How to choose wines!
Who this is for
This guide is for you if you have been into a bar or fancy restaurant and found yourself fumbling through the wine menu and not understanding the difference between the items, and you end up ordering one based on price instead (we've been there too!)
This guide will equip you with the necessary basic knowledge to kickstart your wine journey. Here are the topics the guide covers:
- Types of grapes used
- Different wine regions
- Best food pairings for wines
For starters, it's important to throw away the notion that an the more expensive a wine is, the better you will enjoy it. That is not true. For wines, its enjoyability depends on the individual's preferences.
If you didn't already know, wines are made of grapes and these are what influences the primary flavors of the wine.
Some factors that affect the grapes and ultimately the flavor of the wine are:
- Type of grape
- Ripeness of the grape during harvest
- The environment where they are grown
In general, red wines and white wines have a range of fruit flavors that it can taste like.
For red wines, you can expect fruit flavors like:
- Red fruits (plum, raspberry, strawberry)
- Black fruits (black berry, blackcurrant, black plum)
- Spices (black pepper, liquorice)
- Herbs & vegetal (bell pepper, mint, dried herbs)
For white wines, you can expect fruit flavors like:
- Green fruits (apple, pear)
- Stone fruits (peach, apricot)
- Tropical fruits (banana, lychee, melon, pineapple)
- Floral and vegetal (bell pepper, grass, asparagus)
The fruits flavors that you can detect in wines does not mean that it was made with those ingredients (bell peppers and bananas were definitely not used to make wine!). These flavors developed as part of a chemical reaction that the wine goes through as it continues to age and our brain relates and associates these aromas with something similar.
The region where the grapes are grown also affects the flavors that you experience.
The climate of the region has a heavy influence on the flavor profile. If a grape of the same variety were grown in different climates, the taste will differ greatly from each other.
When a Chardonnay is grown in a cooler region like Burgundy, France, the wine will generally have a lighter body and the green fruit and citrus fruit flavors will be more prominent.
When the same Chardonnay is grown in a warmer region like Langhe, Italy, the wine will be more full bodied and the flavors that take centerstage will be those of stone fruits (peach, mango) and tropical fruits (passion fruit, pineapple).
Old world vs New world
You may have heard of the term old world wines and new world wines and wonder what it meant. In short, these terms are used to categorize the regions where the wines originate from and the style of the wine.
Old world wines are those from the European regions such as France, Italy, Spain etc.
New world wines are those from America, Australia, New Zealand etc.
A general rule of thumb to note is that old world wines tend to have a lighter body and more delicate aromas whilst new world wines are much bolder in their expression of the fruits' flavors and tend to have stronger aromas. This is a broad generalization and each wine maker tend to have their own style and wine making technique which can also influence the taste of the end product.
A good wine pairing can elevate an entire meal experience. Wine pairing is subjective, every individual will have different preferences; what pairs well for one may not be enjoyed by another. However, there are certain pairings and taste interactions that can be considered!
Here are some interactions between wine and food that you may consider:
- When your food is sweet, your wine will taste more bitter and drying
- When your food is salty, your wine will taste less bitter and drying
- When your food is acidic, your wine will taste sweeter
- When your food is hot and spicy, the alcohol in the wine will be more pronounced
There are certain wine and food pairings that are tried and true that you can lean back on if you need some help! Here they are:
- Cabernet and Red Meat
- Chardonnay and Salmon
- Pinot Noir and Earthy dishes
- Pinot Grigio and Seafood
- Rosé and Cheesy Dishes
- Sparkling Wines and Salty Flavors
- Sauvignon Blanc and Tarts
- Riesling and Sweet, Spicy Flavors
- Zinfandel and Rich foods
- Syrah and Spicy dishes
Generally, red wines pair well with red meats and fatty, hearty dishes. White wines pairs well with lighter flavors like for fish and poultry. Of course, if you need a more specific pairing, you can refer to the abovementioned list!
With that, we have come to the end of our wine guide! Hope that you were able to learn something new through this blog.
Do stay tuned to our ever expanding wine collection and we will continue seeking out rare and underrated wines and bringing them to the local audience!
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