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Choosing Wine

How To's For Choosing Wine -- Stocking A Wine Celler? Buying A Hostess Gift?

Do you find choosing wine a little complicated? Are you looking for a wine to serve with dinner tonight or do you need the perfect wine for a hostess gift?

Should you choose the expensive French Bordeaux or the California Chardonnay? Maybe you really want the Pinot Noir or the Pinot Grigio?

Choosing wine can be much easier if you know some of the distinguishing characteristics of the many types of wine. There is an abundance of information available but my "keep it simple" rule should give you all the information you need to feel comfortable when making your wine selections for any occasion.

Types of Wine

There are many different types of wine to enjoy with your appetizers, dinner or dessert. Which wine should you choose? Listed below are some of the most popular types of wine that you will be either drinking or buying at one time or another either for a gift or your family dinner.

Here is a list of some things you might need to know to help you make the right selections.

Sparkling Wine

  • Sparkling wines are perfect as an apéritif (whets the appetite).
  • They have high acidity and an effervescence which cleanses the palate.
  • They come in white, Rosé and even a red shiraz sparkling wine from Australia.
  • sparkling wine and chocolate truffles
  • Sparkling wine is very food friendly.
  • Styles range from dry to sweet.
  • Sparkling wines are meant for drinking while they are young.
Depending on the style of sparkling wine you choose, it can be served as an apéritif, with appetizers, dinner, or with dessert. It is very versatile.

White Wine

    2 glasses of white wine
  • White wine is usually simpler and less complex than red wine.
  • It has more acidity which comes from the fruit.
  • The acidity gives fresh, lively, and tangy flavors with the elements of fruitiness for appeal.
  • Most white wines are meant to be consumed young.

Red Wine

  • Red wine is generally richer, deeper in flavor, and smoother in texture than white wine.
  • The skins of the grapes give the wine color and more complex flavors.
  • The tannins in red wine is from the grape skins, pits, and stems, or from the oak in which the wine was stored. The tannin is what makes your mouth pucker.
  • Most red wines benefit from at least some aging, during which the tannins soften, and the wine becomes more complex.

Rosé Wines

small picture of rose wine This information on rosé wine does not apply to white zinfandel. White zinfandel is lower in alcohol; and is considered a blush wine which is very fruit forward with a level of sweetness. The rosé wines we are discussing here are dry wine styles made from our favorite red grape varieties.

Wine Selections

The best way to get started is to try a variety of wines. It is the only way to educate your palate and discover your own tastes. You'll never make any progress with wine if you stick to the same Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, no matter how much you like them.

Start with simple and inexpensive wines, and work your way up to the powerhouse bottles. Both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are produced in almost every wine-producing region around the world.

Try choosing wines from different regions each time you shop for wine. So expand your horizons -- don't limit your wine tasting to only one region.

By focusing on the differences within the varietals (for example unoaked Chardonnay from California or a white Burgundy from France), you will broaden your knowledge and know what you like and feel much more confident in any wine drinking environment.

Must Have Wines

There are a few "must have" wines that will please most everyones′ palate and will never go out of style. Your mission, without having to stock an entire cellar, is to purchase a selection of wines from light and fruity to robust and full-bodied.

Choose a variety of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from different regions.

A wine that is labeled with the predominant grape used to produce the wine. For example, a wine made from Chardonnay grapes is labeled Chardonnay.

Or you can pick other white varietals that you might like such as Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc. Also include a sparkling wine to your white wine selections.

Do the same with a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz from different regions. Or you can choose other reds such as Sangiovese, Zinfandel, or a Village Burgundy which is affordable and a good place to start your French wine tasting journey.

Make A Friend

I know you have one more question. Which ‘brand’ should I buy when choosing wine? Here's a "Tip" -- make a friend at your local wine shop. Many independent shops are owned and⁄or staffed by knowledgeable people with a passion for wine.

Let them know what your palate preferences are –– do you like crisp acidic wines, fruity wines, light, medium or full body wines with strong tannins?

They will be happy to help with your selections. Remember there is no right or wrong for any of this, it's all just a matter of taste. Make notes of your favorite wines, the flavors and aromas you liked or disliked, and be sure to note the name of the wine, the vintage if any, and the producer of the wine.

Now you can choose wine with confidence.

Have Fun and Taste Wine and Enjoy!

How Will You Serve the Wine?

Deciding how you will serve the wine is another important element when choosing wine. Will you serve it as an aperitif, or with appetizers, dinner, or just dessert?

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Did You Know?

Cava is Spain's sparkling wine.
Sekt is German sparkling wine.
Spumante is from Italy.

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