Winter Wine School

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South Africa offers wines for every palate. From their flagship Chenin Blanc and Pinotage to crisp Colombar and internationally beloved Bordeaux-style blends, there’s a South African wine for you. Tastings.com brings you through the regions and grapes of South Africa. Discover your favorite with our handy guide.

Explore Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is South Africa's most widely planted grape. This high-acid grape variety makes a diverse range of wines in South Africa's wine country. Whether you prefer fresh and crisp, oaky, or sweet there's a Chenin Blanc for you. We recommend starting your Chenin Blanc exploration with Babylonstoren's award-winning 2017 vintage.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

Colombar(d)

Stellar Organics 2017 Rose is 90 point wine AND a Best Buy. It's made from Colombar, South Africa's name for the French grape Colombard, which is also a major grape used in Cognac production.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

Pinotage: A South African Original

Pinotage is the signature red variety of South Africa; it was developed there in 1925 as a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The wines made from Pinotage are quite ripe, with flavors of wild cherry and blueberry and have a bit of a wild streak. Our current fave is the 2015 vintage from Marula, produced in South Africa's Western Cape. Wine-drinkers will love its velvety fruit flavors with South African flair.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

South Africa Takes on Bordeaux Blends

If you're a fan of Bordeaux-style blends, you've got to try the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Braai. You'll want to get your hands on more than one bottle as this stately 93 point wine is delicious right now (try with roasts or barbecue!), but will likely get even better with cellaring.

Photo Credit: Tastings.com

Say Hello to Hybrids

Originally created as solutions to phylloxera (a catastrophic grapevine pest), hybrids are grapes that are bred from existing varietals (FYI these are not GMOs). Many come to us from either France or the minds at Cornell University and University of Minnesota, and they’re often cold-hardy and disease-resistant which means they’re coming to a wine glass near you sooner rather than later.

2021 World Whiskey

This year, BTI evaluated a myriad of whiskies from all around the globe. Here are the standouts and the first perfect score in nearly a decade.

Happy Hour Helpers

Summer sun sure does make us thirsty, which is why the Tastings.com team has whipped up a few delicious quenchers for you to sip and share.

Summer Wine

And the pairings are easy.

Rum in the Running

Fresh cane juice or molasses? Pot or column distilled? Aged a little or a lot or not at all? In case you haven’t checked into the rum category lately, there’s lots to catch up on, and we’re here to tell you that there is, in fact, a rum for everyone.

In Admiration of Agave

The sacred agave plant is at the heart of Mexico’s history, and its delicious distillate commands respect with every sip. Scroll through to learn a little more about summer’s favorite swig and find our top picks from this year’s agave spirit reviews.

Cider Insider

With over 10,000 varieties of apples, there’s a lot of room for variation in your favorite fizzy ferments. We’ll get into some fun facts on these fabulous fruits, and we’ll share some of our recent favorite pours as well!

2021 Martini Match

Whether you prefer an olive or a lemon twist as a garnish, we’ve got you covered when it comes to your martini’s most important ingredient: the gin.

35th Annual NYWC Picks

The New York Wine Classic is the largest annual event honoring the very best wines the state has to offer, and Beverage Testing Institute was proud to partner with the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to taste through the 607 entries from 96 different wineries in order to showcase these standouts from the Excelsior state.

Best in Show Cosmos 2021

The Cosmopolitan is a cocktail that never goes out of style, so it’s always important to check back in with your base spirits to make sure your pretty pink drink is shining as bright as it can. Our team of judges sipped through glass after glass and found their four fave cosmo-ready vodkas, and we’re sharing them with you!

2021 Packaging Picks

A lot goes on behind the scenes before a final beautiful bottle makes it to the shelves, and we’ve narrowed down this year’s best design submissions!

Booze Free Buzzing

Quarantinis have been the lifeline for many of us throughout the pandemic, but sometimes you want a sessionable beverage that won’t make you late for your Zoom meeting the next morning. Here you’ll find some of our favorite cocktailing options that have all of the fun and none of the hangover.

Time to Talk Arak

Love a little licorice in your liquor? This traditional Levantine beverage offers crisp, lovely flavors with a strong historic backbone and will be sure to serve your licorice longings.

2020 Best of Year Winners

After reviewing thousands of wines, beers, and spirits this year, Beverage Testing Institute is proud to present the 2020 Best of Year award winners! These products, representing the best in their categories, were evaluated blind by panels of trade buyers and category experts, generating reviews that have proven to be the most trustworthy and consistent in the industry.

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

We took the trouble of rounding up this year’s most excellent offerings. Inside our guide you’ll find the best of the best in each category we tasted, the best bangs for your hard-earned buck, and a few spendy stunners so you can treat yourself for making it through 2020.

