Have you ever found yourself buying the same wine from the same store week after week? Wouldn’t you like to expand your wine selection and try something new? No need to get in a boring rut! Here are some easy tips to find something new.
Snap a Picture: If you’re like me, there’s no way that I’ll remember that great one I drank at my friend’s dinner party (and that’s not because I was impaired?!). Unless you’re one of those rare breed of people who have a photographic memory, the easiest way to remember that wine is to take out your cell phone and take a picture. Then, when you’re at the grocery store, you can either look for that particular wine, or find a similar one by reading the label.
Check the Wine Label: Ok, turns out that the wine your friend chose is a bit too high for your budget. Now, what? This is where knowing how to read the wine label will help you find another delicious wine sans the high price tag!. You don’t have to be a trained sommelier to understand all the information on the wine label. There’s only three vital pieces of information that you should look for in the label: the varietal, region where the grapes were grown, and the year it was harvested.
- Varietal: Varietal is the type of grapes from which the wine was made from; you probably know variety by such names as Chardonnay or Merlot etc.. Think of this like oranges; there are many different type of oranges such as valencia, or blood oranges.
- Area Grown: Where the grapes are grown will have a major impact on the taste, bouquet, robustness, etc of the wine. For example, the cabernets made from the famous French vineyards are noticeably “lighter” than the bold wines of California. These distinctions arise from each region’s weather, soil type, terrain, etc. Locally, famous regions of grapes are Napa, Sonoma, Healdsburg, just to name a few. Some labels will also include the specific vineyard in which the one was produced. For example, Napa wines often include the actual name of the vineyard in the wine’s name like Rutherford or Stag’s Leap District. Similarly, Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley are commonly listed for wines from within Sonoma County, CA as a point of reference. This concept is similar to a map in which provides more granular details like the specific streets.
- Harvested Year: Finally, the year in which a grape is produced is also an important in selecting which wine to buy. Like fruit or vegetable produce, the quality and characteristics of a grape harvest is affected by many factors, particularly weather. Therefore, the year in which a wine is harvested and produced is important and will be helpful to determine your selection. Ever hear some wine enthusiasts saying, “That was a good year for Zins, or this is a vintage year”?
Pro-Tip: More information can typically be found on the back side label, such as alcohol content by volume (AVB) and maybe a bit more about the wine makers or their process of how they made it.
“There’s a famous English adage, “A Picture Can Tell a Thousand Words”. With our ever present cell phone, why not use it and take a picture so that when you’re ready to try something new, voila! The wine may not be “exactly” the same as all winemakers have different styles and techniques to their wine making. But you’ll be trying something new that might even become a new favorite,and expanding your knowledge of wines.
Just like books, music, and other forms of art, wine is always being produced and released into the world. If you are feeling a little more industrious, you can research your favorite wine to get more facts, such as if it is aged in oak barrels or steal tanks which affect the flavor or the wine. The more information you have, the better chances you will have to find something new and wonderful.
P.S.: Don’t have your iphone handy? This article will teach you how to remember ones using memory techniques like visual associations.
P.P.S Pro Tip: Still not feeling confident in selecting a wine? Go to a speciality “Wine & Spirits” store, rather than your local grocery or liquor store. Most “Wine & Spirits” shops employ people who are either educated, or have considerable experience with wines who love to geek-out on the nuances of wines and help customers select just the perfect wine.