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How To Pick a Good Wine

red wine"What's a good wine?" "I'm serving this dish...Which wine should I buy to go with it?"

If these questions sound familiar, you either know your wines or you're ready to learn more about good wines.

Even the Experts Miss Occasionally

Start your lessons with the wine connoisseur's one can tell what a wine tastes like until they open the bottle and take a sip. Honestly, do you think the collectors who buy expensive wines and store them under the perfect conditions never serve a bottle that tastes like bad vinegar or that has been ruined by a cork? Until that first taste, the wine is a mystery.

There are special banquets to pair foods with wines where the people who make the wine select dishes to complement the flavor. Some of the food and wine pairings are just plain awful...and they are chosen by people who definitely know a lot about wine!

The truth is that anyone can get fooled by a highly esteemed label or a well known wine. There are so many factors that make a wine taste wonderful -- or awful -- that picking a perfect wine every time is against the odds for even the most experienced wine lovers. All this should not make you feel hopeless. It should make you relax. If you pick a bad wine, you are in the best company.

Improve Your Odds

So what can you do to improve the odds of choosing a winner? Like horse racing, there are steps you can take to improve your odds. The most basic step is to start drinking wine on a regular basis. Get to know wine. Serve wine with your meals at home -- even if you are eating by yourself. Have a glass with dinner and pay attention to how it smells, the color, where it's from and how it feels as you drink it. Does it taste good, but shout out...drowning the flavor of your hamburger? That's a strong wine that probably should only be served with extra spicy food or try it with a very sweet dessert. Strong wines and strong foods make a good match. Lighter wines go well with more delicate flavors.

The rule of drinking red wine with meats and white wine with fish or fowl is based on that. Most meats have strong flavors and most fish, turkey and chicken have less defined tastes. Most reds are bolder wines and whites are more delicate. Like any rule, this one does have exceptions. There are white wines that are bold and sassy and reds that are no match for a savory meat dish. You have to know the flavors you expect from the meal and make them harmonize.

Remember, a wine doesn't need to be well known or expensive to be good... experiment with different wines to find out what you like. As you sample wines, take notes. Actually write your thoughts down or you'll forget... and include the information from the label so you know which wines made you smile and which ones you wouldn't want to try again.

also see related articles -> Wine with turkey | Wine with lamb | Wine with sushi

Relax and Get to Know About Wines

What kind of grape or grapes did it come from?

You'll find the information on the label. Wine grapes don't all taste alike and the wines take the flavor of the grape. Many wines are made from blends of grapes where more than one grape variety is used. That's not a bad thing, it just mixes several flavors together in one wine. Expert cellarmasters can make a blended wine that will thrill your taste buds. Less honest cellarmasters might mix cheaper grapes in to have more wine to sell.

Who made the wine?

There are some wineries that you can count on to provide a quality wine every time. If you consistently like wines that comes from a specific winery...count on that label to perform for you. If you find a label that is good one time and not so spectacular the next, be careful when buying from that winery. Why take a chance?

Where is the wine from?

You'll want to notice not just the country but the region or even the vineyard. Look for the information on the label. Grapes grow in dirt and take the flavors from the ground they grow in. Some wine regions in France have amazing lavender fields and the wines that grow there have a bit of lavender in the aroma and the taste. If there are a lot of mineral deposits in an area, that will change the taste of the grapes and the wines. Some areas get better sun and that lets the grapes ripen happily, grapes like sunshine, but too much sun will make them dry and the wines won't be as good. In France they call this terroir. Two fields right next to each other can produce two wines that taste very different.

also see -> How to read a wine label

What year was the wine made?

Even the best areas can have a year with cold weather too early, hot weather too late, too much rain or not enough sun. A really good year in a region can mean that even the lower quality vineyards produce a spectacular crop of grapes. A really bad year may make a good wine from your favorite region hard to find. If you know that 2001 was a very good year, you can expect a label with that date to be a good choice. If the year was mediocre, try to avoid it unless you've sampled a wine that is an exception.

Most people who really know wine will tell you that the wine you like is the best buy for your money. Don't fall under the spell of wine fashion fads. Find a wine region or two that you can depend on and a few labels you trust to provide a good wine and you'll be the expert that people look to for advice when they need to pick a winner...

also see -> It was a very good year - wine vintage guides

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