Brandy is Dandy

Ferment any fruit, distill as you wish, and you’ve got yourself a brandy! Don’t have a still in your garage/bathtub? Scroll through these stunners to find your next favorite fruit-based friend.

Loveable Liqueurs

Whether you call it a liqueur or a cordial, you’re sure to love this selection of cocktail gems. Ranging from bright and bitter to fruity and creamy, this year’s picks are sure to shine in your next drink recipe.

2020 North American Whiskey Review

With the change of seasons comes the thirst for rich, golden drams. We tasted over 100 great grain-based offerings to determine your next whiskey picks!

Spotlight on Summer Whites

A glass of white wine is great any time of year, but pair it with some sunshine and you’ve got yourself a dream come true! We’ve rounded up some of this year’s domestic sippable stunners to make every al fresco meal a memorable one.

2020 Daiquiri Championship

There’s just enough summer left to enjoy a few more bright, citrusy cocktails, and we assembled a panel of top tier daiquiri palates to find the best rums to make the most of the waning sipping season.

Barreled Botanicals

Do you love gin and are thirsty for more? Are you a die-hard brown spirits fan that needs a push to the botanically influenced side of the spirits world? Barreled gins are the answer to the question you never knew needed asking, and these five are some of our favorites!

Informed Imbibing

In a world where every decision-making dollar counts, why not put your money where your values are? Whether bettering the environment, the community, or both, everything tastes better when ethics are part of the recipe, and these are some of our favorite conscious concoctions!

Seltzers for the Swelter

With the long-awaited arrival of sunny days comes the inevitable craving for sparkling sippers, and with so many options available, how can a person choose? Relax! We’ve done the seltzer-sifting for you, and we’ve found the best bubbles to keep on-hand.

Be Your Own Bartender

As we hunker down at home, gazing nostalgically at our coaster collections from our favorite bars (rest assured, they miss us too), we can use this quaran-time to elevate our personal refreshment repertoires. With high-quality, high-value, and high-versatility offerings, your stay-at-homebar can keep you creatively quenched until the curve is completely flattened.

Vegging Out With Bloodies

We’re three months into 2020 and winter is making brunch cocktails as necessary as ever, so to help you make the right decisions at your next encounter with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, we’ve found the finest vodkas for before-noon drinking. Much like your brunch buffet, our list has something for everyone.

2020 Mules That Rule

There’s something special about a Moscow Mule. It’s a simple enough drink--vodka, ginger beer, lime, and mint--but drinking one just feels…right. Maybe it’s the ritual of the gleaming copper cup or the fresh scent of the mint as you take your first sip. Whatever it is, it’s heaven in a glass, and a full year after our last Moscow Mule tasting, we’re back with a whole new lineup of outstanding vodka offerings to try.

Get Up to Speed with Mead

In its own category of alcoholic beverage, this combination of honey, water, and yeast is a tasty treat that’s been flying under the radar of modern imbibing—until now. Humankind’s oldest boozy beverage (dating back to 7000 BC!) is seeing a rise in popularity, and we’re here to give you everything you need to know before you grab a goblet.

War of the Whiskeys

Everyone has their own personal favorite style of whiskey, and North America has something for everyone. Whether you prefer the sweetness of Canadian whiskey, the spicy bite of American Rye, or the smooth sipping of real Kentucky Bourbon, the continent has it all. As great as having that variety is, it can make figuring out which whiskey you should pour in your drink an overwhelming task. Tastings.com has taken care of that task for you by testing dozens of whiskies to determine which ones mix best in two classic drinks: the Manhattan and the Sazerac. First up: the Manhattan.

Whisky Highballs

A test so nice we did it twice – how else can you determine the best whiskies and waters for a highball cocktail unless you test both separately? Here’s how it worked: we took one control whisky and made 19 cocktails with 19 different waters, then we took a control water and did the same thing with over two dozen different whiskies to find out the best possible ingredients for this simple, classic beverage. Be sure to check out the full list of whiskies and waters we tested as well, because while we could only name a few winners in this particular matchup, we still did the hard work of reviewing each one. Who knows, your new favorite drink could be waiting there for you to discover!



Water Break

We know you come here for honest, expert ratings of alcoholic beverages, so rating water probably seems like a waste of time, right? Absolutely not. Throughout history, water was the original mixer. No respectable Roman would drink unwatered wine, and no pirate or sailor would drink straight rum without adding water to create grog. Even when drinking whisky neat, connoisseurs often add several drops of water to open up the flavors. Whisky and water is a timeless combination, so it’s our duty to inform you which water makes the perfect highball cocktail.



