about different types of wine and brands.


Orin Swift Abstract is a relatively new California red wine gem from Dave Phinney, a gifted and fast-rising winemaker.  Dave is the owner of Orin Swift Cellars, and has come a long way since beginning his career with 2 tons of purchased Zinfandel grapes just a year out of college in 1998! His wine-making success includes some phenomenal wines such as Papillon and The Prisoner, and he launched the Abstract label with the 2009 vintage. Abstract came out of Dave’s love of Grenache and a desire to make a blend using that varietal as the focal point. The wine has an inky concentration rounded out with Petite Sirah and Syrah. 

Groth Cabernet Sauvignon

Groth Vineyards was founded in Napa Valley in 1982 with the goal of making great cabernet sauvignon. It didn’t take long before the winery achieved that goal and became very popular:  Groth’s 1985 Reserve Cabernet was the first California wine to get 100 points from Robert Parker, an influential wine critic.  The popularity of their reserve cab was so high that for next several years, people lined up to buy their new vintage. 

The Prisoner

The Prisoner was created by Orin Swift Cellars founder Dave Phinney, who grew it from 400 cases to 85,000 in just 10 vintages. In 2010, he sold it, along with Saldo Zinfandel, to Huneeus Vintners, which owns Quintessa in Napa and Neyen in Chile, among other brands. Phinney stayed on as winemaker during a transition phase, but starting with the 2013 vintage, Jen Beloz is in charge of The Prisoner, Saldo and a new lineup of wines, including Blindfold, Cuttings (a Cabernet-based blend) and Thorn (a Merlot-based blend). 

Prosecco Vs. Champagne

Both Porsecco and Champagne are well known, sparkling wines that are named in regard to the geographical areas in which they are made. The regulators of the wines get quite offended and testy if anyone outside of the area attempts to use these names in the manufacture of a similar wine. That, however is where these similarities end abruptly.

Champagne is totally French, and can only come from the Champagne region, located in France. Prosecco is totally Italian, and can only be made in the region of Veneto, in the hills of Treviso, in northeastern Italy.

There are only three grapes that can be used to make Champagne in any combination: Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. The Italian grape Glera is the only grape used to make Prosecco.


In the Veneto region of Italy, in the boot near the northeast, you will find the renowned sparkling wine produced in Prosecco, Italy. The fine white grape from which the wine is made is also named after its namesake city of Prosecco. This wine, economical and versatile, is an amazing value. The principal towns producing Prosecco are Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, as you will see on the label of the bottles.

If you throw down $10, you will be able to find a Prosecco that possesses tempting aromatics, subtle fruit with an abundance of bubbles (spumante) or just light bubbles (frizzante). Usually, this wine is on the dry to off-dry end of the spectrum in taste.

Petite Sirah Wine

Petite Sirah has been leaping to the best wine lists of connoisseurs and everyday enthusiasts. From its bold origination in the Rhone Valley of France, California (particularly in the Paso Robles region) has been making a strong showing with the most recent productions. The consumption of Petite Sirah has also been showing strong growth in Israel, Australia, South Africa and across much of South America. The Petite Sirah wine is produced from a traditional red wine grape that got its name because of the its relative size. It is smaller than many of the other red wine grapes, and so it became known as petite. This has nothing to do with how the wine tastes on the palate. Actually, the grape has a thick skin and a dark red color, and is loaded with strong tannins. This give the wine a full bodied taste, and it has some bold and big jammy flavor. Often there will be strong overtones of black pepper, spice, and an overall dark fruit flavor. Even though the names are similar, Petite Sirah is not the same as the grape which produces Syrah (also known as Shiraz) wines. The grapes may be a cross-pollination of another regional Rhone grape known as Durif (sometimes Peloursin). DNA testing is still not conclusive about this.