Wine - How to Pick Your Poison!
With Halloween right around the corner, and therefore a party or two to be had, make sure you know what you are bringing to the party! Sometimes something tried and true is the best option, but maybe there is something out there that you will LOVE, but have never tried. Here are some tips on finding a new wine!
Discovering Different Wine Type
A wine beginner might know the basic differences between a red and a white, but it’s also important to learn all the wine types and varietals. You can explore everything from Chardonnay to Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel in our guide to the most important red wine grapes and white wine grapes.
Exploring Wine Regions
Wine is made in virtually every country in the world. These countries are often referred to as “Old World” or “New World.” “Old World” consists of regions with long histories of wine production, such as Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. Some of the most well-known “Old World” wine regions include France, Italy and Germany, and these regions focus greatly on terroir—the unique characteristics of the soil and climate, which give their wine a sense of place. “New World” (as the name suggestions) is used to describe newer wine-producing regions, such as U.S.,Australia and Chile. These regions tend to have hotter climates and generally use different labeling methods; they tend to use grapes rather than region on labels for recognition.
While learning how to choose wine, it’s helpful to know some of the major wine regions and the grapes they are best known for:
Most Popular Regions and Grapes
For more information on these popular regions and varietals, explore Wine Enthusiast’s Buying Guide.
Country - Grapes
France - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc,Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay
Italy - Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Moscato, Pinot Grigio
United States - Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay,Merlot, Zinfandel
Argentina - Malbec, Bonarda
Chile - Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc
Australia - Shiraz, Chardonnay
Germany - Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner
Spain - Tempranillo, Albarino, Garnacha, Palomino
New Zealand - Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
South Africa - Pinotage, Chenin Blanc
Reading a Wine Label
At first glance, a wine label can be confusing to those just getting started. Luckily, New World wine producers have made it easier on wine beginners by listing the grape(s) directly on the label. Old World regions have typically relied on the wine consumer to be familiar enough with the region to know, for example, that Red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.
Old World Wines might read like this: Château Moulin de Grenet 2009 Lussac Saint-Émilion
New World wines might read like this: Cakebread 2006 Merlot, Napa Valley
The French wine lists “Saint-Émilion,” assuming the consumer realizes that wines from Saint-Émilion are mostly Merlot. The wine from Napa, California, on the other hand, lists both the region and the grape variety. As you study more about wine, you’ll become more and more accustomed to all the wine varietals and the Old World regions that produce them.
Old World wine producers are slowly realizing that in order to compete on the global market, they need to make it easy on the consumer. But as much as times may change, a deep understanding of how to read a wine label will always be a useful skill.