These Bubbles are Poppin

It’s warming up, and when it comes to a crisp, refreshing beverage, light beer and white wine don’t always cut it. Not long ago, you’d have to get up from your lawn chair to fix yourself a gin and tonic, or the perfect margarita, but recently the advent of hard sodas and waters gives summer drinkers new options that can be grabbed straight from the cooler. And despite the name, hard sodas aren’t only for the young at heart and young of palate - this new generation of infused drinks is anything but kid stuff.

Judged: 2019s Best Martinis

With hundreds of big name and artisan gins out there, it’s hard to choose the right base for a show-stopping martini. Luckily, Tastings.com has assembled an all star team from the finest cocktail bars in the country to guide you. Our expert judges rate the year’s best botanicals so you can mix the perfect martini for any occasion. The recipe is simple but the flavors are complex: 2.25 ounces of gin and .75 ounces of vermouth - sorry Mr. Bond, no vodka here.



Manhattans Mastered

Ever wanted to know the best whiskey to use in a Manhattan? Our World Cocktail Championships pit top brands against each other to determine which make the best cocktails. Here we lay out the whiskies that make the most delicious Manhattans and the vermouths that will make your cocktail-loving heart stir.

Autumn Sprits in Motion

With kaleidoscopic fall foliage in full display, it’s time to mix up these 4 cocktails that will leaf a smile on your face.

No Statement, No Problem

The whole world is catching on to Scotch whisky’s amazing quality and delicious taste. The result is a depletion of mature stock at many distilleries. Since age-stated whisky cannot legally contain any whisky younger than the age listed on the label, a risk is presented to the sustainability of age-stated whisky. One of the Scotch industry’s solutions has been to rely more heavily on no age statement (NAS) whiskies. These are marriages of many different whiskies, from very young to very old, that can have a profoundly delightful impact on your taste buds. Here we show you why you should eschew ageism and put stock in flavor over age when enjoying Scotch whisky.

Cider Stereotypes Smashed

This month we tasted piles of ciders with layers of complexity. Entries from both home and abroad did not disappoint and familiar names once again dazzled our taste buds. The showing was far from the expected and reinvigorated our love of cider. Check out the tried and tru and and the eye-openers showing that traditional dry cider is for everyone.

Soul-Stirring Stouts

Roasty and toasty, stouts and porters are no longer just the workingman’s beverage— they run the gamut from historic and dry to sweet and flavored, and from session brews to barrel-aged warmers. Featured here are some of the best we have tasted for the winter months, ready for your exploration.

Our 2018 Cognac Guide

We share all the tools you need to order, discuss, sip, and savor France’s most famous brandy.

Giftable Liqueurs

Liqueurs are the perfect, versatile boozy gift. Neat or on the rocks? Sure. Mixed in classic cocktails? Even better! A simple and festive spritz? They’re the perfect party tipple. Tastings.com shares our candied, herbal, bittter-sweet and creamy liqueur picks for every type of holiday imbiber.

Napa: OPEN for Business

While most everyone in Napa and Sonoma has been affected by the recent wildfires in some way or another, damage isn’t widespread. The 2017 crop will make wine as spectacular as ever, and the best part? Tasting rooms are open and the wine is flowing! In fact, the biggest threat to Napa and Sonoma’s wine industry is the misperception that the fires devastated the region. The reality is that the Napa and Sonoma are thriving and their tasting rooms are open! Tastings.com shares three award-winning Napa wines to buy now.

Behind The Oak

Oak is no joke! Barrel aging can be used on just about any alcoholic beverage you can think of. Ever since oak replaced heavy, fragile clay amphorae as transportation vessels for wine around the age of the Roman Empire, its magnificent effects on beverages has been carefully studied and celebrated. Soak up the oak knowledge with Tastings.com.

Fall for Fest Beer

Just like your autumn wardrobe autumn beer is best when laden with toasty layers… of delicious roasted malt flavor. Tastings.com delivers the run-down on the best beers to drink this fall and details 4 classic fall beer styles.

Loveable Wines of Chile

Chilean wines are HOT! Our recent review of Chilean wines revealed big flavor and huge value in these smoky, intriguing wines. Immerse yourself in Chilean wine experiences with Tastings.com.

Part French, All-American

The coolest underdogs of wine are all-American. Hybrid wines are popping up in every corner of the USA. These are wines made from grape varieties that are a result of cross-breeding hearty indigenous American grapes with the familiar European varieties. As a result of cross-breeding these grapes are extra-resistant to disease and extra-tasty. Expect explosive fruit flavors with a unique floral and rustic aroma. Let Tastings.com introduce you to juicy hybrid wines that will leave you feeling foxy.



