Don’t worry! Be happy.
Choosing a wine can be intimidating, but early in my own wine journey I learned a lesson that gave me much-needed confidence. I spent time with one of the world’s leading wine authorities, Clive Coates, author of My Favorite Burgundies, and I asked him, “What makes this wine a good wine?” His answer surprised me: “If this wine makes you happy, and you’re happy you paid X amount for it, then it is a good wine.” Wine’s purpose is to bring pleasure to your life. It’s all about personal preferences, so there’s never a wrong answer.
Find your flavors
How do you determine what style of wines will make you happy? Do some “wine soul searching.” Do you like sweet or savory wines? Creamy or acidic? Light or heavier-bodied? Smooth or with a little texture? Think about examples of wine you’ve enjoyed in the past. Communicate your likes and dislikes and price range (be honest—everyone has a budget!) to the salesperson or sommelier; these indications will allow them to select bottles from suitable regions, grapes, and styles. The more information you provide, the better they’ll be able to present wines that you’ll like.
Sample before savoring
My best (and most fun) advice: Sip as much wine as you can. There are ample opportunities. Wine shops offer free tastings all the time—get on their mailing list or follow them on social media. At restaurants, look at the “by the glass” list and ask the sommelier for a small sip before committing to a full pour. These are great ways to discover new wines and to add to your bank of information about your own likes. The more you’ve experienced firsthand, the easier you’ll be able to pick wine with confidence. Cheers to a new skill!
Recommended by Rita
Say bonjour to three fab (and affordable!) French bottles.
Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, ($16.99)
A blend of pinot noir, chenin blanc, and chardonnay grapes, this bubbly rosé is fresh and light with red fruit notes. It’s perfect for an apéritif—pair it with white meats and fruity desserts.
Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2016, ($11.99)
This Alsace wine goes down smooth, with good acidity. Enjoy it alongside light meals such as salads, roasted chicken, and seafood.
Château Lafont Bordeaux 2015, ($9.99)
Earthy with touches of black currant, this medium-bodied red is built with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot grapes. It’s made for red meats and cheese