What’s in a Grape? Tempranillo

Tempranillo (pronounced temp-rah-nee-oh) is a red wine grape most commonly grown in Spain. You’ve probably heard of Rioja, where some of the best examples of Tempranillo have made the Spanish wine region famous. This is one of our favourite grape varieties  (who are we kidding? So is every other variety!), and we are never one to miss an opportunity to share some information about our favourite things!

Here’s what you’ll find in this article:

What is Tempranillo?
Where is Tempranillo Grown?
What does Tempranillo Taste Like?
What to Pair with Tempranillo?
How is Rioja Tempranillo Classified?
How to Choose a Good Tempranillo

Tempranillo on the vine

What is Tempranillo?

Tempranillo is the primary grape used in the popular red wines (also referred to as “tinto”) of the Rioja region of Spain. Rioja wines tend to be blends that contain Tempranillo and various other grapes (Mazuelo, Garnacha and Graciano), which is why you may not be as familiar with the name Tempranillo. The more commonly recognized grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz are included in blends too, but are often distributed as stand-alone varieties in wines, unlike Tempranillo.

Did you know?

Another reason you might be less familiar with Tempranillo (despite it being the main grape used in the extremely popular Rioja wine) is due to the labelling conventions typically used in the Old World. Wines in the old world aren’t labelled using the grape varieties within, but by the region. This explains why you’ve probably heard about Rioja, and not Tempranillo!

Tempranillo in Rioja

Where is Tempranillo Grown?

Tempranillo is grown in Spain’s Rioja region, of course! But that’s not the only place. Tempranillo actually covers over 230,670 hectares of land worldwide (that’s just a couple hundred square kilometres smaller than the total area in the country of Luxembourg), with 20 percent of that being outside of Spain.

Did you know? 

It was recently announced that Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape variety in Spain, with 202,917 hectares under vine. That’s 21 percent of Spain’s vineyard area!

Why is Tempranillo so Broadly Grown in Spain?

The Tempranillo grape is a versatile one, with characteristics that allow it to grow in a variety of different sub-climates and terroirs. It flourishes in the higher elevations of the Rioja regions, along the sandy Duero River valley, and even in lovely fertile soils like those in Navarra. This versatility is partly due to the grape’s early ripening schedule – it ripens earlier than the other Spanish red grape varieties.

Did you know?

Tempranillo is a diminutive for “temprano,” which translates as “early.”

vineyards in Navarra

Growing Tempranillo in Northern Spain

  • La Rioja Alta, Alavesa and Baja
    Probably the most well-known of the Spanish regions, here Tempranillo is grown at high elevations and aged in oak barrels. With a variety of styles and classifications, there is a wine for every palate.
  • Navarra
    Rioja’s neighbour to the North, characterized by cooler weather and fertile soils, brings out the red fruit flavours of Tempranillo. 

Did you know?
Romans brought vines to Navarra thousands of years ago!

  • Toro and Zamora
    Tempranillo’s versatility allows these grapes to grow in rocky, mineral-deficient soils in these regions. Wine made from grapes grown here is incredibly rich with a characteristic spiciness. If you are looking for a Tempranillo from Toro, it will be called Tinta de Toro, rather than Tempranillo.
  • Ribera del Duero
    The soil along the Duero River is mostly sand and clay, and vines grown here experience broad diurnal shifts (temperature fluctuations from day to night). Here, Tempranillo is called ‘Tinto Fino’ and is known for its bright acidity brought on by the cooler nights.

Growing Tempranillo in Central Spain

  • La Mancha
    Spreading from Madrid and throughout the centre of Spain, this region is hot hot hot. Tempranillo doesn’t develop too high of an alcohol count, which is sometimes the case with wines in hot weather, allowing for deep fruit flavours and another delicious rendition of this versatile grape. 

Growing Tempranillo in Portugal

Tempranillo is also the most-planted grape in Portugal. It’s one of the main grapes used in the production of Port wine (blended with Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca).

In the Dão and Douro regions of Portugal, Tempranillo is called Tinta Roriz. Here, the grape showcases a lot of berry fruit and spicy flavours, and is often blended with native grapes.

In the southern Portuguese region Alentejo, Tempranillo is better known as Aragonês.

Growing Tempranillo in the New World

Tempranillo is increasingly planted in New World countries as well. It has shown great results on the Californian west coast, Northern Mexico and even in places like Texas. It has also shown up in regions where you wouldn’t expect the grape at all. WineCollective features a rare Tempranillo from B.C., as part of Inniskillin’s Discovery Series!

What Does Tempranillo Taste Like?

Tempranillo is often part of a red wine blend, but the grape itself is known for its complex flavour profile. Tempranillo wines exhibit notes ranging from red fruit, like cherry and plum, to savoury and earthy, like leather and tobacco, to those associated with oak aging, like vanilla, caramel and dill pickles. If you enjoy Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll love yourself some Tempranillo!

A glass of Tempranillo with finger food

What to Pair with Tempranillo?

Wines made from Tempranillo are food-friendly due to their complex and savoury flavour profile. The wine pairs well with Spanish dishes, especially those with tomato-based sauces. But you don’t have to stick with just Spanish foods – Tempranillo really will go with many foods. Try with late-night favourites like pizza or tacos or something more sophisticated like charcuterie. 

How is Rioja Tempranillo Classified?

We get it, you’re intrigued by the Tempranillo that comes out of Rioja. We are too! The Rioja DO (Denominación de Origen) has a unique classification system that is based on aging time rather than vineyard location. These are the three classifications that you will see on Rioja wine labels, and what they mean:

  • Rioja Crianza wines have spent at least two years aging, six months of which must be spent in a barrel (the rest can be spent in a bottle), before they enter the market.
  • Rioja Reserva classified wines have spent at least one year in a barrel, and at least 3 years aging in total, before they can be released for sale.
  • Rioja Gran Reserva wines are aged for even longer before they are put out on the shelves! They require at least 18 months of aging in a barrel, with a total minimum aging time of five years. Rioja Gran Reserva wines are some of the most age-worthy wines, and can continue to age for decades to come. 

If you come across a Rioja wine labelled ‘Vino Joven’, that means that it hasn’t been aged in oak at all. These wines are much younger, brighter and acidic and are meant to be enjoyed immediately, without cellaring.

How to Choose a Good Tempranillo

Walking up and down the aisles at your local liquor store can be overwhelming. Let us help! Sign up for a monthly subscription box from WineCollective and you’ll receive a curated selection of amazing wines from around the world. We often feature Tempranillo from Rioja, and from other regions too! Members even get 15-50% off the retail price of bottles in the store

Want to try a Crianza (the class of Rioja that is aged for at least six months in oak, and two years total)? Try this Armentia y Madrazo Crianza for only $18.49. 

Want to try something a little ‘fancier’ – maybe one that has been aged since 2012? We’d recommend this Armentia y Madrazo Gran Reserva, which members can order for $31.49 (psst that’s a sweet deal – retail price is $37.99).

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What’s In A Grape? Primitivo

Primitivo (pronounced pree-muh-tee-vow) is a red wine grape most commonly grown in Puglia, the heel of the boot-shaped part of Italy. If you love Californian Zinfandel, then this is the grape for you! Why? Because Primitivo is actually the exact same grape as Zinfandel, the only difference being where the grape is grown. Let’s take a closer look at this unique, full-bodied grape (it’s one of our favourites).