Sake Crash Course

Sharpen up your sake skills with the help of Tastings.com. We’ll teach you how to decode sake lingo, choose the sake that’s right for you, and even give you serving tips. Use Tastings.com to discover the world of Japanese Sake.

Trending: Agave Spirits

This month we tasted through the best agave sprits and chatted with leading producers to bring you the most up-to-date details on what’s trending in tequila and mezcal. Use our tips to find your new favorite spirit of Mexico!

Bitters On The Edge

We’ve outlined six unique ways to use the concentrated flavors of bitters in the kitchen and the bar- steering away from the typical cocktail flavoring application. From hair-of-the-dogs to gourmet cooking, we show you how to incorporate bitters into your everyday routines.

Summer Brew Camp

Evade the heat with refreshing summer wheats. We demystify wheat beer styles from trendy sour Berliners to classic Hefeweizens. Learn the history, brewing methods, and flavor profiles of the 5 styles you need to know.



Tales of the Cocktail

Look back on the good times had at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail and mark your calendar for this year’s event in New Orleans this July.

2017 Midwest Rum Fest

On Saturday April 8th, some of the biggest players in the Rum industry gathered to show off their latest and greatest sugarcane distillates at Chicago’s annual Midwest Rumfest. Micro and Boutique rums were the stars of the show and Tastings.com rated the best of them for you!



Delicious Daiquiris

Spend a day tasting daiquiris? It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! Check out what our judges picked as the 2017 World Cocktail Championships Best Daiquiris!

Savvy Savory Cocktails

Impress your guests! Learn the Art and Science of Creating and Pairing Savory Cocktails.

Elevate Dinner Tonight

Juicy and lush fruit flavors make Argentine wines the perfect choice for carnivorous pairings that tango on your palate.



A Taste of Japan

As a part of our 2016 trade initiative with Japan, our sales and marketing specialist Jaclyn Beazley toured around Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka in March. The month, which is typically wet and rainy, had a few sunny days she took advantage of discover all she could about Japanese Sake, Whiskey and even Wine!

Sour Beer is Hot

Is there anything more refreshing than a cold lemonade on a sizzling summer day? You bet there is: a chilled sour beer is the grown up version of lemonade. Mouth watering tartness, food-friendliness, and naturally low ABV that makes it easy to have more than one. We’ve been tasting some of the best sour beers out there, and now we want to share some of our favorites with you, just in time for the dog days of summer.

3 Expert Cocktail Recipes

See how the nation’s top bartenders use mixers and bitters from our 23rd International Review of Spirits to craft delicious cocktails. Featuring: Owl’s Brew Wicked Green Tea, Era Bitters, and Yogi’s Bloody Mary Mix.

Bacardi Tour

The Bacardi–More than a Tour, An Experience

Tastings lifestyle correspondent Camilla Llano visited the Bacardi ’Cathedral of Rum’ in Puerto Rico and liked what she found.

Mount Gay Rum

You wouldn’t know it, but the tiny island of Barbados is a dreamer’s paradise. Because its warmth, charm, and sophisticated people help make everyone’s dream come true. Tucked away on the northern tip in St. Lucy Parish, Mount Gay Rum has granted many a wish to everyone connected with it.

BroVo Spirits

Meet craft spirits maker, Mhairi Voelsgen. Her broVo spirits company in Seattle is revered by bartenders for its exceptional liqueur, vermouth and amaro. Catapulting itself into Michelin-rated restaurant cocktails, Mhairi’s brand excels with its refined recipe, batch after batch. Take it from the master herself and the lessons she gathered over the years from bartenders.

7 Steps To A Crab Boil

Have you ever wanted to treat your friends to a crab boil but it seems too complicated? We can show you how to create a crab boil in 7 easy steps! We can show you how to please your eyes and your stomach at the same time… rain or shine.

Do Reviews Matter?

Reviews at Tastings take a critical approach and mandatorily shut down any biases the judges have towards a product because of the controlled environment of the tasting room and blind samples.

The Basics of Brewing

Beer is an agricultural product beginning on a farm and ending in a glass. At its simplest, beer is a recipe of water, malt, hops and yeast. Brewing may be a simple process, but can be made very complicated with the application of scientific techniques to perfectly control the process.

From Garden to Glass

Tastings.com recently sat down with award-winning Chicago mixologist and spirited entrepreneur Adam Seger to talk about the ‘Garden to Glass’ movement sweeping the world of spirits and cocktails. As a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP), Adam offered an inside look at how the movement is zeroing in on freshness and seasonality and convincing consumers to drink like they eat.