Sampling wines you see on the grocery store shelves can be a disappointing experience. There are so many choices and you can only look at a $20 bottle for so long before you give it a swirl. As you open your bottle of grape juice, twist out the cork and smell the aroma of your newly purchased beverage, do you really know what you are getting into? Just because it’s $20, does not mean you will like it or that it’s a good bottle. How do you create and make distinctions and find out what wine you truly enjoy?
Ten tips to help you discover wines you love and how to enjoy.
1. Find a wine retail shop that’s in your neighborhood. Go to Google and start exploring.
2. Get to know the guy behind the counter. He loves wine! His job is to sell you the wine of your dreams. He wants you to be happy with your purchase. He knows that when you want another bottle to try, you will come back. Tell him you want to discover wines that you like and he can point you in the direction. You cannot assume all Pinot Noir is created equal because it’s not.
3. Wine clubs on the Internet? Wait until you know a little more about what terroir, regions, vintages, laws of the bottle, how wine shipments work, and the source of the distribution center. After you visit a winery or you two, you will find what your palate likes and dislikes. Small wineries throughout the country offer memberships and they UPS directly to your house.
4. Do not purchase wine in summer. Red wines should be kept between 43 and 58 degrees and the UPS truck and warehouse reach well over 90 degrees. Don’t be surprised if that bottle of wine turns into a bottle of vinegar.
5. Why screw top wine? Corked wines happens. Using a screw cap on wines reduces corkage. When an air pocket gets between the cork and the wine after being rested on its side, the cork can begin to deteriorate if the wine is not in contact directly with the cork. Over time the present air in a bottle will destroy the juice. If a bottle is not stored properly while aging, this can happen. One in 1000 bottles are corked. This means the wine has turned, but it can be caused from numerous situations. Screw tops minimize error in the industry.
6. If you like it buy a case. After spending numerous hours, days and weeks tasting wine, your appreciation will rise as you find that bottle that you’ve been looking for. A 2006 Meritage blend is going to be different the next year. Weather, Brix (how the sugar of the grapes is measured), what the wine maker is feeling that day, and so many more variables effect the outcome of this juice.
7. What is table wine? 10-11.5 percent. California has this thing for making wines 14% and 15 %. Why? A brand and a style. Napa needed to make wine that was accepted and recognized while being unique and creative. Table wine is for everyday drinking. In France, wine is part of the everyday routine, kids water glasses receive a couple drops of red wine, just enough to change the color. Wine is part of the dinner table.
8. What do I pair with wine? Whatever you want. This is one of those great hobbies that you are in charge of. If you want to try it then change it, and re-try it an hour later – you can. Wine changes from the time the bottle is open to the time the bottle is empty. See if you can notice the change, it will take time.
9. What do you smell for in wine? I look for 3 categories when I stick my nose into a glass. Fruit, earth and wood. How the grapes are grown add depth, tastes, smells and can reminisce experiences from your past such as when you are a child running along a creek bed and fresh water is streaming over rocks with honeysuckle blossoms in the background. Try a Pinot Grigio from Australia and tell me that picture is painted perfect. It’s amazing what your senses can do and wine is one way to enjoy them.
10. How long can I hold a bottle of wine for before it goes bad? It depends how much has been consumed, and how it is being stored. If half a bottle of red wine is left over after 3 days, I turn it into sangria.