Here’s what you’ll find in this article:

What is Primitivo?
Is Primitivo the Same as Zinfandel?
What Does Primitivo Taste Like?
Where is Primitivo Grown?
Three Styles of Primitivo from Puglia
What to Pair with Primitivo?
How to Choose a Good Primitivo

What is Primitivo?

Primitivo is a variety of Italian red wine grape that produces full-bodied, fruit-forward wines with tannins that will make your mouth pucker. Contrary to what it suggests, the name Primitivo doesn’t actually translate to “primitive,” but means “early ripening” or “early one” – because the grapes tend to ripen earlier than most other varieties grown in Italy.

The berries ripen unevenly, so the bunches must be left on the vine for the grapes to fully ripen. This results in high sugar in the grapes and ultimately, a relatively high alcohol content in the wine.

Did you know?

Tempranillo also means “early ripening,” but in Spanish.

Is Primitivo the Same as Zinfandel?

Yes, Primitivo is the same grape as Zinfandel. Primitivo is the name for the grape when it is grown in Italy, and Zinfandel is the name for the same grape when it is grown in California. Interestingly, the grape didn’t originate in Italy or California, but in Croatia! 

The Primitivo grape was brought from Croatia to Italy in the 18th century, where it found its new home in Puglia. In the 19th century, the grape made another voyage, this time to America, where it was rebranded as “Zinfandel.” In California, Primitivo grapes are also used to make “White Zinfandel” – a popular sweet rosé.

Did you know?

Primitivo (aka. Zinfandel) has other names too! In Croatia, it is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski and as Tribidrag. And in Montenegro, it’s called kratošija. Try saying “Crljenak Kaštelanski” (pronounced tsurl-ye-nak kas-tel-yanskee) three times fast!

What Does Primitivo Taste Like?

Primitivo wines tend to be high in alcohol content and contain ripe, sweet tannins! It is a big, bold grape known for flavours ranging from jammy and ripe dark berry flavours, like blueberry and blackberry, to sweet and spicy, like chocolate and cinnamon, to savoury and earthy, like leather and pipe tobacco. If you enjoy Zinfandel or Merlot, you’ll love to taste a Primitivo from Italy!

Where is Primitivo Grown?

Primitivo is grown in the Puglia region of Italy, of course! But that’s not the only place. Primitivo actually covers about 46,000 acres of land worldwide (that’s about the size of Aruba – can you tell we are dreaming of a vacation?), with the majority of that area (93 percent) of that being in the form of Zinfandel in California. There are approximately 2,500 acres of Primitivo in Italy, and 250 acres of Crljenak Kaštelanski in Croatia (100 acres is about the size of Vatican City, for comparison).

Did you know?

Primitivo is the third-most planted grape in Puglia, behind Sangiovese and Negroamaro.

Growing Primitivo in Italy


Puglia rests on a plateau, unlike the rest of Italy, which is primarily mountainous. The land is composed of plains and low hills. Acidity is maintained by cooling winds that blow across the plains between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, located on either side of the “boot heel” that is Puglia. The land is characterized by cavernous eroded limestone and underground rivers. The thin layer of topsoil is rich in minerals, and the vine roots extend down into the eroded limestone. These minerals give the wine lots of structure and mouth-watering tannins.

Growing Primitivo (Zinfandel) in the USA

Napa Valley Floor

Historic vineyards which have survived over 100 years (even through Prohibition) produce full-bodied aromatic wines characterized by dark fruit flavours and black pepper. These wines are often quite complex due to their deep root systems pulling minerals from the rock formations below. Zinfandel from Napa Valley tends to be higher in acidity and tannins, which means you can age them with the best.

Zinfandel vineyards in Napa Valley

Napa Valley Hills

In contrast to wines grown on the Napa Valley Floor, those grown in the Napa Hillside are exposed to cooler temperatures, leading to a higher acidity. The vines are old, like in other areas of California, so the root systems go deep. These wines tend to have a spicier, earthier flavour profile – think cayenne pepper and tobacco.


Love Merlot? Then you definitely need to try a Zinfandel from Sonoma. These wines are characterized by chocolatey mocha and five-spice flavours. They are softer and lusher than some other Zinfandels on the market due to the cooler (and foggier) temperatures in the Sonoma region.


There’s a large, flat region in the central valley of California. This is called the Lodi wine region. It’s the location of the major commercial wineries in California, so many different grape varieties are grown here. Among these, you will find Zinfandel! Lodi Zinfandels are very rich, with dark raspberry and mocha notes.

Sierra Foothills

Looking for a super jammy Zinfandel? Look for one from the Sierra Foothills. This region is warmer, so the grapes grown here develop more ripe red fruit flavours (like raspberry and strawberry) and tend to have a higher alcohol content.

Mendocino Ridge

High-altitude, cool-climate vineyards spot the mountains only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. Significant diurnal shifts result in deliciously balanced wines with high acidity and complex flavours, with bramble fruit notes. These vineyards were planted in the late 1800s and were kept running throughout Prohibition due to the pioneer families’ dedication and production of bootleg wines. 

Did you know?
Mendocino Ridge is nicknamed “Islands of the sky” because it is a non-continuous wine region high up in the mountains, above the fog line. 

Paso Robles

An incredibly diverse region in terms of terroir. The rainfall can range from 254 mm to 1016 mm per year, depending on the elevation, ranging from 700 feet to 2400 feet above sea level. This means Zinfandel from this region is also diverse in flavour profile, but generally, they are more floral than those from other Californian regions. 

Zinfandel vines in Paso Robles

Growing Primitivo (Crljenak Kaštelanski/Tribidrag) in Croatia

Dalmatian Coast

In Croatia, most Tribidrag has been replaced by the grape’s child variety, Plavac Mali, but in recent years more Tribidrag has been reintroduced into the region. It has lower tannins than Plavac Mali and develops delicious berry and spice notes when grown here.

What to Pair with Primitivo?

Primitivo is extremely versatile and will pair well with a variety of dishes. The tannins and acidity make it very food-friendly, but we are partial to pairing it with hearty foods – especially tomato-based dishes. Try it with your favourite pizza on a weeknight, a spaghetti bolognese the next time you feel like Italian, a lentil stew on a rainy day, or even barbecued hamburgers at your next block party! 

Glass of red wine (Zinfandel) with foods

Three Styles of Primitivo from Puglia

So, we’ve piqued your interest, and you want to know more about Primitivo from Puglia? We knew it! Three DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) produce Primitivo wines that each have unique characteristics. These are:

  • Manduria
    Primitivo wines from Manduria are rich. The region is at a very low altitude, close to the sea and experiences warm temperatures, which gives these wines robust flavour and higher alcohol content.
  • Gioia del Colle
    Wines from Gioia del Colle are fresh. The region is located on a flat plateau which experiences a large diurnal shift, which gives these wines a balanced acidity unique to this region. 
  • Salento
    Salento Primitivo wines are dry. The region is also located at a lower altitude, along the Ionian Sea, but here the coastal influence leads to higher tannin and less alcohol than in Manduria.
Zinfandel vineyards in Puglia

What’s a DOC?

If you’ve been learning more about Italian wines, then you’ve probably seen the abbreviation DOC. But what does that mean? It stands for ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’ which, put simply, is a classification system for Italian wines. The system classifies wines based on where they are grown and how they are made. If a wine has a DOC classification, it guarantees that that wine follows specific quality standards.

