There is no doubt that choosing a red wine can be a bit of an intimidating process. Although you might know that you’ve enjoyed certain bottles much more than others when dining out or at a dinner party, it can be a challenge to keep track of all the terminology and grape varieties once you’re confronted with the huge selection that can be found in most wine stores.
Of course, it also depends how you’re planning to drink the wine, what you’ll be eating with it, and how long you’re intending to store it before consumption. That being said, you don’t have to be a sommelier to feel comfortable buying a bottle of red wine that you’re confident you will enjoy.
Here are five red wine selection tips for picking that perfect bottle.
1. Read the wine labels and consider other flavours you enjoy
Although it is true that each grape variety is more likely to exhibit certain characteristics, with the proliferation of blends, varieties, and general overwhelming choice on the market these days, it is limiting to set yourself on just one type of grape that you go for every time.
The descriptions on wine labels are meant to help you choose and when they mention containing “hints of chocolate” or “notes of citrus,” pay attention and think about whether or not you enjoy these flavours in other contexts, it will likely carry through to your wine preferences.
2. Select a wine appropriate for the occasion
Of course, it is also important to keep in mind the context in which you will be serving the wine and to make an apt selection based on the circumstance. If you’re going to be serving the wine to a group of friends or family members whose specific wine preferences you’re not familiar with, that it is best to go with a “crowd-pleaser.”
This means opting for a bottle that fall closer to the middle of the spectrum on sweetness, acidity and body. The more balanced the flavours, the more likely it is to be a wine that most of your guests will enjoy.
3. Don’t worry too much about the age of the wine
There is a lot of confusing information out there about how to pick a wine based on how old it is. One of the biggest misconceptions out there for people who are new to the world of wine is that older wine is better because taste develops with age. This is absolutely not a set rule.
Wine all have different aging periods and need to be stored properly in order for this process to be effective. At most generic wine stores, it is safe to assure that the wine on the selves is ready to drink and therefore you don’t have to concern yourself with how old it is.
4. Don’t dismiss all screw cap bottles
Another prevalent misconception when it comes to selecting wine is that only bottles sealed with a cork are “authentic” or that they indicate that the wine is of a higher caliber. In fact, the bottle process has evolved and, for wine that is to be consumed within a year of bottling, screw caps can actually go a long way to ensuring that the wine doesn’t spoil.
5. Keep a wine diary
Probably the most effective way to really understand your preferences for red wine and help you make more informed decisions in the future, is to keep a list of the bottles you try and make notes of the various characteristic you enjoyed. There are also now many apps available that help facilitate the process and make it easy to have your cheat sheet readily available while shopping.