Plenty of people are intimidated at the thought of buying wine, because ‘wine is so confusing’. That is not too far from the truth, because the sheer variety of wine can certainly be bewildering. Therefore, most wine buyers, unless they are experts, prefer to stick to tried and tested brands and vintages. However, you can be a little adventurous when you choose your next bottle of wine. Don’t believe us? Here’s how:
First up, trying new wines is not as risky as you think. Sometime ago, the Wine Market Council released data that showed that Merlot, Chardonnay, and White Zinfandel are the most popular wines in the U.S. However, with close to 20,000 different wines available in the country, there’s certainly room for experiment.
So when you choose your next bottle of wine, you could well afford to be a little daring and buy a wine you haven’t tried before. Obviously, price will be a factor, but once you establish your budget, you could try asking the wine store staff to give you some helpful tips about various brands and labels.
Wines, as you probably know, are classified into five broad types depending on their method of vinification: table wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines, aperitiv wines and pop wines. However, unless you’re an expert, and we’re assuming you’re not, you are best advised to classify wines according to taste. Ultimately, you will be the best judge of what tastes good to your palate, so no matter how much anyone recommends a label or a vintage, trust your taste above all else.
Tastes the best
Wines are essentially made up of chemical compounds fairly similar to those occurring naturally in fruits, vegetables, and spices. The taste of a particular wine depends on the grape variety that has gone into its making, but the ‘oak cask’ factor is at work as well – to be explained later.
So a wine may be dry, off dry, fruity, or sweet, depending on the grape variety. To take an example, a wine’s sweetness is determined by the amount of residual sugar it contains post-fermentation, relative to its acidity. Dry wine, for instance, has extremely low residual sugar content.
However, when it comes to flavors, a wine may contain chocolate, vanilla, or coffee flavors, to take only three examples, and all of these come about as a result of ageing the wine in oak casks – hence the oak cask factor. Then again, if you detect a banana flavor, you can attribute it to the presence of particular yeast, and not any grape. Similarly, plenty of people report detecting animal scents in wine, once again attributable to natural yeasts.
Finally, here’s a list of some relatively uncommon brands that you could go for the next time you choose a bottle of wine:
Nebbiolo: A red wine that tastes of leather, tar, stewed prunes, chocolate, liquorices, and roses
Tempranillo: Another red wine that contains vanilla, strawberry and tobacco flavors
Melon de Bourgogne: A white wine with lime, salt, and green apple flavors
Viognier: Yet another white wine that tastes of peach, pear, nutmeg, and apricot
Chenin Blanc: A white wine with wet wool(!), beeswax, honey, apple, and almond flavors
Sangiovese: An earthy red wine that tastes of herbs, black cherry, and leather
Mourvèdre: Thyme, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, violet, and blackberry flavors combine in this red wine
Sémillon: An appetizing white wine that combines honey, orange, and lime flavors