How to Choose a Good Primitivo

Having trouble finding the perfect Primitivo? Shopping for wine can be overwhelming – but that’s why we’re here! Sign up for a wine subscription from WineCollective, and you’ll receive a curated selection of amazing wines from around the world – every month. We often feature Primitivo and Zinfandel, so you’ll get to explore some excellent selections. Members even get 15-50 percent off the retail price of bottles in the store

Looking for a Primitivo? Try this Coppi Peucetico Primitivo straight from Puglia! Members save 21 percent off retail!

Looking for a Zinfandel? Try this Integration Red – an invigorating blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel from California. Members get 20 percent off retail on this gem!

Join WineCollective Today!

The A-Z of Sustainable Wine: Wine Terms to Know

Are you interested in sustainable wine? Or maybe even organic or biodynamic wine? In this handy glossary, we list all the terms you should know! 



Additional ingredients used during winemaking. While it’s not mandatory to list ingredients on wine bottles, there are plenty of additives that winemakers have at their disposal – from cultured yeast to sulphur, but also “mega purple,” a grape concentrate to “colour correct” red wine.


An agroecosystem is a cultivated ecosystem – usually a farm – a co-production between nature and humans. It strives to achieve a harmonious balance between people and the environment for current and future generations. 

Amphorae, see: “Qvevri


Biodynamic Winemaking

Biodynamic winemaking is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to farming, recognizing the vineyard as a self-regulating ecosystem. Originating from the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic viticulture meets or exceeds the standards for organic farming practices, using only natural resources to cultivate grapes, and absolutely no pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, etc. 

sustainable wines through biodiversity in the vineyard

Biodiversity in the Vineyard

Vineyard biodiversity refers to the diverse variety of animals, plants, and microorganisms within the vineyard at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. Biodiverse vineyards are more resilient.


Brettanomyces, also known as “brett”, is a rogue spoilage yeast that affects a lot of wines. In low doses, it can add complexity and interest to the wine, but in high doses, it’s commonly considered a wine fault. Brett aromas range from “leathery” to “spicy” to “horsey” and “barnyard-y” in higher concentrations. A lot of spontaneously fermented wines are affected by brett. 


Canada Organic

Canada Organic is a certification that indicates a product is in line with Canadian Organic Standards (COS) and can use the Canada Organic Logo. The certification is carried out by third-party certification bodies.

Carbonic Maceration

Carbonic maceration uses whole clusters of grapes in a sealed, carbon dioxide-filled tank to start fermentation internally within each grape without crushing them. It is used to produce fresh, fruit-forward, low-tannin red wines.

Circular Economy

The circular economy is an economic model based on the principle of limited resources. Inspired by the natural ecosystem, the model prioritizes sustainable growth through the practices of reducing, reusing, and recycling resources. Many wineries around the world are shifting to a more circular and regenerative approach.


Copper compounds, in the form of copper sulphate, have been used by winegrowers to fight fungi and bacteria attacking vines, most notably powdery mildew. Copper is used by organic growers who are not allowed to spray with synthetic fungicides. However, even though copper is a trace element naturally found in plants and animals, its continued use can pose risks to farmers, animals, and groundwater. The EU has already reduced the maximum allowable quantities. 

Conversion to Organic Farming

If a vineyard wants to go organic, it cannot do so immediately – there’s a three-year transition period involved, which needs to be carefully planned and monitored, including mandatory measures to promote and protect ecosystem health. Only after these three years can a vineyard become certified organic.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are wild or selected crops growing between rows of vines that promote biodiversity and support the long-term health of a vineyard and surrounding ecosystems. They help protect against erosion, supply nutrients, and promote aeration of the soils. These crops also provide a habitat for beneficial insects, which help fight harmful bugs.

Cow Horn Preparations

In biodynamic winemaking, vineyards are treated with horn manure, commonly known as “500”. Cow manure is put into cow horns and buried underground during the winter months. The compost is then made into a spray preparation, which is sprayed on the land to improve soil health. During the summer months, quartz crystals are buried in a cow horn to make horn silica (“501”) which boosts plants’ immunity and enhances photosynthesis and ripening.

cow horn stuffed with biodynamic compost preparations



Named after the Greek goddess of agriculture, Biodynamic Federation Demeter International dates back to 1928 and is the world’s oldest ecological certification organization. A Demeter International label is a guarantee for consumers that a product was produced through biodynamic agriculture. 


Dry-farming means growing crops without irrigation, relying only on rainfall. With irrigation under scrutiny, dry-farming is considered the more environmentally-friendly way of grape growing. Proponents also claim it yields grapes that are more intensely flavoured. Dry-farming grapes is easier when vines are mature because their roots reach deeper. The practice is considered a requirement for making natural wine.



Founded in France in 1991, ECOCERT is one of the largest organic certification organizations worldwide, conducting inspections in over 80 countries. They certify food and food products, but also cosmetics and detergents. 

Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint, promoted by the Global Footprint Network, is a metric that compares the resource demand of individuals, governments, and businesses against the earth’s capacity for biological regeneration. In other words, the quantity of nature it takes to support a person, organization, or national economy. 


Fairtrade Wine

Fairtrade is a certification which guarantees that vineyards receive a fair minimum price when they sell their wine or grapes to a trader, depending on the cost of living and business in the area of origin. A Fairtrade Premium ensures that small vineyards can invest in social, economic, and environmental improvements which benefit their workers and local communities.


Fining is the process of removing unwanted material from wine while it is still in the cellar. It involves adding an organic matter to the wine which bonds to compounds in the wine, making these larger molecules easier to remove. With filtering, particles such as dead yeast cells and other sediments can be removed, but with fining it’s possible to remove soluble substances such as proteins as well, which allows the finished wine to look clear rather than hazy. Winemakers who don’t clarify their wine say their wine retains more character, texture and flavour – natural wine is often merely minimally filtered. See also: Vegan Wine.



This onomatopoeia would be “glug-glug” in English, and it’s a French word for a popular type of natural wine that is young, fruit-forward, and juicy. Glou-glou wines are relatively low in alcohol and very drinkable – often served chilled. 

Gravity-Flow Winemaking

The process of gravity-flow winemaking (also known as “gravity-fed” winemaking) allows for the wine to stream through levels in the winery. Unlike traditional single-level cellars, gravity-flow does not use pumps or mechanical force, enabling the winemaker to gently extract colour, flavour, and tannins. The process is more environmentally friendly – with no machinery needed, a gravity-flow system significantly reduces a winery’s costs and energy consumption. 



Indigenous Yeast, see: “Yeast

Integrity & Sustainability Certified, see: “Sustainable Winemaking




LEED-Certified Building

A winery can voluntarily obtain a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification when its buildings are energy-efficient and cost-saving. The building must meet requirements regarding sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, use of materials, and indoor environmental quality. In 2005, Niagara’s Stratus Winery was the first building to get the certification in Canada.

Lunar Calendar

In biodynamic winemaking, farming is done according to the biodynamic calendar, which reflects the lunar cycle. It suggests a direct correlation between the phases of the moon – the moon’s sidereal cycle – and the success of each phase of planting. “Root days” are best for pruning, and on “leaf days” chlorophyll production in the plant increases. Harvesting should be done on “fruit days.“ On “flower days” the vineyard should be best left alone. Tasks in the wine cellar also follow the lunar calendar.

Low Intervention, see: “Minimal Intervention


Minimal Intervention

Just like “natural winemaking,” minimal intervention winemaking has no legal definition. Yet, many winemakers prefer the terms “minimal intervention” or “low intervention” over “natural wine” since it more aptly describes what they do, or rather don’t do, such as only using ambient yeast, using no or minimal amounts of sulphites and not fining the wine. While they’re trying to be as hands-off as possible, they need to create the circumstances to ensure that this process runs smoothly, such as using healthy fruit and maintaining a squeaky clean winery.


