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Wine 101

Tips on Selecting the Best Wine

Written By Pratyush Arya

Published On May 31, 2016

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Wine is the drink which has by far the most myths associated with it, like 'the greater the cost, the better the wine','a massive bottle necessarily means the wine would be good' so on and so forth. The article focuses on selection of best wine at a restaurant, and as you read, you'll find all these myths debunked.

Read the label, Always


Yes, you've read correctly. You need to read the label of your wine. No, it doesn't have a joke written there somewhere, but it does have some essential information that'll guide you whether to buy it, or skip. If you come across wines that say "California Wine", or "Table Wine", they're sure to be delicious as hell, but wait. These wines generally raise alert because they're composed of grapes from a very large region, due to which they sometimes tend to be tad bit bland, or unbalanced.

Request a Taste, or Ask for a Small Serving


"How can we request the waiter to let us taste the wine? It won't look nice". But let us tell you, if the wine is open, which generally is when they serve in glasses, any decent restaurant manager would let you have a sip or two for the taste. Come on, what is the worst that could happen? The waiter will say a "no", right? What else? But trust us, in case you take a sip and you dislike the taste, you'll thank your stars for coming across this article, because you're for sure not going to spend money on that wine.

Now, suppose the waiter did say a "no", then ask him for a small serving. You can always order more if you like, and in case you dislike the taste, you'd have wasted only a nominal amount. Good, isn't it?

The Fragrance


Now this is something that people generally skip, and then regret later on. Take a deep sniff off your wine, and try to recognize the fragrance. What does it smell of? Honey? Peppers? Apple? It is very likely, that the more you smell, the better the wine may taste. "Juicy impressions of three types of fruit or aromas of three things (that you like) the nose knows," says wine industry veteran Tim McDonald. "I am a big believer of sniffing and swirling; the taste is confirming what you sense. Good wine is the combo of all of it, the sum of the parts. If you think it's bad, it probably is."

Read the Digits


Do some homework before going out for a wine, and the numbers will make perfect sense to you. Is it a 2005 Bordeaux? It is going to be good!

Just research on years and regions, and know your year and your region, you'll know if climate and whether conditions produce good wines. Excessive heat, cold, or rain can take its toll on grapes, thereby ruining the wines. And remember, DON'T BE FOOLED BY AGE! Some region specific wines like  Sauvignon Blanc or Provence rosé are meant to be consumed young. Ditch anyone who says "old wine is always better", because that is not so.

In general you can drink whites one to two years and reds two to three years after bottling. Higher-end wines have more staying power and can last three to 10 years or more.

Choosing Good Pairing


Choosing a good pairing with any wine is as important as choosing the wine itself. Now this is actually a debatable issue because some people prefer complementary, while some prefer contrasting pairings. It totally depends on the taste. But if you're one for the complementary route, just remember, light with light, and rich with rich. Implying seafood and chicken pairs amazingly well with white wines whereas red meat and cheeses pair well with red wines.

What Goes Best With What?

By now you must be exhausted reading all this and making mental notes. So for your convenience, we’ve tried to summarize below which wine goes the best with which food. This is just a reference list, and should be taken accordingly.

Beef, Lamb, or Pork
Beaujolais, Zinfandel, Red Bordeaux,Fruity Vin de Pays Red, Barbera
Burgundy Pinot Noir, Barsac, Beaujolais,Light Pinot Noir, Marsanne
Vin de Pays, Crisp Chardonnay, Spanish Tempranillo, ed Loire
Chicken Chardonnay, dry White Bordeaux, mature Red Bordeaux, Tuscany Reds, Vin du Pays
White Burgundy, Chablis, Muscadet, White Bordeaux, Pinot Grigio.
Sauvignon Blanc, Light Chablis, Muscadet, Barbera, Dolcetto, Tempranillo.
Cheese Chardonnay, Port, Bual Madeira, Rioja, Red Burgundy, Sancerre.