Have you ever stood in a supermarket aisle staring at row after row of wine, wondering which bottle you should purchase? We’ve all been there. Here are some quick tips on how to pick the “right” wine.
Know that the old adage of serving white wine with white meat and red with red meat is too simplistic. In general, enjoy your favorite wine with your favorite food but the key is to select wine based on the “weight” and texture of the meal. Heavier meals and sauces require bigger wine to match their weight and lighter meals and sauces will require lighter and more subtle wines.
Here are some tips:
- Match wines with the meal (from heavy weight to light) you can select from Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Piedmont (northern Italians), Bordeaux blends, Tuscan wines like Chianti (from Italy), Merlot, Pinot Noir, Burgundy wines, California chardonnay, white french wines, sauvignon blancs.
- Spicy foods go better with slightly sweeter wines like Sancerre (France), Sauvignon Blanc (especially good from New Zealand), Gewuertztraminer (Germany and California), and Pinot Grigio (Italy and California).
- Despite what people have you believe, chocolate may pair wonderfully with dry Cabernets.
- Champagne tastes much better if you pay at least $20 for it and it goes well with delicate and subtle textured foods.
Do your homework. If you want a bottle of wine for a special occasion, there are websites where you can research the type of wine you are looking for. Winespectator.com is one good source. Read the reviews and ratings to see if a wine stands out that you might want to try.
Keep track of good wines you drink. Write down the name of the winery, varietal, and Country of Origin. If sampling wine at the tasting room of a winery, they will usually let you have a copy of the wines you are tasting and their descriptions. Make note of your favorites.
Get assistance. The employee of a shop specializing in wine is usually knowledgeable about the wine they stock. Describe what kind of wine you want and you should get a reliable recommendation.
Select a wine by its rating. Stores will often post the rating of wines that are highly rated. Everyone has different taste in wines, but at least you know that someone enjoyed the wine if it has a high rating. A rating of 90 or more is excellent. Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate are two of the more common rating services. Be aware that most wines are never entered in competitions so you do miss some great wines if you only purchase wines based on their ratings.
- Experimenting is fun and much more interesting than drinking the same wine day after day.
- Don’t worry about vintage until you know a lot. Even in Bad years good wines are made, and even in great years terrible wines are made. Always ask questions.
- Always try a wine you don’t recognize. Unless you like the same food every night, it doesn’t make sense to have the same wine every night. Wine is fun and there a literally millions of different wines to choose from. Use wine as a tool to explore the world!
- Don’t select the wine because you like the label, please!!!
- Realize that in this age of modern wine making technology, there are many more good wines than bad wines on retail shelves.
- Wine and Food Pairings & Food and Wine Pairings (potterybarn.com)
- 6 Delicious White Wines To Drink Instead Of Sauvignon Blanc (buzzfeed.com)
- Wine and food Pairing: A Primer (redenvelope.com)