“Mousiness” is considered a mysterious wine fault, creating an off-flavour right as you swallow – a breathy finish that some compare to a “dead mouse” or a “mouse cage”. It seems to present itself quite randomly in the barrel or tank, especially in wines without added sulphites.


Naked Wine, see: “Natural Wine

Native Yeast, see: “Yeast

Natural Wine

Sometimes also called “minimal intervention” wine, natural wine is a fashionable term without legal definition. Natural winemakers use organic or biodynamic grapes, but also only rely on native yeasts in the fermentation process, adding no or almost no sulphur. The wines are often unfined and unfiltered. Natural wine is sometimes also referred to as “Naked Wine” or “Raw Wine”.


Orange Wines, see “Skin-fermented wines

Organic Wine

In Europe and Canada, a wine from organically grown grapes may be certified organic, even if there are some added sulphites. In the USA, however, an organic wine can’t contain any added sulphites. In 2019, 6.2 percent of the world’s total area under vines was certified organic. Organic viticulture focuses on improving soil health, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, fungicides or herbicides. Various bodies around the world provide organic certification. Read more in this article on organic wine.


When a wine is “oxidative”, it means it was deliberately exposed to oxygen when it was made. This practice adds a bit of complexity to a wine, with some nutty, dried-fruit tones. Natural wines, made with little to no sulphur additions, are often oxidative. An oxidative wine isn’t the same thing as a wine that has “oxidized,” which is a wine fault. If the wine is brown and smells off, it’s probably oxidized. 



Pét-Nat is an abbreviation of “Pétillant Naturel”, which refers to an ancient method of making sparkling wine. When still wine is bottled before fermentation is completed, this process continues in the bottle, but the CO2 gets trapped. Pét-Nat has a slight fizz, and is often cloudy because the lees (the dead yeast cells) are not filtered out. In the Prosecco area, this ancient method is called “Col Fondo”. Pét-nat is a popular style among natural winemakers



The region now known as the country of Georgia is considered to be the cradle of wine. Ancient Georgians used clay amphorae called “qvevri” to ferment and store wine in. Usually, they were buried in the ground up to the neck. Modern winemakers in Georgia were the first to re-embrace their qvevri roots. The practice of fermenting and ageing wine in amphorae was then adopted by a few Northern Italian winemakers who were interested in making minimal-intervention wines. Today, the use of amphorae has spread to winemaking regions across the globe and is no longer exclusive to natural winemakers. 


Raw Wine, see: “Natural Wine

Regenerative Winemaking

Regenerative winemaking sees the vineyard as an agroecosystem – taking all living organisms into account and making the vineyard rich, resilient, and self-sustaining. It moves away from chemical-based monocultural agriculture, and instead regenerates soils and environments, achieving greater biodiversity. It involves crop rotation, compost application, and reduced tillage to increase soil health and improve the agroecosystem as a whole. 


Skin-Fermented Wines

Also called orange wines, amber wine, or skin-contact wines, skin-fermented wines are a category of white wines that are made like a red wine. Most white wines are made when grape juice is pressed, taken off the skins, and then fermented. In red winemaking, there’s usually some time that the skins are left soaking in the juice to extract colour, tannins, and flavour. When this same technique is done with white grapes, it results in a more vibrantly coloured (from golden to deep amber) wine with various degrees of tannins and structure. These wines are usually made with minimal intervention

Soil health

Soil health is the long-term ability of the soil to function as an ecosystem and sustain life. It’s a holistic and integrative approach to soil, making sure the soil contributes to the preservation of natural resources.


Almost all wine contains sulphites, because sulphur dioxide is a byproduct of alcoholic fermentation. In the vineyard, sprayed sulphur can protect against disease and in the cellar, it can function as a wine preservative. The permissible quantities are strictly regulated, especially in organic and biodynamic winemaking. Some winemakers opt out of its use entirely, see: “natural wine”.

Sustainable Wine

Sustainable winemaking isn’t strictly regulated, but it is generally a set of measures taken by a winery to reduce its impact on the environment. These measures can include reducing water and energy use, improving long-term soil health, reducing erosion, promoting biodiversity, and implementing health and safety requirements for workers. Often, winegrowers adhere to their country’s or region’s sustainable winemaking standards: 96 percent of New Zealand’s vineyard area falls under the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand certification programme (SWNZ). In Chile, winegrowers voluntarily adhere to the Chilean Wine Industry Sustainability Code. In South Africa, audited vineyards and wineries may use the Integrity Sustainability Seal on their sustainable wine.

Steiner, Rudolf

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a scientist and philosopher, and the founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture (See: “Biodynamic winemaking”).



Terroir is the combination of soil, climate, sunlight and other factors within a vineyard that lend wine grapes their distinctive taste. Some say terroir gives wine a “sense of place” and character. Organic, biodynamic, and natural winemakers are concerned with allowing the purest possible expression of their terroir to come through.


Unfiltered/Unfined Wine, see: Filtration/Fining

USDA Organic

In the United States, a wine may be organically certified when grapes are organically grown, and all additives (such as yeast) are organic. The addition of sulphites isn’t allowed, which explains why there aren’t many certified organic wines from the US on the market – the best natural preservative for wine is sulphur. 


Vin Méthode Nature

Established in 2019, Vin Méthode Nature is the first private wine label for natural wine, officially defined by a 12-point charter and a control protocol. No sulphur may be added before and during fermentation, but a minimum amount before bottling is allowed (in which case it needs to be mentioned on the label). The French initiative has an Italian counterpart in VinNatur.

Vegan Wine

Not all wine is vegan, as some traditional fining agents contain products derived from animals. Egg whites, casein (a milk protein), or a product derived from fish bladders can be used to remove tiny particles in the wine, but other fining methods are becoming increasingly popular, making most wines vegan-friendly. For instance, bentonite (a type of clay), limestone or plant casein are all alternatives. Still, it can be hard to tell as it is not mandatory to list fining agents. Look for the V-label if you want to be 100 percent sure that a vine is vegan. 

Volatile Acidity

Often abridged to VA, volatile acidity is a measure of the amount of gaseous acids in a wine. The main concern is with acetic acid, which has the smell and taste of vinegar, and ethyl acetate, which causes nail polish-like aromas. Excessive VA levels in a wine are an indicator of bacterial spoilage. Not only do people have varying sensory thresholds for detecting VA, natural wine enthusiasts seem to be more accepting of it, as natural winemaking increases the likelihood of high VA levels. 


Water Management

Efficient water use is one of the keys to sustainable winemaking alongside energy conservation, lowering emissions, and waste reduction. Winemakers can reuse treated wastewater, use drip irrigation, and control soil moisture as methods of water management. Dry-farming relies on using rainwater only (see: “Dry-farming”).

Wild Yeast, see “Yeast




The most widely used yeast for winemaking is saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast because it’s quite tolerant of alcohol. It’s either introduced as a commercial culture, or introduced to the winery by accident (for instance via someone’s clothes) where it lives on. Cultured yeast strains are usually carefully selected to accentuate certain aromas or flavours and to ensure a smooth fermentation. Some winemakers rely purely on the yeast that naturally occurs on grape skins and the environment, also known as ambient, indigenous, natural, or wild yeast. This sets off spontaneous fermentation, and the length of the fermentation period becomes harder to predict. 



“Zero-zero” winemakers take natural or minimal intervention winemaking to the extreme: no added yeast or sulphites are used, and the wine is unfined and unfiltered. In other words: zero was added and zero was taken away. See also: “Natural Wine”.

