Wines as we know them are generally distinguished as either red or white wine. However, this distinction is much too simplified considering the various types of wine depending on the grapes they were made of and the location of the vineyard where they were grown.
Having invested possibly hundreds of pounds in your latest bottle of vintage wine (ah well, we can but dream), the next important decision is where to store this prized possession?
The knowledge that wine can come in hundreds, perhaps thousands of flavours, can leave you with a feeling of dread especially when you have to order wine in restaurants. The basic rule is that there is no one perfect wine because it really depends on your own taste buds.
An expensive wine that may taste perfect for one can taste horrible to another. Here’s our guide in choosing the right wine.
When in a restaurant
When ordering wine in restaurant, ask for the wine you personally prefer or have gotten familiar to the taste of. If you are the adventurous type or you really don’t have an idea which wines are good, then it is always practical to ask the help of the waiter or the restaurant staff taking your order.
It is proper to surmise that the staff or waiter should have been given instructions and the basic training in wine selection by the restaurant owner or manager. But what if the waiter is just as ignorant as their customers about their wine list? What if the big decision as to which wine to order is left in your hands? Uh oh!
If there isn’t a staff member that is knowledgeable about wines or can’t make suggestions, ask the waiter to come back and then ask your companions about their preferences. Ask your dining companions whether they prefer red or white wine.
The most common choices for white wine would be Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or as is fashionable at the moment a Sauvignon Blanc. If you like dryer wines opt for one of the latter two. For red, think of a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot, as these are generally very popular. No other choice could be much safer.
If you are eating white meat like fish or chicken, it would be best to order white wine. If you have chosen red meat like pork or beef roast, then red wine like Pinot Noir would be an ideal wine to order (see what we did there). Ordering wine by the bottle is sometimes cheaper than ordering wine by the glass. There are restaurants that offer discounts to customers who order two or more bottles of wine.
Whether or not you have a limited budget, it is always wise to ask for the price of wine per bottle or per glass, if only to have a stock knowledge of their prices the next time you are tasked with the same decision to order wine for the group.
If money isn’t a problem for you, then of course a Dom Perignon would be a good choice, although this wine is higher priced than the others. If you would like a personal favourite of mine in terms of Champagne, I would always recommend a bottle of Pol Roger, I have many fond memories of this and you won’t be disappointed. If you see it on a menu, go for it (try the Churchill Edition if the budget stretches).
Equally, there are also good non Champagne sparklers such as Cavas or Proseccos, which are priced reasonably, depending on where you are eating.
New Age Wines
There are wines that are better when they are less than three years old. You can try ordering white wines like a Pinot Blanc or a French Macon, which are dry white wines that command good prices and go well with appetisers.
Also don’t ignore new age wines. Many fall into the trap of ordering French, Italian or Spanish wine. There are so many amazing wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Germany, South Africa and the USA that are high quality and can outshine any traditional Mediterranean favourite.
Wines are best drunk when they have been properly chilled and benefit from being kept in dark conditions. Although this is not always practical, wine should certainly be stored in an area that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
Many modern wines do not need to be aged over a great period of time; therefore extensive cellars are often unnecessary. Having said this, if you have the time, space and resource to excavate a cellar, your wine will surely benefit.
A purpose built cellar is not normally an option for most households and so suitable alternatives should be explored. Maybe could make some space in a dark cupboard in the kitchen?
Find a wine that tickles your taste buds. Personally, I love dry wines and have an almost instant knee jerk reaction to sweet wines. You may prefer sweeter ones, but the point is everyone’s pallet is different but hopefully with some of the options I have listed here you can’t go too far wrong if you’re trying to please a diverse group of people.
Equally, get out there explore, taste and experiment and no doubt you’ll have lots of fun trying.