5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wine
Choosing a wine can be hard for the standard wine consumer who enjoys a wine but is in no way a connoisseur. The unfamiliar and often confusing language used by experts to describe wine can also make it harder. Research has shown that the average wine drinker has no idea what the taste and aromas described on a label or a menu mean, and it can deter them from purchasing wine altogether. Or people end up choosing the cheapest option because the label is simpler and it’s less risky. The problem is that cheaper wine can often be mass-produced and doesn’t compare to handcrafted wine in taste or quality. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a wine to help you make an informed decision on your next purchase.
Most people know if they prefer red or white wine, sparkling or rosé, but all the different varieties of these can become confusing. You might prefer white over red, but how do you know which white to choose? The easiest way is to experiment. Try a range of different varieties and take note of the characteristics. If you need a quick solution, the best thing to do is research the flavours and aromas of each and see what appeals to you.
Do you prefer more fruity flavours or a savoury, earthy taste? Do you have a sweet tooth and prefer sweeter wine over dry? Do you like a more light and fresh style or a more intense and full-bodied wine? While it’s not always the case, your preferences here can usually be applied to other varieties. For example, if you like light-bodied, fruit driven white wine, there is a good chance you will prefer reds of a similar flavour. The important thing is to keep trying new varieties because your tastes can change and mature over time and what you liked when you first started drinking wine might be different to later in your wine journey.
Once you have determined the type of wine you enjoy, it is a good idea to consider the price you are prepared to pay for it. There is a misconception that expensive wine will be far better than anything cheaper. While clearly this can be the case, there are also many instances where the quality of wine is not always congruent with the price. Wine can be more expensive because of factors such as the region it came from or the brand name of the producer.
My tip would be to have a price range you are willing to spend and find a wine that you know is from a winery. Often mass-produced wine you find in supermarket liquor stores have a label designed to make it look like it’s from a winery but it’s their own brand. Read more here. I enjoy wine from smaller, boutique wineries where the wine is handcrafted but still very reasonably priced.
So, should price be a factor in selecting a wine? Absolutely but as a budget not a guideline for quality. If you’re looking for a cheap, quality wine at a supermarket liquor store, you will be disappointed. My advice would be to buy direct from a winery or through a direct purchasing channel. This will ensure you get the best quality wine for your budget.
Food pairing shouldn’t be the make or break of your wine choice. That is unless you’re doing a seven-course degustation and trying to match wines. However, there is no debating that matching your food to your wine can bring about incredible flavours. If you do choose to consider which wine will go with your food, a simple rule to follow is white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. This is definitely not always the case but it’s a good place to start. The best tip is to be prepared and do some research before you buy. There is a wealth of information online and you can also check out some great food and wine pairings here.
While there are no hard and fast rules about which wine you should drink on which occasion, personally I think certain occasions call for a particular type of wine. Champagne or sparkling wine are perfect when celebrating, particularly at weddings. Red wine is amazing on a cold day by the fire and rosé goes perfectly on a sunny day outside. A chilled white wine with spicy Asian food is also a personal favourite. You should really just choose what you like, but it can be helpful to consider which wine you will enjoy most on which occasion.
Why consider the region when choosing a wine? Simply put, different grape varieties grow better or worse depending on the climate and landscape of the region. Although there are exceptions, choosing the right region for your variety can make a huge difference to the quality of wine. The best idea is to do some research on the region most regarded for the variety you enjoy. Once you understand why that region specialises in it, this will help for future choices. For example, cool climate regions like the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley produce excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir because they have the ideal climate for growing these grapes. Knowing this, next time you are buying Chardonnay, you will know to consider buying from another cool climate region like the Adelaide Hills or Tasmania.
EXPERIMENT AND ENJOY...
At the end of the day, if you are buying wine from one of the many amazing wineries producing exceptional wine in Australia, there is a good chance you will enjoy it. Wine should be part of an exploration of taste and it’s important to keep learning and finding new wines you enjoy. I know my taste has changed over time and I’m loving finding a whole new range of varieties that had previously never appealed to me. There are also some really great alternative varieties coming out of Australia, so my advice would be to stay open and willing to experiment. Each winemaker will leave their little touch on the wine and so does mother nature so enjoy.