Wine 101: The Basics of Choosing Wine

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Many of us enjoy a tipple every now and then, and many of us enjoy a good wine. Some of us take more time in choosing the perfect vintage, while others consider price over quality. It can be said that we are a nation of wine lovers. Carefully selecting the perfect bouquet to enjoy with a meal, or whether it is a small glass (or bottle) relaxing in front of the television after a long day at work. Wine is to be enjoyed.

The thing is, many of us are not too au fait with what wine tastes better with what dish or the differences between sweet, dry and fruity. It seems that we may need a little ‘Wine 101’.

Reading the Label:

Reading the label can be incredibly difficult if you are a wine novice. Very much like a book, you should never judge a wine by its cover. If a wine has a funky label, it does not automatically mean it is going to be a good wine. That said, some of the premium wine brands do have incredibly pretty labels, so you can be forgiven for judging a wine on its looks alone.

When reading the label, look at the wines place of origin. Some labels are broad, others are more specific. Likewise, spotting the producer of the wine is vitally important. After all, like with most things we consume, some producers are simply better than others.

Stick with the Classics:

If in doubt, stick with the nine classic wines:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon

These are typically considered the classic wines by experts and can be enjoyed with a wide variety of foods. If you are still in doubt, try Chardonnay. It is the world’s most popular wine and has been for decades. You can buy chardonnay online for you to try, should you not feel comfortable purchasing wines that you know little about in store. After all, all those people cannot be wrong!

Once you have developed your taste for the classics, there is nothing wrong with broadening your pallet more widely.

Wine Scale:

Wine scales are usually located in stores to help buyers purchase the right kind of wine for them. However, the perceived taste of a wine can be different from the wine scale. Alcohol content, carbon-dioxide content, acidity, tannin levels and the serving temperature can all affect how wine tastes. After all, everyone’s palette is different.

Winemakers endeavour to produce a balance in the wine by managing the alcohol, acidity and tannin. However it is nature that determines the taste of a good wine. Wine with a sweetness code of zero would have a moderately low amount of residual sugar, but high alcohol content may make it taste sweeter. Likewise, a wine with a high sweetness code (signalling high amounts of residual sugar) could taste dry when the acidity is high. Ultimately, it is down to the individual tastes of those drinking wine.

Wine is to be enjoyed by all, so leave your reservations and preconceptions at the door and try something new.

Sarah Pinkerton

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