Essential Wine Tips That Will Help You Pick Out Your Next Favorite Bottle

posted: 02/16/18
by: Kristine Boyd

Walking down the wine isle can be intimidating. You see a wide range of grape varieties, regions and words you can't pronounce. Most of us end up going for the prettiest bottle at the cheapest price. The problem is that when we go to actually drink the wine, we find ourselves disappointed that the gorgeous bottle didn't match in taste. No more guessing on what kind of wine you like! We have compiled the basics of wine shopping so that you can pick out your next favorite bottle!

Reds versus whites:

Aside from their obvious color difference, you should know the differences between red and white wines. Wine gets its color from the grape skins. The longer a wine sits in the grape skin, the more it affects the color. Red wines are made from grapes with darker skins. This makes red wines more tannic, which is the dry, pucker mouth feeling you can get after you take a sip of wine. Red wines tend to have more red and dark fruit flavors like cherry, blackberry, plum, etc. White wines are made with both light and dark skin grapes and have less tannic qualities than reds. Their flavor profile is usually associated with pears, apples, citrus and other light fruits. Of course, there are always exceptions to these rules, but for the most part, these are the major difference between reds and whites.

How to tell if a wine will be dry or sweet:

You have decided whether you want a red or white, now you have to choose between a sweet or dry wine. A lot of people make the mistake of buying a wine, thinking it will be dry, then tasting it to find out it is actually a sweet wine, and vice versa. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference is by looking at the alcohol percentage. Most wine labels will have the ABV (alcohol by volume) on the bottle. Generally, the higher the alcohol content, the drier it will be and the less alcohol content, the sweeter it will be. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, but this trick will work most of the time when trying to decide whether a wine is dry or sweet.

Become familiar with grape varietals:

Another way to pick out wines you love is to become familiar with the grape varietals. If you know you like pinot grigio, then try different wines made from this grape. If merlot is your favorite, then look up grape varietals similar to merlot. This is the part of wine that is trial and error. If you are overwhelmed by all of the grape varieties, the chart below shows the general flavor profile of the most popular wine grapes.

Recognize flavor descriptions you like:

You have decided on red or white, looked at the ABV to detect desired sweetness, identified a grape varietal you like and now you should read the wine description on the label. There will be descriptions like pepper, berry, pineapple and even grassy. These are all relative to the person drinking the wine, but you should note which flavor descriptions you like. For example, if you weren't a fan of a wine described as spicy, you know when you see that description on a label you should pick out something different. But if you read a label that says the wine has peach notes and you have had wines in the past with peach that you enjoyed, then this might be a good bottle to try! This is all about paying attention to the flavors in the wines you drink to know what you will want to try in the future.

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When in doubt, ask questions:

If you have done all of the steps above and are still having trouble picking out a bottle, never be afraid to ask! Most wine shops will have knowledgeable employees who would love to help you pick out a bottle of wine. Even grocery stores have started to have a customer service desk near the wine section to help people with their decision. All you have to do is tell them what kinds of wines you enjoy and a price range! Odds are they will lead you right to a wine that could possibly be your next favorite bottle.

No need to waste any money buying a wine that isn't your style. Next time you're in a wine store, shop like a pro with these easy tips. A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to wine shopping. Don't be intimidated by all of the fancy bottles and complicated names, just know some basics of what you like and don't be afraid to ask questions! Happy shopping!