With its overwhelming volume of esoteric varieties, a wine purchasing experience can be as unwelcoming as the Harvard Law School Library. Winemaker Austin Hope has some suggestions that makes wine sound more like shopping for the right pair of shoes. Mr. Hope's first suggestion is "It doesn't need to be that complicated".
Hear are Mr. Hope's simple wine rules to live by:
TRUST THE EMPLOYEES: His first rule is easy. Wine and Bottle Shops have usually experienced employees or can get someone to answer your questions, so do not be afraid to ask. "Unless you're a 7-Eleven or grocery store, they're going to steer you the right way" Mr. Hope states.
YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH A CHABLIS: "You can pair wines with anything, but if you really want to be safe, get a Chablis", Mr. Hope states. Chablis will generally please everyone and is versatile with food because of its flavor, as a dryer white wine, will not overpower the palette. Men will love it as well!
LOOK FOR THE APPELLATION: If it says California and that's all it says, it's probably going to be grown from less desirable areas per Mr. Hope [who is from California]. They will be from bigger wineries and the quality is not going to be as high. Appellations, like NAPA Valley or Sonoma, is important when buying wines under $20. Usually, the better the wine, the higher the price; but, bargains can be found under $20 that are very good wines.
GO WITH SIMPLER LABELS: Labels can be overwhelming. Eye-catching labels can overcompensate for what's in the glass. It may not be the coolest label, but the chances of it being a good wine is greater. Simple labels are the historic sign of the better wines.
THE HIGHER THE ALCOHOL %, THE HEAVIER THE WINE: To address this point, Mr. Hope suggests "go to your cabinet, grab a glass and pour some vodka straight into it with no mixer. You can feel how heavy the sensation is, the weight of it across your palette". This is due to the higher proof. The 'sweet spot' is a wine between 11% and 13%. As you increase the alcohol, you get more tannins, more richness, more weight. Hope states that at 14% you start to feel the difference. Very rarely will you find a wine under $20 that is a 15% alcohol [at a party, you'll need foods for these!].
PRICE DOES NOT MATTER BELOW $50: The truth is a $15 wine can be every bit as good in most cases as a $25 wine. Find a brand you like and stick with it, but do not be afraid to experiment occasionally. If you're over $50, you're going to get a darn good bottle of wine. The higher the price, typically the better the wine per Mr. Hope.
Try these suggestions by Mr. Hope and, hopefully [no pun intended], it will work for you and yours!
The Perfect Pour
Author: Tom Mason
Owner of Kirk's Korner in York, Nebraska, Tom is well-educated when it comes to Spirits, Fine Wines and Beers & Microbrews. The Perfect Pour provides a space for you to explore the ins and outs of your favorite adult beverages. Have comments? Please comment or contact us so we can chat more!