We’ve all been there before. Standing in front of hundreds of bottles of wine, utterly confused as to which one to pick. It can be a daunting, if not overwhelming task. A lot of our guests ask us during our tastings how they can better pick out wines at the store. We could write a whole book on the subject, but for brevity’s sake, we’ve come up with 5 questions to ask before purchasing a bottle of wine.
1. What foods complement/detract from it? Or is it a wine that is best drunk alone?
This is probably the most important question to ask. A bad pairing can make a good wine taste only OK, whereas the perfect pairing can make a bottle of wine the highlight of the evening.
2. Should it be chilled?
Almost all whites, rosés, and champagnes need to be chilled. The vast majority of reds are to be served at room temperature. However, certain reds (namely Beaujolais of France) can be chilled slightly if desired.
3. What is the ideal age to drink the wine?
With a few exceptions on some high-end white wines, whites and rosés need to be drunk within 3-5 years. For reds, this can vary widely so it’s really best to ask the wine shop staff, or call the winery directly. A quick Google search is also a good place to find out when a particular bottle should be drunk.
4. If not shown on the label, which grape varietal is in the bottle?
Most French wine labels only show the region, so some investigating will need to be done as to which grapes are grown in the region.
5. Will it need to be decanted?
For certain reds (usually the stronger, more tannic ones), decanting the wine can make all the difference. Some wines can be opened up to 24 hours ahead of time.