At WineCollective, we’re always on the lookout for new exciting wines, and make sure to share our discoveries and rare finds with our members. Become a member today, and join us as we explore uncharted territories and discover wonderful grape varieties and unusual blends.

The Design of Wine: Storytelling Through The Label with Boutinot Wines

Despite the popular wisdom being “don’t judge a book by its cover,” humans are visual creatures. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we’re highly influenced by beauty and aesthetics, and wine whether the bottle, or architecture, is no different. A great wine label will always stand out, even in a crowded wine aisle. For Boutinot Wines, the company behind several of WineCollective’s favourites, the wine label has become an important vehicle for visual storytelling. Jenny Hickman, creative manager, and Julie Ruiz, international product manager, give us a glimpse into the design process.

Can you tell us a bit about the visual storytelling that Boutinot Wines does via its labels? What’s the process and what are some of the challenges?

Jenny Hickman (JH): “Our in-house design team and our partner designers all understand the core message of Boutinot – great quality wine at an accessible price – and we work hard to make sure the design and dry goods choices reflect that message, whether it’s a bright, bold and modern label or a contemporary take on a classic.

Boutinot has amazing, long-standing relationships with our producers, but we’re not just importers, we’re growers and winemakers in our own right. This gives our creative team real access, not only to the wine information and thought process behind it but also to the regions where the grapes are grown, all from the people who actually live and work there. For example, we’ve recently redesigned our Il Badalisc wine. The design is now a true reflection of the legend and the real-life festival that goes with it.

At Boutinot we’re lucky enough to sell wine all over the world. With that comes the need to understand the different cultures and attitudes of our audiences and how they may interpret our designs. The creative team also gets to work closely with our fantastic sales divisions to ensure our thoughts and designs translate to our customers and consumers.”

4 bottles with wine labels: Il Badalisc, Avoir la Peche, Wildeberg and ALO
Il Badalisc Pinot Grigio, Avoir La Pêche Chardonnay, Wildeberg Chenin Blanc & ALO Rubis Rouge

What do you keep in mind when you’re designing for different types of wine? 

Julie Ruiz (JR): “I think the key is to nail down what it is about a particular wine that you want to convey. What part of the story makes it really unique? The wines we make are so delicious, that you want to reflect on how great it tastes. The challenge is, how do you say that? Some wines are about more obscure places that you want people to discover, so you need to insist on that by making the region more prominent or finding other ways. For instance, when it came to “Avoir la Pêche”, it was all about a very good Chardonnay from France and not overthinking it. It tastes like peaches, it’s vibrant, so we thought: let’s be a bit cheeky with a French expression [translating as “feeling in top form”] and have some fun! Another example would be Wildeberg or Alo, two projects that truly focus on regional provenance and taking cues from the environments the wines are from: a wild South African landscape or a little jewel from a rocky soil in the Languedoc.”

Avoir La Pêche is a WineCollective favourite. 

What’s your favourite part of the design process? 

JR: “That’s hard to pick. But probably seeing the first batch of designs following a storytelling brief. We try to be as open as possible with designers or creative agencies to see what their interpretation of our wine is and the story we want to tell. What they “see” in their mind, based on what you think in your mind, is always the big reveal we fear/get excited about.”

JH: “The initial concept work is our favourite stage, and we like to be thorough with our research. Even when a brief seems clear, you can end up on a different path with the information you discover. We always present multiple potential routes at this stage and our research is never wasted, quite often it can inspire a completely different project.

Our Al203 range was one of the most fun to research. Starting off with the idea of “hidden gems” and a ruby red wine, we ended up delving into the science behind the gemstone. It turns out that a Ruby is just a red Sapphire (which also comes in black!), both of which are made up from the formula Al203 – “Alo”.

Our Showdown range also makes for really fun research. There are 54 individual cards in a deck and those cards can be used for so many things – from poker to Cartomancy so the possibilities are endless for this range. Our biggest task is narrowing down so many great options into the best one to represent the specific wine.”

3 wine labels, Cairanne, Showdown, ALO
Apis Mellifera Cairanne, Showdown Man with the Ax, Alo Jais Noir

Showdown Man with the Ax is a WineCollective favourite.

Many of your wine labels stand out because they are funny. Humour is a great way to get noticed, of course, but how do you make sure it works internationally? 

JR: “We think about the audience a lot, and in which environment the wines are going to be sold (restaurant, retail, etc.), but we try to stay relatively cheeky and light with our messaging. For us, humour is a way of making wine more accessible and less scary, which I think is a welcomed trend at the minute. However, once we decide upon a design, a name, etc, we always scope around the teams and some customers to make sure that it’s appropriate and still works as a concept.”

Besides humour, what are some of the other tactics to stand out on the crowded store shelves? 

JR: “We recently started collaborating with fantastic artists that have a very clear vision of the world (that’s not necessarily associated with wine) and by mixing both art and wine, and it turned out phenomenal. So I would say we try to be bolder in our styles and colours.” 

JH: “We also like to try and push the “standard formula” of a wine label. Even if we are presenting a more traditional wine, we try to see if there is an interesting way to lay out the typography or crop an illustration that will add some intrigue. Apis Mellifera, a new wine from Boutinot Rhône is a good example of this, where we decided to look deeper at our own brand – which we represented with a detailed illustration of a bee wing. 

We also have great relationships with printers all over the world and our technical managers work hard to ensure our designs stand out with finishes and techniques that elevate the concept.”

Could you give us a few examples of label designs that resonated/stood out?

JR: “Oh there are so many! Here are a few:

Uva non Grata – an artistic label project working with several designers from different countries to encourage people to buy unknown grape varieties. It’s all about the grapes here!

Henners – a beautifully designed label for our English Home taking inspiration from the English countryside and beach coastlines.

Le Petit Bonbon – a lovely illustrated Boutique Window inspired by walks in Paris and traditional shops. The name reflects the fruitier character of the wine, tasting like a little strawberry treat.

Pablo y Walter – a colourful label, reflective of both the fantastic wine inside the bottle and the vibrancy of Mendoza. The handshake is representative of the great partnerships with winemakers and people in general.”

4 wine labels: Uva Non Grata Gamay, Henners Brut, Le Petit Bonbon, Pablo Y Walter
Uva Non Grata Gamay, Henners Brut, Le Petit Bonbon, Pablo Y Walter

Uva Non Grata Gamay is a WineCollective favourite.

Feeling inspired by these designs? Go on and explore our WineCollective store, where we feature many bottles with great labels for every taste. And of course, it’s ultimately about what’s in the bottle. Our wine experts personally taste hundreds of bottles each month, to make sure our members receive a selection of fantastic wines delivered to their doorstep each month. Join us, and we’ll explore the world of wine together. 

We Have Arrived: Q&A with Nondumiso Pikashe of Ses’fikile Wines

Nondumiso Pikashe of Ses'fikile Wines walks a red carpet wearing a traditional red skirt.
Nondumiso Pikashe of Ses’fikile Wines

With an entrepreneurial spirit that just could not be ignored, Nondumiso Pikashe left her career as a high school teacher and jumped into the world of South African wine. This was in 2006 and since then, she has launched her own Ses’fikile Wines. Meaning “We have arrived”, the brand proudly celebrates Nondumiso’s indigenous culture. The company is 100 percent owned and operated by women, and supports girls pursuing careers in the wine industry.

