Aspiring Sommelier: How to Choose a Good Wine?

Good wine is a real decoration of the table, but how do you choose a really high-quality drink to enjoy the tasting? This information will be useful to everyone who has no knowledge and experience, but at the same time sometimes wants to pamper himself with excellent wine. What should you look for when choosing a noble drink so that its taste and aroma leave an exceptionally pleasant impression?

The importance of the labeling and region

So, let’s start with the marking, it is a kind of passport for any alcoholic drink. Of course, studying the labels is not the most reliable way to choose a delicious wine, but at least you will weed out questionable producers. So, the name of the manufacturer and the region should be clearly indicated on the label, if there is no information, it is better to refrain from buying. As for the regions, the farther south, the tastier, since the grapes love warmth and sun. The best choice is Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and other countries of the New World.

You should be careful with French wines cheaper than 5 euro. The fact is that not only expensive elite wines are exported in France, but also cheap drinks are not of the best quality, and if the label says that this is Bordeaux or Burgundy, and the price tag is 4 euro, most likely its taste will leave much to be desired. By the way, the wines of the southern French region of Languedoc are especially praised.

It is worth taking a closer look at Italian and Hungarian wines from the Tokai region, producers from California, Austria and Germany, good wines are brought from Ukraine, from Georgia and Moldova. If we support domestic producers, then quite worthy wines are produced in the Crimea, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, in the Caucasus, in the Saratov and Volgograd regions.

Quality mark and “age”

Even an aspiring sommelier needs to understand the mysterious icons on packaging and labels. It is important to distinguish the sign of the national quality mark, while each country has its own symbols: for the French – AOC, VdP, VDQS, VdT; for Italians – DOC, DOCG, IGT, VdT; Americans have AVA. Experts say that the closer to the beginning of the alphabet, the higher the quality.

Also check the bottling date of the wine, but don’t confuse it with the harvest year – they can be different from each other. Ideally, white and sparkling wines should not be more than a year old (count the “age” from the date of bottling), and red wines can be stored for about three years. After the expiration of these periods, the wine loses its taste. Old, barrel-aged wines are best found in wine boutiques, but they are usually expensive.

Appearance – what to look at

“They are greeted by their appearance” – this also sometimes works in the selection of wines. A label with funny pictures or pretentious decor is not a sign of quality, on the contrary, behind such a beautiful facade sometimes unsightly content is hidden. Besides, wine in decorated bottles is more expensive, but why pay extra for a spectacular container? Serious brands have an elegant and restrained bottle design, but there are also exceptions, so no matter how relevant the wine “face control” is, you shouldn’t bet on it.

Michel Montaigne, a French philosopher, said that “people begin to taste wine with their eyes.” And one cannot but heed his wise advice. When choosing a drink, if the container allows, it is worth taking a closer look at the colors. Acceptable red wine shades range from pure ruby ​​red to purple-red to garnet. The palette of white wines includes yellow, amber, pale yellow, yellow with a greenish tint and golden color. But the subtleties do not end there.

It is even important where the bottle is – it is better to choose the wine that stands at the back of the store shelves, where sunlight does not fall. Make sure the selected bottle is away from heat sources. In addition, goods of more famous expensive brands are usually put in the most prominent place, or those that stores, especially chain stores, want to get rid of as soon as possible, therefore, most likely, bottles with good and budget wines can be found somewhere on the bottom shelf.

It’s great if expensive wine is stored horizontally. This is important for wetting the cork so that it does not dry out, as oxygen penetrates through the cracks in the bottle, oxidizing the wine. By the way, many people believe that wine must necessarily have natural cork, since it is a sign of high quality. However, this is not the case – natural cork is needed only for wines that mature in the bottle, and these are usually very expensive collection wines. Many manufacturers now use plastic and screw caps to seal wines that need to be drunk in the next 4 years.

Sometimes it is possible to study wine for sediment – if there is too much, the bottle, most likely, was stored incorrectly. Also pay attention to the glass. Wine in a transparent bottle should be drunk within two years (see bottling date), while a drink in thick, dark glass can last longer. Only a surrogate is sold in cardboard packaging!

Grape varieties

The final taste of the wine depends on the grape variety, but the name of the variety must be indicated on the label. Hazy phrases like “from the best grape varieties” sound rather unconvincing and suggest that the drink is made from leftovers.

The best white wines: Chardonnay with the aroma of fruits, nuts and honey, Sauvignon Blanc, smelling of apple and grass, Riesling, in the aroma of which you can catch mango, orange and even pineapple, white nutmeg with the scent of a tea rose, Aksai with light citrus notes and pinot blanc with a delicious duet of pear and melon.

The most famous red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe berry flavor, pinot noir with raspberry, blackberry, honey and plum tones, Syrah with blueberry accords and bright Isabella with currant and strawberry aroma.

Sometimes, to enhance the taste, different grape varieties are mixed – this is called blending, the richer the taste, the better the wine is considered. There are no strict rules on how to choose wine in the store according to the grape variety, it all depends on your preferences and gastronomic curiosity.

Anatomy of taste

Dry wines are made from fresh grapes, which undergo a long fermentation, after which the sugar completely disappears. That is why these drinks are considered healthier. Semi-dry wines already have more sugar, and, accordingly, they are softer in taste, and semisweet wines are made from late grape varieties that are harvested after the autumn frost, respectively, they are sweeter.

Wine experts advise against buying cheap semi-sweet wines, since they are made from low-quality raw materials, and sugar is added to an already finished drink to mask taste flaws. On the label of such a wine, they often write this – a wine drink, since the producers hesitate to call it wine, and they are right.

Be sure to read the composition of the product. You should be alerted by the words “wine material”, “mixture of wine materials”, “grape must” instead of specific names of grape varieties. The exception is French wines, since in France it is forbidden to list the names of grape varieties on the bottle.

In general, wine drink and wine are completely different things. But some manufacturers still stubbornly continue to write on the label “wine”, so be sure to look at the composition. Most likely, in addition to wine materials and wort, you will find sorbic acid and potassium sorbate there, which help slightly improve the taste of the wort drink. But the presence of sulfur dioxide in wine should not scare you – it is added in small quantities to all drinks so that they are better stored, otherwise you will have to create special cellars for wine with a specific and capricious microclimate.

If you are at a loss with a choice, use special applications for smartphones, which, based on the label alone, can give out a lot of interesting information about the wine, including the grape harvest. Some of them have about 500 thousand wines from 800 regions in the database, they have their own rating system. With their help, you can choose an inexpensive wine of excellent quality in the price range of 5- 15 euros, but some wines, for example, from Chile or Argentina, are sold at a lower price – how lucky!

Enjoy your wine drinking and new discoveries!