Ashley’s Quick Guide to Wine Selection:
Selecting the perfect wine for your occasion is fairly simple once you know what to look for. Unless you are able to taste the wine before you buy, the selection process can be daunting. Here are my best tips on wine selection that will help you pick the perfect wine.
Start with LOCATION.
Most wine retailers will organize selections based on where the wine is from. Location will tell you a lot about the wine’s flavor, so this is the best place to start. European (Old World) wines are made with traditional practices and will tend to have more complex and earthy flavors. American (New World) wines tend to have more floral and citrus flavors. Climate will also have an impact on the wine. If it’s from a hot part of the world it will be spicier. If it’s from a cold part of the world it will be crisper. For example, Riesling is a crisp white wine, so you would want to buy one from Germany or upstate NY rather than one from Australia or Chili.
Pro Tip: What grows together, goes together.
If you are cooking an italian meal, pick an italian wine.
Red vs. White. (skip this step)
Red and white wines come from the same grapes. The coloration happens in the wine making process. Red wines are made with the grape skins left on. In white wines, the skins have been removed. Leaving on the skins will change the flavor of the wine, but don’t make your selection based on color alone. Instead pick a region of the world, skip red vs. white for now and move right on to your price range.
There is a good wine for sale at every price point and you can find this wine with a little bit of wine knowledge. Again, start by first picking a regions of the world. Ask yourself, are you drinking wine with food? Or just a glass on its own? Are you looking for something crisp and refreshing? (Cold regions) Something with complex earthy flavors? (Old World) Once you are happy with the location and have identified how much you want to spend, you can narrowed down your selection to a few bottles.
Now we read the labels.
Most bottles will have descriptions of the flavor and you will already have an idea of what these flavor are or should be based on where they grapes were grown. You will also want to consider the % alcohol content. Higher alcohol (12.5-13%) will have stronger taste and may bring heat.
My favorites and general crowd pleasers:
Pinot Noir – Light, smooth red. Great from Northern California, Oregon, Washington (cold places).
Chianti – Light Italian red. Only from Italy. Cheap ones are as good as the expensive ones.
Cabernet Savignon – More flavorful, fuller red. Spicier from hot places, lighter from cool places.
Savignon Blanc – Flavorful crisp white. Flavor will change with climate. Try one from France!
Riesling – Fruity, crisp sweet white. Stick to cold places for this one.
Pino Grigio – More flavorful, crisp white. There are good value wines from Italy.
Chardonay – Usually oaky, fully bodied flavors. Great selections from California.