Wine is one of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you spend a fortune on a bottle or just buy what’s on offer, there is one for everyone. But do you know your viognier from your zinfandel? Do you know how to taste or select a wine? Does the sight of a wine list send shivers down your spine? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re in the right place, as our beginners guide to choose wine was written with you in mind!
How to taste wine
You have probably seen sommeliers taste a glass of wine and written it off as pretentious. But there is a method in their madness. The four step wine tasting method is used across the world. We bet you could learn it too.
The four steps are, look, smell, taste and conclude. Look at the colour, opacity and viscosity. Smell at least two flavours and then taste two elements. Many wines may contain more, but all contain at least two. Finally, conclude your thoughts by assessing whether you like it and whether it tastes balanced or not.
Wine is divided into red and white and then further subdivided into varietals. A varietal is the type of grape used in the manufacture. Some use a single varietal, others use a couple, while others use a blend of multiple varietals. Once you know your grapes, it’s useful to learn about the regions from which they come.
Wine is unique in that it can be paired with a particular dish to make a match made in heaven. It is quite an involved process that requires more space than we have in our beginner’s guide to choosing wine.
The price is right
Wine is one of the few areas where the more you spend, the more you get in terms of quality. It isn’t always guaranteed, but generally the more you spend the better it is.
The wine label
Wine labelling is part art and part science. Winemakers are very selective about what they tell you and use marketing to their advantage as much as any manufacturer. The quality of the label may not bear any resemblance to the quality, so let the buyer beware. This guide on deciphering wine labels is a very useful resource.
Depending on how involved you want to get, there is an entire science of how to serve wine. It includes temperature, glasses to use, methods of pouring and more. However, we think the most important thing for a beginner to get right is the temperature, as a good wine will taste good whether you drink it from crystal or from a bargain glass!
Wine is a huge subject but we hope this beginner’s guide has given you the resources you need to enjoy it more!