Nondumiso enrolled in a garagiste winemaking course, as well as the WSET Level 2 award in wine program. She now works in partnership with Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards, deciding on the style of wines that will be made, and working closely with a group of all-female winemakers to get the end result she is looking for. 

WineCollective features two Ses’fikile wines, and we thought it’d be great to introduce the woman behind these wines to our members.

You’re a successful wine business owner, but you used to be a high school teacher. We’re curious to hear how you ended up where you are today – what propelled the decision to go into wine?

“Thank you for the kind and encouraging words. The decision was informed by socio-political changes and personal ones. South Africa was becoming a free and just society to pursue your dreams. It was a great time of discovery and adventure, a really exciting time. I had a conflicted relationship with alcohol since my two siblings succumbed to alcoholism. Wine as an alcoholic beverage was the most despised in my community, because it was obscured. It was during this time that I discovered the beauty and magic of a grape berry turning into a palatable and complex, yet divine drink.”

Can you tell us something about the meaning of the name “Ses’fikile” and what it represents?

“Ses’fikile is derived from my language IsiXhosa and means “We have arrived”. It is celebratory and aspirational. It is multifaceted in that it looks back to history with a spirit of triumph, and it celebrates inclusivity and consciousness. It affirms women alongside men for better coexistence and growth. It recognizes the arrival of the South African wine industry on the global platform to compete meaningfully amongst other wine-producing countries.”

Nondumiso Pikashe of Ses'fikile Wines speaks about the wines on display at an event.
Nondumiso Pikashe displaying Ses’fikile wines.

We’ve read that Ses’fikile strives to break stereotypes about indigenous brands in the wine industry. What are some of these stereotypes, and what is your approach towards working to break them?

“It goes to the extent that you rarely find such beautiful brands as Ses’fikile in the main market in South Africa. But it’s an uphill battle that we are going to win over time. Some of the stereotypes are from our ugly past as a country and others are cultural/societal constructs. We all have a role to play, irrespective of gender and upbringing. The approach was to be intentional and deliberate with the brand Ses’fikile and be proud about it. I try to ensure that the conventional is not the ONLY way. For example, I would do wine and food pairings using African cuisine. I would also share my own supposedly embarrassing moments about the culture of wine openly. I try to educate whenever I find an opportunity about the relevance of the brand in this day and age of innovation.”

I discovered the beauty and magic of a grape berry turning into a palatable and complex, yet divine drink

Nondumiso Pikashe

Does your background in education still come in handy in your day-to-day work, and if so, how?

“It does! I am able to speak confidently about my journey in front of an audience, but most importantly, I am able to apply my own motto: You are never old to learn. I am passionate about ensuring that we as a community talk about responsible wine consumption to young people. This should not be taboo.”

Can you tell us about your decision-making process regarding your wine blends and their overall style? What are some of the considerations you have to keep in mind?

“I did a mini survey on blends in the market and read a bit about what was out there. I discovered there was a gap in this blend space. I needed to create my unique selling point, that’s how the blends came into being. I decided on the two grape varieties, Cinsault and Roussanne, as they are beautiful unsung heroines. They complement the popular Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, respectively. I am for palatability, fruitiness, accessibility of the wine that can be enjoyed freely with no rules attached.”

WineCollective features your Chenin Blanc-Roussanne blend and your Shiraz-Cinsault blend. What are some of your favourite food pairings with these wines?

“Thank you for this. The Ses’fikile white, a Chenin-Roussanne blend, pairs well with light meals from salads to white meats. I pair the red Shiraz-Cinsault blend with my favourite dish, samp and tripe in the company of friends or family.”

Want to discover more inspiring stories behind our wines? Sign up as a WineCollective member today and receive a monthly wine guide with your delivery, filled to the brim with useful tasting notes, winemaker interviews and wine 101s that help you on your wine journey!

International Grapes Versus Native Grapes

You might have heard the term “native grapes,” but what do we mean by it? And what about “international grapes” – what are those? In this blog post we’ll give you the lowdown.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV):

  • There are around 10,000 known wine grape varieties
  • 6,000 belong to fine wine species Vitis vinifera
  • 13 of those grape varieties cover more than a third of the global vineyard surface
  • Just 33 grape varieties cover 50% of the global vineyard surface

What are Native Grape Varieties?

“Native” or “indigenous” varieties refer to grapes that thrive in their originated region. These produce quite distinctive wines. Italy alone boasts over 400 registered grape varieties (although probably, lots more varieties occur in the country).
There’s been a worldwide drive to revive obscure, local grapes in the last few decades, literally bringing back more variety. Viognier was one of the firsts. It is so hard to imagine that Viognier was almost extinct in the 1960s, since they have been so widely planted. Other examples include Ruchè from Piedmont, Criolla in Argentina or Trepat in Catalonia.

Why are Native Grapes Rising in Popularity?

Many cultural factors account for the rising popularity of native grapes. With our current generation of winemakers and wine drinkers, there is a newfound enthusiasm for new old-world styles, production methods, and even varieties.

With a high standard placed on localism these days, we see many people reestablishing the bond between grape varieties and their homes! These factors coupled with the ease of growing these varieties in their home environments, these new native varieties produce interesting wines that attract the newer generations of wine drinkers and makers.

These grape varieties also grow in fewer numbers or produce a lower yield. This creates an opportunity for winemakers to explore and create new boutique or novelty varieties of wine.

Bringing Back Tradition with Native Grape Varieties

With the popularity of native grapes rising again, many winemakers, viticulturists, and regions are reviving these grape varieties.

Restoring Old-World Vines in the Present

One leading force in this movement is Spanish winemaker Miguel A. Torres, from Bodega Torres. He went to France to study viticulture, and upon his return to Spain in 1983, he was sure that there would be old vines that had survived the 19th-century phylloxera epidemic –the tiny louse that destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe. So Torres reached out to farmers in Catalonia. He asked them to get in touch if they found vines they could not identify.

In the mid-1980s, a red wine grape that was later identified as Garro was found. Its vine was first checked for disease. Then, using scientific methods, it was acclimated to different soil types to see where it would grow best. The vine was then grafted to another one, eventually planted in Conca de Barberà. The grape made its debut in 1996 as part of the Torres’ Grans Muralles blend. So far to date, the company has been able to identify and revive almost 50 forgotten grapes that survived phylloxera. An upside of these revivals is that many of these grape varieties show good heat and drought resistance; this obviously appeals to today’s winemakers who are struggling to adapt to climate change.

Preserving Old-World Vines for the Future

Another interesting movement is the “Louvre of Wine” that is occurring in France. Scientists from the French National Institute for Research into Agriculture, Food and the Environment will be freezing the largest collection of vines. If the current popular grape varieties die out due to climate change, they might one day be revived. 

Scientists will freeze the vines using liquid nitrogen at -320 °F (-196 °C). The hope is that future researchers will use these these long-lost varieties to find a way to revive them for wine drinkers decades from now. 

What are International Grape Varieties?

Grape varieties that are planted in a lot of different countries are known as “international varieties” or “classic varieties”. Cabernet Sauvignon is the best-known red, and Chardonnay for white. The majority of these varieties are French in origin – this means they are native to certain regions of France.

They gained international recognition when the wines produced were labeled as varietal wines. This means when new-world winemakers started labeling their wines as varietal wines. This was the opposite of what their old world counterparts did. Old-world wines are usually named after the appellation or region that the grapes were grown in.

As per the OIV these are the most popular red wine grape varieties that grow around the world. 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Merlot 
  • Syrah 
  • Grenache Noir 
A glass of white wine made from popular international grape varieties

As per the OIV, these are the most popular white wine grape varieties that grow worldwide. 

