I can already hear the crowds delirious as they reveal the best way to choose their own wine like a great one! After these few tips you will never be afraid to choose a bottle of wine by yourself.
1/ CALM DOWN!
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this one. For still a lot of people, buying wine is a very complicated stage: there are many choices on the shelves of a supermarket and/or a grocery store but most often without any reference or advice (that’s why you go to the wine shop!). However, you are not committing to your life or buying a home with a 25-year credit. Wine must remain a pleasure! As with any other area, a mistake will help you to make your selection a little better the next time.
So stay zen and the rest of my advice will do the rest!
How to choose the right bottle?
2/ ENJOY YOURSELVES! YES, BUT WITH WHOM?
Important step in the selection process: with whom will you share this bottle? You should know that if you bring wine to a party of 20 people, it will be very difficult to please everyone.
So don’t forget to please YOU!
3/ FIND THE GRAPE VARIETY THAT SUITS YOU
I can never tell you enough: the grape varieties are at the heart of everything! Here is a quick guide to the grape varieties. The goal being that you can identify the grape variety that you like the most.
In northern France*, Pinot Noir and Gamay are the main species. They will produce light wines, with a fairly light ruby red colour.
Gamay gives more aromas of red fruits (cherry, strawberry or blackberry), pinot noir will bring aromas of berries and red fruits (blackcurrant, strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant) and vegetal notes (moss, mushrooms).
On the banks of the Loire Valley, you will also find Cabernet Franc. It’s the Chinon variety! This grape variety gives slightly more tannic wines but always quite round and fruity.
In Bordeaux, you will find Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet is powerful and tannic, it brings character to Bordeaux wines. Merlot brings fruit and intensity. They are mostly assembled together: more Merlot on the right bank (Saint-Emilion, Blayes, Côtes de Bourg) and more Cabernet on the left bank (Médoc, Pessac-Léognan).
From Languedoc to Côtes du Rhône, the same basic blend is found almost everywhere: Syrah and Grenache Noir. Syrah gives spicy aromas and character. Grenache gives intense red and black fruit aromas. They are wines full of sun.
*For French red wines, draw a line between the sands of Olonne and the city of Vienna. In the North, light wines and in the South, powerful wines. It’s a generality but it works very often!
Chardonnay is the universal grape variety. It is found everywhere in Burgundy. You can also find a lot of them in wines from the south of France. These wines are round and fat on the palate with fruity aromas. The sunnier the area, the more intense the chardonnay will be.
Sauvignon Blanc is very present in the west (Loire and Bordeaux). It is a grape variety with aromas of citrus fruits, zests and white flowers. They are generally quite dry and lively.
Chenin is present in some Loire appellations (Saumur, Anjou, Savennières…). They are dry but aromatic.
Viognier, dry Muscat and white Grenache share the Languedoc and a large part of the Côtes du Rhône.
I’m not talking about Alsace grape varieties because a dedicated article is coming!
I invite you to read my article on THE COLOUR DOESN’T MAKE THE ROSE
4/ WHAT ARE WE EATING?!
Enjoy yourself, that’s the main thing. In summer, take light and fresh wines (Loire, Burgundy in red as in white). In winter, warm up with wines full of sun (Bordeaux, South-West, Languedoc and Côtes du Rhône)
Salad, gazpacho, mozzarella tomatoes or grilled fish are there? Choose light and fruity wines. The tannins of more powerful wines will tend to be exacerbated.
Ratatouille, beef, chicken in the oven, dishes in sauce? If you put sun and heat on your plate, do the same for your wines. Dare the character of wines from the South.
IS IT A PARTY?
White and rosé are becoming more and more popular at aperitifs but don’t forget champagne (in any occasion!) and crémants or other bubbles (prosecco, clairette, limoux) to adapt according to your budget.
5/ WHAT PRICE PER BOTTLE?
Finding a good wine under 5 euros at the supermarket is more of an exception than a rule! For my part, I consider that a correct bottle is between 6 and 10 euros. Great wines start at 15 euros and beyond. As for the good champagnes, they start at 20-25 euros. If you still want bubbles without ruining yourself, I strongly recommend you to take a good crémant (or sparkling wine) between 10 and 15 euros which will be better than a small champagne already too expensive.
These prices may vary depending on the country you are in.
6/ BONUS ADVICE: MEDALS
Don’t trust the medals too much! Well, except maybe the gold and silver medals from the Paris agricultural competition and the Brussels Vinalies.
Tell me in comment, if you like this article. We’re 1000 on Instagram and that’s really amazing. A little more people are trained every day to better understand and consume wine! And it’s for my greatest pleasure!
See you soon,
Corentin – DesVinsaVous