I’m making a confession to everyone on the internet: I love to drink wine, but I have only just learnt about everything to do with wine, how to pick it, and how to enjoy it at it’s best.
All these years of sipping the stuff, but never really having much clue about it, have now resulted in me taking a huge wine interest.
But it’s taken me a while to appreciate it and learn how to love wine that little bit more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve aimlessly wandered the wine aisle, hoping something would literally leap off the shelf into my basket. In fact, after extensive time spent skimming labels, percentages and country’s, I used to just select my bottle based on which logo I like best.
Over the past couple of years – since I turned 30 – I decided to take more of an interest in what I was supping and why. Wine is a huge enjoyment to me, so it makes sense to learn a little more about it. In fact, one of my ‘goals’ is to have a classy wine wall in my own home, which I’m loved to eventually get this year!
These are the 3 most important details I take on board when looking on the bottle:
Varietal labeling: The varietal is the type of grape used to make the wine. Is your wine a pinot noir or chardonnay? Understanding the different flavors with each grape varietal is essential to choosing the right wine.
Price point: This one is self-explanatory, but having a price range in mind before you go wine shopping is important. Sometimes all you need is a £7 bottle of wine and it can be excellent quality. A £7 well chosen bottle is also a brilliant gift, too.
Region: Where the wine comes from determines its flavor profile. Climate will impact the types of grapes grown in the area, which will produce vastly different wine styles.
I first started getting into wines and appreciating them more after attending numerous wine tasting events in Manchester. Here, I actually stopped and began listening to the wine experts when they talked a group of us through the scents, the flavours, tastes, differentiating between bitter and sweet notes etc…
The most important thing for me was discovering the origins of each wine and their types. So for example, I learnt after attending a couple of wine tasting events that I look a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, almost as much as I enjoy an Argentinian Malbec.
I also picked up a few tips about storing wine at home, and which wines taste best when they are served ice cold, slightly chilled, or at room temperature. It helps to have a quality wine cooler in your kitchen if your ensuring your white and rose wines are chilled, especially when serving wine for dinner when friends are round, and you don’t want to keep getting up to go to the fridge.
Wine Shopping The Right Way
Once I got my head around how to properly appreciate wine, it changed the way I now shop for wine. I try not to pop into a local shop anymore and pick up a reduced bottle to have with my partner on a Friday night. Instead, I try to stock up on quality, well-chosen wines, from retailers who make wine shopping more of an experience and journey.
One of the ways is shopping online with wine expert sites, that specialises in everything to do with wines from all over the world. My newest favourite is The Beauty & The Taste – an online boutique showcasing high-quality wines. The wine boutique presents a selected, yet comprehensive catalogue of bottles of wine from some of the most important regions in the world. The wines they offer are produced by both iconic and niche winemakers, focusing on high quality.
To make it super helpful, all the wines on site are scored by the most important wine critics in the world, in which scores are displayed in each product page.
How much easier does that make the wine shopping experience? So much so in my opinion! The site is also clear and enjoyable to scroll around, making my wine browsing and shopping journey really fun!
One thing that also stood out is that The Beauty & The Taste work differently than most other wine companies when it comes to vintages. Their focus is to offer vintages that showcase the wine at its very peak. This means the wines can be enjoyed straight away, rather than being kept in a cellar, and they tend to privilege the slightly older vintages, so that people can enjoy the taste at its best. This means for that ,many of the wines on site, the availability is fairly limited and the lists are subject to changes.
For a real wine fanatic like me, I find shopping wines this way is much more satisfying. It makes me consider an occasion to enjoy it, tailoring my choices to budget, grape and region, to name a few.
One of the main ways I got into wine so much was down to my passion for food. I started to realise that certain wines didn’t taste so good with my main course, but went down a treat with a slice of carrot cake! The same went for cuisines of food, too. Some wines I loved didn’t really work with my Italian cooking, but went down really well with a Roast Chicken dinner!
Understanding food and wine pairing can take a while, but in a nutshell, the below might give you a little head start if you’re interested in knowing more:
- Acidity in wine pairs well with fatty and sweet foods.
- Fatty foods need either an acidic or high alcohol wine, otherwise the wine will taste flabby.
- Bitter (aka Tannic) wine can be balanced with a sweet food.
- Salty shouldn’t compete with acidity in wine. Use sparingly as necessary to keep sharpness in the meal.
- Sweet food/wine benefits from a little acidity.
- Alcohol can be used to cut through fatty foods or balance a sweet dish
Anyone have a wine appreciation as big as mine? Let me know!