Our Philosophy

The Urban Grape is an award-winning wine, craft beer, and spirits store located in Boston’s vibrant South End neighborhood.

UG is the first store in the world to utilize Progressive Shelving, a unique system of organizing wines by their body, rather than varietal or region. Progressive Shelving allows our staff to help you pick the perfect wine for your palate by encouraging you to explore regions, varietals, producers, and price points all while staying in your wine comfort zone. Discover new wines when you Drink Progressively!

What does it mean to drink progressivley?

We developed the Progressive Scale, a unique way of organizing wine by their body, rather than varietal or region, as a way to help you pick the perfect wine for your palette.

Select a number on the scale to learn more.


Hailing from the coolest alpine and maritime-influenced regions of Europe, including Txacholi, Spain; Minho, Portugal; and Savoie, France, 1W wines are steel-fermented with no oak aging. They’re remarkably light-bodied, with a mouthfeel like skim milk, and have tart, lip-smacking acidity. Common varietals include Hondarrabi Zuri, Alvarinho/Albariño, and Jacquère. Pair these wines with light dishes that have bright acidity.

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2W wines are grown in cool alpine and maritime-influenced European regions like Muscadet and Sancerre, France; and Alto Adige, Italy; and U.S. regions like the Finger Lakes in New York. The wines are fermented in steel, but some see sur lie aging, and are light-bodied with bright acidity. Common varietals include Riesling, Melon de Bourgogne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. They pair beautifully with a wide variety of seafood dishes.

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Influenced by slightly warmer regions such as Tuscany and Campania, Italy; Alsace, France; Willamette Valley, Oregon; and Marlborough, New Zealand, 3W wines are primarily steel-fermented, with some aging in concrete or neutral oak barrels. They resemble 1% milk, show increased fruit and texture, and vibrant acidity. Popular varietals are Vernaccia, Falanghina, Riesling, Pinot Grigio/Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. Spring vegetables and soft, mild cheeses are great pairing options.

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4W wines are a mix of warm and cool climates, including Burgundy and Loire Valley, France; Tuscany, Italy; Columbia Valley, Washington; and Stajerska, Slovenia. Winemakers use techniques like sur lie and skin contact, and neutral barrel or concrete egg aging to enhance body, texture, and complexity. Varietals include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Vermentino, Semillon, and Pinot Grigio. These wines pair well with light pasta dishes and take-out food.

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This section includes mix of cool and warm climates from the most famous regions in the world: Napa Valley, California; Burgundy, France; and Mosel Valley, Germany. The first influence of partial malolactic fermentation and minimal oak aging can be seen, producing wines with softer texture, enhanced fruit, and refreshing acidity that resemble whole milk on the palate. Popular varietals like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling pair well with spicy foods.

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Increased warmth and sunshine in regions like Rhône Valley and Burgundy, France; and Sicily, Italy produce grapes that are then influenced by partial malolactic fermentation and/or oak aging. The resulting wines have a creamy texture and integrated acidity. Varietals include favorites like Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Chardonnay, and lesser known grapes like Carricante and Catarratto. Wonderful with lighter creamy dishes.

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Warm and abundantly sunny Old and New World climates like Rhône Valley and Alsace, France; Rioja, Spain; and Santa Barbara County and Sonoma, California produce grapes that see partial or full malolactic fermentation and a mix of oak aging techniques. The wines have a body like half & half, with ripe fruit flavors, and softer acidity. Common varietals include Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Viura, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer. These wines pair nicely with game meats and earthy vegetables.

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8W is comprised of warm climates with sunny days and cooler nights in regions like Russian River Valley and Carneros, California; Northern Rhône Valley, France; and Columbia Valley and Walla Walla, Washington. Wines see full malolactic fermentation and a variety of oak aging techniques to impart body and creaminess to the wine. Varietals include Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. These wines are delicious with Thanksgiving flavors.

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New World regions like Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands, California; Casablanca Valley, Chile; and Stellenbosch, South Africa see long stretches of warm to hot weather. The resulting wines go through full malolactic fermentation and new oak aging, making them creamy and smooth. Varietals like Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Chenin Blanc are ideal pairings for lobster pizza and BLTs slathered in mayo.

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Valley floor regions like Napa Valley and Santa Maria Valley, California see abundant sunshine and long, hot growing seasons. Full malolactic fermentation and substantial oak aging produce wines that are flavorful and full-bodied with a voluptuous, creamy texture that resembles heavy cream. The primary varietals are Chardonnay and Viognier that easily pair with rich dishes like lobster, fettucine alfredo, and even steak.

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Cool climates like Willamette Valley, Oregon; and Burgundy and Jura, France produce low-tannin grapes that see minimal maceration, primarily carbonic, and mostly stainless steel aging. With little to no oak aging, the wines resemble skim milk, with abundant bright acidity. Famous food-friendly varietals include Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Trousseau. Pair these wines with salty charcuterie and light salads.

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Primarily grown in cool climate regions like Sonoma Coast, California; Burgundy and Loire Valley, France; Willamette Valley, Oregon; and Piedmont, Italy, these wines have a short maceration time followed by primarily steel or cement fermentation. The wines are light-bodied, tart, and acidic. Varietals include Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, and Dolcetto. Savory herbs and tomatoes pair wonderfully with these wines.

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Temperate Old and New World climates in regions such as Burgundy, France; Willamette Valley, Oregon; Anderson Valley and Russian River Valley, California; and Etna and Piedmont, Italy encourage further ripening of grapes. Cooler climates rely on longer maceration and light barrel aging; warmer climates use cement or stainless steel. The wines resemble 1% milk and have juicy ripe fruit and vibrant acidity. Varietals include Pinot Noir, Nerello Mascalese, and Barbera. Pair these wines with grilled seafood, salty capers, and olives.

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4R sees a mix of cool and temperate climates, and alpine and maritime influence in regions like Piedmont, Italy; Carneros and Russian River Valley, California; Bordeaux, Loire Valley, and Rhône Valley, France. Production techniques depend on the grape and climate; a variety of maceration times are used, as are stainless steel or oak aging. The wines resemble 2% milk, with ripe fruit, balanced acid, and subtle tannins. Varietals like Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese pair with cured meats and grilled vegetables.

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Temperate climates in regions like Tuscany and Sicily, Italy; Rhône Valley and Bordeaux, France; and Casablanca, Chile see a range of warmth and sunshine. Grapes see longer maceration and are primarily aged in a combination of new and used oak barrels. The wines have structured tannins and a medium body like whole milk. Varietals such as Sangiovese, Nero D’Avola, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Carmenere are cellar-worthy, and pair nicely with braised meats and earthy vegetables.

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6R is mostly made up of warmer climates in regions such as Tuscany, Italy; Rioja, Spain; Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and St. Joseph, France; and Douro Valley, Portugal. Longer periods of oak aging techniques add structured wood tannins to the wine. Blends made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, as well as varietals like Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Touriga Nacional produce food and palate-friendly wines that pair best with regional dishes from the same provenance.

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This section includes drier, sunnier climates in regions like Napa and Sonoma, California; Columbia Valley, Washington; Bandol, France; Ribera del Duero, Spain; and Mendoza, Argentina. These wines see longer maceration and barrel fermentation, and can be aged in new oak barrels. They are bold wines with ripe fruit and integrated tannins and a body like half & half. Varietals include Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Malbec. They pair with a variety of savory dishes, including braised meats.

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Regions like Toro, Spain; Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California; McClaren Vale, Australia; Languedoc-Roussillon, France; and Puglia, Italy see warm, sunny days, dry conditions, and long growing seasons. These wines are are aged for longer periods of time in mostly new oak barrels and have abundant fruit, less acid, and over smoother tannins. Common varietals include Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Negroamaro. Pair them with meat and potato dishes.

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9R is mostly comprised of New World climates like Napa Valley and Dry Creek Valley, California; Walla Walla, Washington; Barossa Valley, Australia; Campania and Veneto, Italy; and Mendoza, Argentina that are warm to hot, and have arid growing conditions. The resulting wines are juicy, jammy, richly tannic, and full-bodied. Popular varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Aglianico, Corvina and Merlot. The wines are best paired with thick, juicy steaks.

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Hot, sunny, and arid growing regions like Walla Walla, Washington; Barossa Valley, Australia; Napa Valley, California; and Veneto, Italy are found in the 10R section. The wines are fermented and aged in new oak barrels for maximum impact. These are the heaviest bodied wines, with a thick and jammy mouthfeel resembling heavy cream. The wines are made from Syrah/Shiraz, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Corvina. While they don’t always need food, they do pair well with barbecue and umami flavors.

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What's Your Number?

Join us for one of our weekly tastings and find out.

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What is the Progressive Scale?

At The Urban Grape, we use a 1-10 weighting system that measures the body of the wine. One is the lightest-bodied wine we carry, our “skim milk.” Things progressively build in body to 5, our “whole milk.” We cap everything off at 10, our “heavy cream.” We do this twice: IW to 10W for white wines, and 1R to 10R for red wines.

What’s With the Milk Analogy?

We can’t take credit for that one! The milk analogy was developed by world-renowned wine educator Kevin Zraly. All of us know the difference between skim milk, whole milk, and heavy cream, so using this reference point makes it easier for our customers to understand differing wine weights as well.

Why Did UG Develop the Progressive Scale?

The Progressive Scale helps you, the wine buyer and drinker, find wines that are best suited to your palate, and can help you demystify food and wine pairings. Click through the icons above to see the general characteristics of each section of the Progressive Scale!