  • Chardonnay 
  • Sauvignon Blanc 
  • Riesling

Why are International Grape Varieties So Widely Planted?

It’s All in the Name

So why are international grapes so popular?
For starters, when winemakers began naming wines after the variety rather than the appellation, and it really caught on among consumers. So, these wines grew in popularity, and many winemakers began copying them by planting these varieties themselves and producing their own wines by the same name.

Smart Marketing

Since they are so recognizable, this was also a commercially smart move for winemakers and wineries trying to get on the map. Many wine lovers would be willing to pick up a bottle of a famous grape variety such as Merlot. However, not many people wanted to experiment with a native variety that is lesser known.

They’re Easy to Grow

Lastly, many of these international varieties are easier to grow than native varieties which often require more tending to. Take Cabernet Sauvignon for an example. This grape can grow in several regions worldwide due to it’s versatility. Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in both cooler and warmer climates alike. However, you can expect wines that differ in taste and characteristics. 

International Grape Varieties aren’t Always Successful

A Merlot Mishap

It is important to remember that even international varieties that have proven their success tend to go in and out of fashion. A good example of this is Merlot in California. Its rapid expansion in the early 2000s (and not a well-thought-out one) led to the rise in the number of Merlot grapes. Soon after this, due to many factors, Merlot dropped in popularity. This obviously included the high number of grapes available. In addition to this, the low pricing, and typical average flavours led Merlot to its demise in popularity.

Precious Pinot

In addition to this, some varieties just aren’t suitable for a particular climate, resulting in poor-quality wine. One of these examples would be Pinot Noir. Even though it is an increasingly popular grape variety, it is difficult to grow. It is even harder to produce optimal wine if it is grown in regions that don’t allow the grape to thrive (outside of its normal growing regions). Therefore, winegrowers need to keep climate and terroir in mind when looking for the right grape varieties to grow.

What Do You Think? 

Do lesser known grape varieties make your wine journey more exciting? Or does it only make wine more confusing? We’d love to know what you think! So tag us or send us a message on our Instagram @WineCollective.

And if you’re looking to discover more interesting grape varieties, then you’re at the right place. Subscribe to become a member and enjoy new and exciting wines from around the world, delivered straight to your door!

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Wine!

Will You be Wine?

It’s no secret that wine makes the perfect pair for plenty of occasions. We’re hard-pressed thinking of a special holiday, dinner, or event that doesn’t make a great companion to any type of wine. However, if we had to choose, Valentine’s Day would probably win out in a ‘best match’ competition. Nothing compliments a romantic dinner or night-in on Valentine’s Day quite like a bottle (or 2) of wine! At WineCollective we are big proponents of sharing wine any time you feel like pouring a glass, but there is something extra special about wine on v-day. If you’re looking to pair some wine with your Valentine’s plans, here’s a few of our favourite recent bottles that are still available in our online store!

Valentine’s Day Wine Bottles

Let the Sparks Fly!

Sparkling wine makes celebrating feel all the more special. With so many bubbly options available, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to try out something new. Champagne is pretty synonymous with New Years Eve, so we’ve paired together a Prosecco and Sparkling Rosé for some exciting cork popping. Other great bubbles include Cava or Cremant – both of which are typically priced lower than Champagne. Rosé has the added bonus of being very on-brand colour-wise for Valentine’s Day!

The More the Merrier

As with most things, the more the better. Not everyone’s Valentine’s Day looks the same. If you’re having friends or family over for dinner, or maybe a girl’s night, getting an assortment of wine is the best plan of action. We created a 4 pack that is perfect for whatever your night entails. There are no rules when it comes to holidays like Valentine’s Day, so if you want to make plans that go against the grain — that’s great! Lastly, If you want to get someone special in your life a gift for v-day, we do have a special offer on wine gifts. Enter the code XOXOWINE15 at checkout and save on a really awesome gift!

Happy Valentine’s Day no matter how you choose to celebrate!

Featured September Wine

Making the Most of Your Wine Club

Well, we all made it! September 2019 has passed us by and all of our home lives are now a well-oiled machine. We would argue the craziness of September is reason enough to join a wine club, but in fact — we are fast approaching an even better reason: holiday season. That’s right, the perfect time to be in a wine club is during the holidays. Think of how many times in the coming months you’ll be scrambling to stop at the liquor store on your way to a dinner party. Or when your guest list grows and you don’t have time to stock up. Being a WineCollective member means you are ready for all holiday hosting emergencies. We could go on, but instead let’s take a look back at the great wine that got our wine club members through the month of September!

WineCollective Featured Wine

  • Alceño Cibolo — Syrah, Monastrell | Jumilla, Spain
  • Bürgermeister Schweinhardt Weißer Burgunder — Pinot Blanc | Nahe, Germany
  • Le Cirque — Grenache Gris | Côtes Catalanes, France
  • False Bay Old School — Syrah | Coastal Region, South Africa
  • Domaine Sainte Catherine — Syrah, Grenache, Carignan | Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France
  • Black Market Omertà — Merlot | Okanagan Valley, Canada
  • Trius Red The Icon — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot | Niagara Peninsula, Canada
  • San Gregorio Las 75 Vendimias de Emilio González — Garnacha, Tempranillo | Calatayud, Spain
  • Château de la Roulerie Château de la Guerche — Chenin Blanc | Anjou, France
  • Chiorri — Sangiovese | Umbria, Italy
  • Closson Chase The Brock — Chardonnay | Niagara River, Canada
  • 2km — Malbec, Cabernet Franc | Paraje Altamira, Argentina

We hope you loved the wines you received and members don’t forget: shop the WineCollective online store to stock up on your favourites from the month. If you aren’t a WineCollective member, you’re missing out on some really great wine! What are you waiting for?! See you next month when we recap all the amazing October wine or check out last month to see what else we shared!

Celebrating All Amazing Moms

Moms are simply amazing. Whether your mom is a parent, or someone who’s come into your life in a different way – an aunt, family friend, in-law, neighbour or co-worker – they deserve a little thank-you for all they are and do. One of the great things about a holiday like Mother’s Day is that we can make it our own and celebrate our mother figures the way we see fit. And we think that’s pretty awesome!

Getting Mom the Perfect Gift

Here at WineCollective we believe one of the greatest things about wine is that it brings people together— much like Mother’s Day. It can be stressful trying to pick out the perfect gift for the mom in your life and despite being (a little) biased, we think a WineCollective gift suits most any mom. Every month a wine delivery arrives on their doorstep and will act as a reminder about how much you care. Wine is always great to have on-hand and our gift options allow for people to really explore and learn about new types of wine that they might otherwise not take a chance on.

Our wine experts have put together a special Mother’s Day wine gift to surprise mom with. The best part is that you can save up to 30% off of the first month! 

Gift mom a special wine gift that includes:

  • Three professionally-curated wines – you’ll get to pick whether she receives an all-red, mixed or an all-white pack!
  • Three exclusive recipes in her first box to try out
  • A tasting guide for the journey
  • Member perks such as access to our private store with discounted pricing

Head to our Mother’s Day gifting page to learn more about our gift options and get that special mom you care a wine gift she will be truly excited to receive this Mother’s Day!

If you want to stay up to date with all the great events and specials we have coming up in the year to come, be sure to follow our socials! Instagram Facebook Twitter

Earth Day & Recycling Your WineCollective Materials

April 22nd marks Earth Day and at WineCollective we take our impact on the world around us pretty seriously. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we chose to forgo traditional print tasting cards in favour of our digital tasting guides. Since our business relies heavily on shipping fragile product across a very large country, we have to ensure our shipments are protected to minimize breakage. We are always looking for innovative changes to wine shipping and try to source packaging that is sustainable and protective enough so that you always get unbroken bottles that are ready to drink.

The reality is, because of the fragility of wine bottles, we need something substantial to protect them. So we ship our wine in cardboard boxes with expanded polystyrene (EPS) #6 inserts – which is the most readily recyclable Styrofoam material. Luckily over the years it has become increasingly easier to recycle EPS, however we do acknowledge it is still not a perfect process.

Polystyrene (EPS/Styrofroam) Recycling in Canada

(Updated September 2019)

We wanted to take the time today to highlight the locations across Canada that allow for recycling of EPS:



  • Airdrie: Eastside Recycling Depot, 21 East Lake Hill
  • Cochrane: Eco Centre, 50 Griffin Industrial Point
  • Grand Prairie: Aquatera Eco Centre: 10431 – 96 Avenue


  • Regina: Crown Shred & Recycling, 225 6th Avenue East


  • Keswick: Georgina Transfer Station, 23068 Warden Ave
  • Niagara Region: acceptable to place in your Blue Box
  • Richmond Hill: Elgin Mills Community Environmental Centre, 1124 Elgin Mills Road East
  • Vaughn: McCleary Court Community Environmental Centre, 130 McCleary Court
  • Walkerton: The Walkerton Landfill, 320 Kincardine Hwy


  • Pictou County: acceptable in Blue Bag
  • Colchester County: Packaging can be placed in your Containers Product Bag (bag #2) and left curb-side with your other recycling before 7am on pickup day


  • Whitehorse:
    • Raven Recycling, 100 Galena Rd
    • Whitehorse Waste Management Facility, Mile 91972 (Mile 919.72) Alaska Highway

Wine: Reuse & Recycle

Did you know there are a number of ways to recycle wine products?

As everyone tries to work harder and make changes in their lives to reduce their plastic consumption, recycle more, and change old habits, WineCollective is right there with you. We are always striving to look for new ways we can have minimal negative environmental impact and hope that as time goes on, there will be further changes in the packaging industry to offer sustainable and protective shipping solutions.

Happy Earth Day and let’s celebrate our amazing home with some wine by candlelight!

Celebrating The Wonderful World of Malbec

It seems like every day is a new “national” day of celebration – whether it be for hot dogs, beans, or umbrellas, everything gets its own day of recognition. Celebrating is fun, so it’s not that we’re complaining. We bring up this phenomenon because today is Malbec World Day! The name may sound a little funny to English speakers, but the sentiment is all the same: let’s celebrate great Malbec.

Malbec World Day was started in an effort by the Argentine government to ramp up the purchasing of their Malbec and now Argentina produces over 85% of the world’s supply of Malbec. That is quite the market share. Even though the grape originated in France (where it is often known as ‘Côt’), Argentina was the first to really embrace the Malbec varietal. Wine Folly has a really great blog post comparing the two, if you would like to learn more. It is undeniable that the hard work put in by Argentina to expand Malbec as their main grape varietal has allowed the wine type to flourish. Though you can also find Malbec being made in the US, Chile, and Canada – Argentina and France still remain as the world Malbec powers.

Over the years we have had a number of amazing Malbecs cross our paths. Malbec is a great wine to pair with classic Argentine dishes and BBQ – but it also pairs well with Indian cuisine featuring cumin. It’s a great wine to keep on-hand as Malbec is a fantastic wine for sharing that is generally very palatable. We currently have three Malbecs from Argentina available to members:

  • La Chamiza Polo Amateur Malbec : The Amateur line from La Chamiza are intended to portray more youthful and energetic qualities, which is evident in their Malbec. This is a fruit-forward profile on the nose, but there is something extra with every swirl. When tasting, there is a distinct jammy quality in the mid-palate that gives this a bolder presence and fuller body while still remaining effortless with moderate acidity.
  • Sierra Los Andes Malbec : If you want a pure, quintessential example of a mid-priced Argentine Malbec, this is it. Grown from the pristine El Alto Vineyard located in Ugarteche, the 1050 meter altitude gives rise to a balance of fresh acidity, plump texture, and vibrant fruit flavours. This Malbec offers a plush, velvety mouthfeel and lightly chewy tannins. It is definitely dry, but balanced by the ‘sweet’ flavours of sun-kissed fruits, giving us a textbook Malbec.
  • Klassen Astrum Barrel-Fermented Malbec : This premium Malbec is a truly special experience to enjoy. Fermentation occurring directly in oak barrels imparts soft, silky tannins and better oak integration, making this Malbec very quaffable. Medium to full-bodied, good tannin structure and balanced acidity, try serving a glass with a charcuterie platter or lamb. We have a small, finite quantity of this vintage and are very excited to share it with those who choose to invest in such an exceptional Malbec.

No matter which Malbec region you choose to imbibe, we always recommend selecting a Malbec produced by a knowledgeable, reputable grower. Luckily there are many in the world who are sharing incredible wine that can be enjoyed any time of year. So raise your glasses and help us in celebrating Malbec World Day! ¡Salud!

Old World vs New World Wines

This month in WineCollective’s subscription packages, we are featuring a number of wines that would be considered “Old World”. Sound too snobby for you? Let’s break it down a bit.


What is “Old World” wine?

Wines that originate in countries that first started winemaking – including France and Italy, which both produced wines featured in this month’s subscription! Old World countries are mostly located in the Mediterranean, but also includes countries like Turkey, Armenia, And Moldova.


Is “Old World” wine better than “New World”?

This is fully dependant upon the wine drinker’s tastes. Old World wines are more heavily restricted in how they can be produced and favour tradition over experimentation. Similar to trends in clothing where vintage is cool – Old World wine vs New World can ebb and flow in popularity. Both kinds have a lot to offer and both have fantastic options to imbibe.


Grapes Matter

Some grape varietals can be found in both old and new world wines, but have very different taste profiles. An example of the this is Syrah (France) vs Shiraz (Australia). Syrah wines are known for deep, rich flavours whereas Shiraz is generally very fruit forward. Similarly, the two main regions for Sauvignon Blanc are France and New Zealand. Both countries grow the same grape, but produce very different wines – again with France offering a more earthy palate over New Zealand’s fruit-forward profile. These are of course generalizations and you will encounter the occasional wine that falls out of line with tradition.



Does it really matter which “world” wine is from?

That depends! Sick of hearing that answer? The thing is, wine preference is highly personal and as we just mentioned, the same grapes can have a different taste depending on where they are grown. A collector, for example, might care more about originating country than someone who is stocking their home to share wine with guests. What’s important is knowing the tenets of selecting wine and prioritizing what you favour: style, level of sweetness, and primary flavour. These factors are often way more important when choosing a wine than originating country – especially when you are learning and getting a feel for what you enjoy.

Want to learn even more about the different worlds of wine? Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly does a great taste and explains the differences between an old world and new world Pinot Noir:



While “Old World Wine” carries an air of sophistication in its name, it by no means overrides the great wine that can be produced in a “New World Wine” country. We encourage wine drinkers to experiment, be flexible, and have fun in the process of learning what wine works for you. One of the things that makes WineCollective so great is that we allow you to explore new wines without the hassle of guessing at the liquor store. Wine discovery should be fun and exciting! If you want to learn more about the different worlds of wine every month, we encourage you to take a look at our subscription offerings. Happy exploring!