Going shopping for wine when you don’t know what you’re looking for is nothing less than a grueling task. There are so many options that it would be no surprise to walk out empty-handed. Using this guide, hopefully you’ll feel better equipped to choose the one that suits your taste, budget, and occasion.

Pricing

A decent bottle of wine doesn’t have to come at an outrageous price. Think of the occasion and choose accordingly. If the event includes people that you are trying to impress, opt for something on the higher end of affordable, and if you’re just having supper in with some friends that already know your dirty secrets, cheap wine is totally acceptable. Most of the time expensive wines are overpriced anyway, so opting for a mid-range bottle is a good call.

Red Wine

There is no correct way to choose a wine because it all depends on personal style. One misconception is that you can’t drink red wine with fish. This isn’t true, but keep in mind that it needs to be something soft like a Pinot Noir, which can also be served with chicken. Anything stronger than this can make the wine taste metallic. Drinking red wine chilled is also acceptable. Choose something like Cotes du Rhone or Beaujolais and put in the refrigerator 30 minutes before opening it. If serving spicy food choose a soft and fruity wine like an Australian or Chilean red and Lamb goes best with Rioja.

Choose a wine from Chile, Australia, or California when pairing with steak. Vintage wines don’t have a great guideline, because there are too many variables. These wines deserve expert advice, so do your research.

Pinks

Rosé comes in two main styles, sweet Californian and dry. It is difficult to tell them apart only by color, as they all produce different colors which are not an indication of flavor. A white Zinfandel indicates a sweet California style. The grape is what is responsible for the sweet flavor and it is best had when chilled alongside a bowl of strawberries, with dessert, or an Asian dish. A dry rosé is fruity and floral, and taste a bit silky. The best come from New Zealand, Chile, Australia, and France. Look for a dry rosé that is a Pinot Noir, Shiraz, or Cabernet. Additionally, it is best to match a dry rosé with the food that is pink colored like salmon, tuna, or prawns.

White Wine

Generally for vintage white and rosé, don’t choose anything older than 2009. The taste of the fruit tends to go flat. Salmon and other richer fish dishes go best with Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc has a clean, tropical taste that works well with the seafood. Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling should be served with Oriental food like Thai, because the food has enough zest to counter the sweet and sour flavors. For a barbecue, a white from South Africa, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, or North America will be sufficient. This is because they are not traditional wine making countries in Europe. White wines from France go great with muscles, and Pinot Grigio goes well with seafood or risotto.

When choosing a bottle of wine, a cork or screw-top is not the ultimate battle in determining cheap wine from expensive wine. Sometimes a screw-top is just more practical. Think of packing a picnic and buying a bottle of wine on the way to the park and realizing there is no corkscrew. With the screw-top lid this is no problem at all. Keep this in mind when choosing the bottle of wine, along with the budget and the occasion.

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