WineStyles, in Lakewood Ranch, takes a customer-friendly approach to wine, displaying bottles by style, also known as flavor.
Every day is a tasting day, and customers are invited to taste 20 different open wines at the wine bar to ensure a great purchase.
WineStyles owner Carmen T. Spagnola grew up drinking wine in an Italian family. He has always had an interest in home wine making, is involved in the American Wine Society and taught wine-appreciation classes at community colleges in Connecticut, before moving to Lakewood Ranch three years ago. Because the Southern climate doesn’t lend itself to growing wine grapes, Spagnola decided to switch to selling wine.
Here are his recommendations for the best bottle of wine within each of the three white-wine- and three red-wine categories the store features, as well as the flavor notes for each category.
A refreshing, clean, acidic white wine with typical aromas/flavors of lemon, lime, grapefruit, apple and/or pear.
Bell Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99)
"(This is) my No. 1 recommendation in the store. This wine goes great with salads, white fish and lighter prepared shellfish (not creamy or buttery) and some Oriental, Thai and Japanese meals. This category of wine will work before dinner, without food, too."
A soft, creamy white wine in an easy-to-drink style with typical aromas/flavors of honey, vanilla, melon and a little toast for oak-treated wines.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($16.99)
"This Riesling is great on its own, although it’s a more food-pairing wine than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It goes well with Asian dishes, chicken or fish prepared a little heavier."
An oaky, buttery, lavish-style white wine with aromas/flavors of vanilla, toast, caramel, tropical fruit, peaches and baking spices.
Verget Bourgogne ‘Terroirs de Côte d’Or’ ($19.99)
"This is a great white burgundy and drinks like a $30-plus bottle of wine. It goes great with oilier fish, pork and turkey — it’s perfect for Thanksgiving day, great with the buttery turkey."
A jammy, easy-to-drink style of red wine with aromas/flavors of raspberry, strawberry, vanilla and blueberry.
"This Spanish wine is a perfect example of a beautiful, full-bodied red wine that gives you fresh fruit in the mouth. It’s also 100% Garnacha, which is a widely planted grape in all of Europe. It is labeled ‘old vine’ because the vines that produce the grapes are between 80 and 120 years old. Vines that old produce the grapes at a lower rate, but better quality."
A round, velvety, sometimes subtle red wine with aromas/flavors of cherry, berries, herbs and earth.
"This Spanish wine is the No. 1 selling wine since we’ve opened — both by glass and by the bottle. It’s a tremendous value. It’s wonderful with pasta, ribs, meat — it’s smooth and mellow, so it will match with any type of meat."
An intense, complex, full-bodied red wine with aromas/flavors of chocolate, coffee, black pepper, licorice, dark berries, cherries, plums and dried fruit.
Plungerhead Zinfandel ($19.99)
"This is a step up from the regular Plungerhead. It’s from old vines and also from Dry Creek Valley, which is in northwest Sonoma County, so all the fruit comes from Dry Creek Valley. It’s a full-bodied wonderful example of a great California Zinfandel. It’s great for pairing with pasta dishes with some heat, barbeque with a little spice and all red meats."
Carmen T. Spagnola explains the "20-minute rule" when serving wine. Make sure to serve wines at the proper temperature, which is 62 to 64 degrees for reds and 42 to 44 degrees for whites. If you’re going to have a dinner party, put the white wines in the refrigerator the day before and then pull them out 20 minutes before you plan to pour them. On the other hand, place red wines in the refrigerator 20 minutes before pouring.
"We tend to drink whites too cold and reds too warm," Spagnola says. "When it’s too cold, you won’t pick up the flaws or the great qualities, especially in the nose. When reds are too warm, it’s going to taste hot in your mouth because of the alcohol."
Spagnola advises not to be intimidated by any wine and to drink what you like.
"Be open to tasting, because the more you try, the more you’ll learn," he says.
if you go
Address: 8225 Nature’s Way, Unit 111, Lakewood Ranch.
Hours: Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free wine tasting 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays.