How To Choose The Right Wine?
A Quick and Dirty Guide
How To Choose The Right Wine?
You enjoy a good glass of wine, but you feel overwhelmed, even bewildered, when shopping for a good bottle.
There are some simple ways to get your bearings and become a more empowered wine buyer, starting with these basic rules to help you choose the right wine type every time. Most importantly, remember to trust your taste.
Ordering wine at a restaurant should be a straightforward process, but in reality, it often isn’t. Besides the basic question of red or white, you need to choose the type of grape, the level of quality (vs. price), and the region for the wine. Some essential characteristics that define each wine variety can be helpful when you need to buy a bottle.
The following tips may help you pick a good bottle of wine and help you combine it with specific dishes:
White or Red?
Traditionally, red goes with meat and white with fish or fowl. However, this isn’t too much help because of all the different kinds of wine on the market. More wisely is to choose by using the rule of thumb of the heavier the food, the heavier the wine should be.
The subjective process of choosing a particular wine depends on each person’s definition of good wine, and of course, according to their taste buds. Preferences vary from delicate to bold, sweet, tart, or spicy, but it is always possible to find a wine you will love.
Combine with Food
Suppose you have lighter foods, select lighter-bodied wines. Heartier dishes go with more full-bodied wines. A heavier wine will overpower a delicate dish, and a lighter wine won’t even be felt with a heavier dish.
Consider how the dish is prepared (grilled, fried, roasted, etc.) and the type of sauce or spice used. A sweeter sauce needs a more delicate wine than one that has a zesty flavor. Wine by itself tastes different than wine with food, and you want to find some balance between the two so that neither one overpowers the other.
Types of Food
Sweet foods like a honey mustard glaze or teriyaki will go well with off-dry wines to balance the flavor because the sweet sauce makes the wine seem even drier.
Acidic foods like salads or certain appetizers or even fish served with lemon go well with wines a bit higher in acid — not too acidic, though. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir are all good choices.
Big tannin red wines will go great with steak or lamb chops, as the fat in the meat tones down the wine’s bitterness — a good choice would be a Rioja, a Chianti, or a Syrah.
When you look at a bottle of wine, you want to become familiar with the type of grape used, the year, and the estate; you want to know where the wine is coming from. Estate is used to designate grapes from the wine maker’s vineyards. Reserve should indicate a wine maker’s best product, but it’s often an over-used term. Cuvée means the wine comes from many different base wines.
The Basics of Good Wine
When you’re ready to taste your selection, start by paying attention to how it feels in your mouth. A full-bodied wine is heavy and rich, while a light-bodied one is feathery. The wine may also feel silky or dense. It can taste earthy (meaning you can almost savor the rich soil of the vineyard), fruity, sweet (due to the presence of sugar), dry or oaky with a vanilla toasty flavor, which comes from aging the wine in oak barrels (like Chardonnay).
The aftertaste or ‘finish’ is just as important. Does the flavor of the wine last for a long time? (The longer it lasts, the better the quality of the wine.) Is it bitter or sweet?
The most used terms on wine labels are sweet, semi-sweet, or dry. A dry wine is not sweet at all.
Wines with high acidity will be more tart, whereas low-acidity wines will taste rounder or richer.
The phenolic compounds in the skins of grapes are called tannins. When tannins are naturally present or added through aging in the winemaking process, the wine will have a more bitter taste. As tannins also tend to dry out your mouth, the tannin level is often confused with the “dryness” of a wine, which actually refers to how sweet or not sweet a wine is. The red winemaking process incorporates more tannins, often giving red wines a distinctively dry and bitter finish.
We characterize wines as being light-bodied, full-bodied, or somewhere in between. The body of the wine refers to how light or heavy the sensation in your mouth is. Generally speaking, red wines have a fuller body than whites and wines made from grapes grown in southern regions.
The percentage of alcohol is measured by volume (ABV). Regularly, wines contain 11 to 13 percent alcohol. The true range can be from 5.5 percent (cider) up to 20 percent (port, sherry).
Everyone will have different likings for each of these characteristics of wine, but you can find a bottle that satisfies your taste preferences with the right pointers.
In a restaurant, never choose the second cheapest wine on the menu. It’s usually the same quality as the cheapest one but at a higher price. Restaurants know that you don’t want to look cheap, so watch out for that trick.
Trust your Taste
You know a bad coffee from a good one, and it’s the same with wine.
Once in a Lifetime
One bottle of wine everyone should try at least once in a lifetime is a Barolo from Italy.