Where do you start when trying to explain the vast world of wine? There is so much information and so many bottles to chose from. How do you choose your wine when at the liquor store? I am still learning everyday on what makes a good wine and where my money is best spent. I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out, so for now I stick to a few basic facts and go from there.
Having been to wineries in the United States, Canada and South Africa I usually choose from one of those 3 regions, as I have been educated at the wineries on growing conditions and how a certain varietal will taste from that particular region. If you haven’t been to a wine region then your best bet is to go to a wine store and ask the staff for some advice. Chances are any one working in a wine shop will have lot of passion for wine. If you like a certain wine now use that as a reference and describe why you like it. Do you like the dryness? The sharp after taste? The sweetness, the bitterness? Every one is different so there is no right or wrong. You will likely already know if you prefer red to white as well. So for example you figure you like red wine with a heavy or smoky finish, then tell them that and it’s a place to start. I enjoy heavy reds most of the time so I am always looking for a good Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec. My wife enjoys more fruit forward reds or a white. We can both agree on a good Pinot Noir most days, which is a good happy medium. Almost every time we are in a wine store we ask the staff for recommendation as they have tried most of the stocked wines, we haven’t really been disappointed yet.
A couple things to note when buying a wine is that most of the popular wines sold in liquor stores are mass produced and terrible. They may be from Canada, Argentina or the US but to make them so cheap they use the minimum amount of grapes from the labeled winery and buy cheap grapes that didn’t make the cut from usually Chile or somewhere to fill the rest. They also add a lot of sugars to these wines to make them easy drinking. This is common in all my posts about alcoholic beverages. If they are cheap and mass produced then they are usually manipulated in a bad way so they can sell them at a fast rate with a good marketing plan. A couple examples are Yellow tail, Mc Williamson, Naked Grape etc.
This does not mean that all good wine has to be expensive; I have a few go-to wines that are around $12 a bottle. It is often considered that the older the wine the better or more expensive, when in fact a lot of wines are not produced to be aged much more than a few years. The wines that are meant to be aged 10-20 years usually come at a high price tag and are from France or Italy (old world wineries) and you wouldn’t accidently pick one of these out - they will be sought after by wine snobs. I have found that an aged wine will also need to be decanted (this is letting the wine breathe out of the bottle in a decanter) for about an hour to bring out the real taste. A good heavy red from Italy like an Amarone will also need to be decanted so if you don’t have one it’s a good investment. Check out Willow park liquor store on MacLeod trail, BIN 905 and Wine Ink on 17th ave for details on wine tastings which is another great way to discover what you want in a wine and what you are getting out of it.
Here are some note worthy inexpensive wines that I enjoy:
Wolftrap (South Africa) Syrah, Beyerskloof (South Africa) Pinotage, Sledge Hammer (California) Zinfadel. St. Supery (California) Sauvignon blanc, 7 deadly Zins (California) Sebastiani (California) Pinot Noir