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Last Updated on July 28, 2021
When you walk into a specialty store, the selection of wines can be overwhelming. With row after row of different labels, it can be difficult to know which to choose. Many people get distracted by sophisticated labels or cutesy names. Others just end up with a headache trying to decide what’s worth the price. However, choosing a wine is simpler than you might think.
Let’s review five essential tips for how to select a wine. As you learn more and more about wine, it will become easier and more accessible.
- Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better
Just as with any product, a higher price doesn’t necessarily correspond to better quality. Many delicious wines are moderately priced or even inexpensive.
A lot of people waste a good deal of money buying wine according to the price. They want a cheap bottle for a night at home and an expensive one for a dinner party. However, with this strategy, you’re unlikely to buy what you enjoy.
Instead of focusing on the price of a wine, you should focus on the taste of the wine. You should make your pick based on its flavor profiles. Better winery websites will tell you about how they grow their grapes. As you cruise the aisles, you can use your phone to read about the San Bernabe vineyard that produced a California wine that interests you.
- Read the Label
Don’t just read it; understand what you’re reading! Even if you’re new to wine and don’t yet have a good idea of what you like, digesting the labels along with the wine itself will help you learn about your preferences.
You may want to keep a record of the wines you drink as well as tasting notes. Expressing your taste and olfactory sensations in words also helps them stick in your mind better.
One final note: as much fun as it can be, don’t make your decision based on the label’s appearance, but rather be sure you choose based on what it says, such as age, flavor notes, and level of dryness.
- Ask the Experts (And Know What You Want)
As you educate yourself about wine, learn the best terms to describe it. That will help you communicate effectively with sommeliers and the experts staffed at wineries you visit.
In addition, many liquor stores display labels that describe wines using language such as “body,” “tannins,” and “oaky.” If you don’t know how those words translate to flavor, you’ll have a hard time utilizing those descriptions to help you choose a wine.
- Tailor Your Choice to the Occasion
Even your all-time favorite wine isn’t best for every occasion. To tailor wine to an occasion, you need to know three things: who will drink the wine you’re buying, when they will drink it, and what they will eat with it.
It will help if you start looking for different elements when bringing a bottle of wine to a crowd. What type of people will be there? Is it a big crowd with widely varying tastes or a small crowd with similar tastes? What time of day will they be drinking? Cocktail hour? After dinner drinks?
Then there’s what they will eat with the wine. Being able to pair wine with food is a skill that comes with time. It’s equal parts knowing what you like and knowing what flavor profiles work best. If you know the menu, do a quick search to see what chefs recommend pairing with those foods.
- Be Adventurous
Many people find a standard type or even label of wine that they like and then stick with it all the time. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t expand your knowledge of wine.
The best thing you can do to learn about wine and choose the right wine is to continue being curious and adventurous with your selections. As you do that, keeping notes on the wines you taste can help you evaluate your taste preferences.