How to choose?The world of wine can be a complex and intimidating place to the uninitiated, but don’t worry: we’ve got you covered with a few rules of thumb that will help you choose from our wide range from more than 100 wines
Know what you’re eatingWhen pairing wines with food, you don’t need to drill down to the level of the fine nuances to make an informed choice. All you need are a few simple pairing rules.
The most important thing to remember is to pair light wines with lighter foods, such as fish, chicken and creamy sauces, and match full-bodied wines with bolder foods, such as beef, game and tomato-based pasta sauces.
Traditionally, this rule has been simplified: white wines with fish and chicken and some pork, and reds with beef and game. That’s a good rule of thumb to follow for the beginner, but with a bit of experience, you’ll find you can break this rule a little — some nice light-bodied reds pair very well with fish and chicken, for example.
If spicy foods are on the menu, go for a sweeter wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Grigio. If you want a wine just for sipping, Pinot Noir and Cabernets tend to be most accessible. Finally, if it’s a white you’re after, try a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling.
Pick a regionBecause soil conditions significantly affect the taste of grapes, a wine’s country of origin is critical to its flavour. That means that a French white can be radically different from an Italian, for example.
If you face a choice between old-world and new-world wines, play it safe and go old-world. Countries such as France, Italy and Germany have produced wines for countless years. It’s a safe bet to assume that the winemakers there have perfected their processes.
This, of course, is not to say that wines from South America or Africa aren’t good. They, and many other new-world producers such as the United States and Australia, make excellent bottles.
Narrow down to a varietalVarietal is one of those wine words that confuses and intimidates. The word describes a wine made from a single grape variety, and the varietal tells you a lot about what’s in the bottle.
A quick glossary:
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full, rich red wine that goes well with heavier foods such as red meats, game and tomato-based pasta sauces;
Pinot Noir is usually softer than Cabernets, with similar characteristics; Merlot is one of the lighter reds, and it’s very popular;
Zinfandel is a strong red that’s a Californian specialty;
Syrah is one of the biggest reds
Chardonnay is an elegant white with a nice buttery taste, and pairs well with chicken and creamy pasta sauces;
Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp white, great for sipping on summer days and pairing with fish;
Riesling is a sweeter white
Pick a yearContrary to popular belief, age isn’t everything when it comes to choosing a wine. While some bottles improve with age, not all do.
When someone talks about a wine’s vintage, they mean only the year in which the wine was produced. Not surprisingly, weather conditions affect grape qualities and output to varying degrees. As a result, some vintages are better than others.
Most red wines improve with a bit of aging. Usually, wineries don’t release their reds until the bottles have aged for two years.
On the other hand, most whites and sparkling wines don’t need aging. They’re ready to drink right away and can worsen if they’re cellared.