To say there is plenty of variation when it comes to wine is one hell of an understatement. It’s a little bit like saying ‘Donald Trump is a fairly divisive president of the USA’, or ‘Australia is quite big, really’. With over 10,000 varietals of wine grapes in the world, and an equally jaw-dropping number of wineries, wine styles and labels out there, choosing a wine which you’re confident you’re going to love can be a slightly daunting task at times.
However, there’s no need to fear. With a little bit of know-how, a bit of savvy and a few useful tips, you can quite easily avoid disappointment and ensure you’re getting the good stuff every time.
Read on to discover our top tips for getting a great bottle every time!
Ignore the front, pay attention to the back
We could expand this one to include ignoring marketing spiel of any kind, really. Like most things that we buy, wines feature plenty of carefully designed packaging, which attempts to catch our eye and tries to get us reaching for our wallets without first engaging our brains. We’ve all been guilty of it - we’ve seen a bottle with a particularly funky or beautifully made label, and without a second thought, it goes straight into the shopping basket.
Instead, take a look at the information on the back. While there is a tendency for wine descriptions to be a little bit over-the-top (perhaps another major understatement, there…) if you’re a wine drinker, you probably already know the kind of wine styles you like. Bone dry and minerally, rich and fruity, dark, spicy and complex… these are the kinds of things you should be looking out for, and most labels nowadays will also give food pairing recommendations, too.
Make a note of regions and grape varietals that you’ve particularly enjoyed
While we’re all up for spreading your wings and seeking out new taste sensations, there’s nothing wrong with deepening your knowledge and experience of something you’ve already discovered that you love.
Next time you’re drinking a wine which really gets your tastebuds tingling, make a note of the grape varietal and - even more importantly - the region that the wine comes from. Chances are, there’ll be a wealth of great bottles for you to explore from the same part of the world, and you’ll be able to take your appreciation a step further. It’s a little bit like hearing a great song in your mate’s car, and then going on to uncover that band’s back catalogue and finding more and more that you love.
It’s good to talk
Wine is one of those industries that tends to be populated with really passionate people who love to talk. Whether you’re buying from a wine store or from a dedicated online shop, talking with the people who work there might lead to some seriously good discoveries. Let them know what you’re into or what you prefer to avoid, and maybe they’ll be able to pick out your next favourite bottle!
Take advantage of wine technology
The rise of the wine app has quite neatly demonstrated how wine has been taken from the hands of the dusty old snobs, and has been given a new lease of life by a younger, hipper audience, keen to democratise and enliven the whole scene. The best of these give you access to thousands of reviews, food pairing tips, nuggets of wisdom regarding the vintage, region, storage techniques… all at the swipe of a finger or click of a button.
While the reviews on most wine sites or apps aren’t always to be taken as gospel, they can help you avoid a real dud - something that definitely comes in handy when you’re not sure what to reach for!
Want to take the guesswork out of choosing the perfect bottle?
Start with our fun seven question palate profile quiz here and we'll recommend three bottles for your personal tastes!