• Walk the Talk

5 things everyone should know when buying wine

With so much information available in websites and magazines, knowing the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon has never been easier. But with the amount of sites claiming to tell you all you need to know about your drink, no one needs to learn oenology to be able to make great choices.

Having this in mind, here are 5 quick and great tips to drink good wine and most importantly, enjoy it.

Exactly like art, buy the wine you like rather than what others tell you to buy.

Taste is a very personal thing. A very expensive bottle of Malbec won't mean much if you don't like the full bodied feature of this type of wine. Stick to flavours you like and if the snobs tell you that your beloved Pinot Grigio isn't noble enough, don't bother. They probably won't hang out with you next time you enjoy your white wine choice anyway.

It is a good idea to know the basics about the grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Chardonnay, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Pinotage, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, the list goes on. It is important to figure out if you are more of a white, red or rosé wine type of person, and not to show off, but for your own joy, choose the grapes that match your palate better. But ultimately, trust your instinct.

Be price smart

A number of discount shops and supermarkets buy bottles of wine in units that some other shops are not interested in. Some supermarkets only buy bigger stocks, so if the winery is left with a few boxes, they sell at a discount price to discount shops for a fraction of the RRP. If you are not a snob about where you buy your wine from, you can find absolute gems with a very small price tag.

White wine with fish and beef with red, right?

Yes, but not always. There are subtleties about every wine, the soil where the grapes grow, the type of barril the wine is stored, so matching food isn't necessarily a straight forward business. Even if lamb and Cabernet Sauvignon are a match made in heaven, some types of fish aren't always paired with white wine. A lighter Pinot Noir or a rosé made with Syrah, for instance are wonderful with salmon and lobster, so have an open mind.

Read the label

There is a lot of relevant information on the wine label. The year, the type of wine, the country. All of this are the basics for you to decide which one to take home. Then, some wines come with awards, which are usually a good indication of a better quality drink. It is also handy to know what AOC and AOP when you buy French wine, even if some rules have been changing. But, in general terms, these means that some wines are made of grapes that were grown in controlled regions (AOC) whereas other have their appellation d'origine protégée with very restricted and strict rules on geographical and quality control. Don't dismiss the VdT (Vin de Table) or house wine. Some countries are so good at making wine that even their simple choices are delicious. I recommend Portuguese and French for this matter.

There is so much to learn about wine it can be daunting. But don't forget the most important lesson, though: have fun with it.