ABC’s of picking a good bottle for a wine newbie

Speed date with wine – The swirl, the sniff and the sip…

Walking down the aisle of a grocery store or a liquor store, you are bound to reach a wine aisle. Scanning it, overwhelm is an emotion that will engulf you if you are anything new to the world of wine. All the shapes of the bottles, the colors, the fancy illustration of castles and kangaroos and exotic lands…and to top it off, the varieties! Riesling, Shiraz, Sauvignon – now that’s some serious business! You look left and you see wines that cost $12 and you look right, only to find one that costs $40. Arrghh…with so many factors, which one should you pick?

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You think back to all the times you have seen people sipping on wines in movies, holding it up across the light, swirling it around and speaking in wine lingo and you end up thinking wine is a complicated elixir!

Don’t be disheartened though. We, as French and apparent connoisseurs of wine could offer you some advice. You don’t need to be an experienced wine taster to be able to enjoy and choose a good wine. After all, everyone begins as a newbie.

Good wine is neither expensive, nor old. The general rule of swirl, sniff and sip works is great to begin with. The other ways to choose follow on…

If you like it, it’s good for you and that’s good enough

wine-silhouette-like-good-drinkWine is flavorful, playful, fruity, sweet, dry and list is never ending. Preferences of wine differ from person to person. After the initial inspections, the true test of whether a wine will be good or not is what happens when the wine is in the mouth.

Yes, wine experts say that the wine tasting is in the smell of wine. And although you get a lot of what the wine could be in the smell, true justice happens when the taste comes into place. So, try different wine to begin with and remember “a liked wine = a good wine for you”.

Check out the backside

Don’t fall for the fancy illustrations up front. Check out the back label, so you can have an idea about the full package before you buy it. Fruits, regions, aging process and a few other finer wine secrets may be well hidden on that backside. Awards and reviews make for a good wine as well. And then of course, when in doubt ask for recommendations.

Tongue twister

Remember when you first learned about writing an essay or short story? Every good piece of writing has to have a beginning, middle and an end. Apply your knowledge.

You know a good wine when the wine is in your mouth sloshing around. Try to read if the wine has a beginning, middle and an end – use your tongue to do the reading. What is the first flavor you feel? As the wine sloshes in your mouth, does the flavor change? After swallowing the wine, does the flavor change and linger around in your mouth? If the wine’s fruit flavors dance around your tongue and the finish lingers on as well, you’ve found yourself a winner!

Can I have your number please?

wine-number-vintage2005 Bordeaux, 2010 Columbia Valley…don’t let the numbers throw you off!  The vintage year on a wine label is the harvest year of the grapes from which the wine was made. The characteristics of the year are determined by the weather conditions and the grape crop of the year. So, old wine may not necessarily be a better wine. Do some homework before you buy, particularly if you are trying a new region, since the age may not be worth your taste buds and cash!

Screw it!

Don’t shy away from a screw cap bottle of wine. A screw cap doesn’t mean a cheap or bad wine – the winery is in fact committed to quality. Corked wines are known to be cork-tainted and undrinkable in many cases.
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So, what are you waiting for! It’s time you tried that speed date after all!

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