Tag Archives: buying

Wine Not?

1 Feb

So, you decide you want to buy a bottle (or a few, for that matter). You walk into your local LCBO or WineRack and you glance around at all the shiny cylinders. You wander amongst the aisles of foreign names, glance at labels that contain information you know nothing about.

You pick up a few, hold them in your hands. You feel the weight of the liquid gold in your hand, heavy like a library book. You flip it over, start skimming the back – it talks of fruit, vines grown on specific latitudes and producers names you can’t place faces to. You set it the bottle back down, move onto the next. Until you just give up, head to the back to the party zone, picking up a 12 pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and hitting the road.

Well, no offense to Mike, but you’re missing out.

So here’s a beginners guide to walking into the LCBO proudly – and walking out with a stellar bottle of wine.

From the pros – here’s Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library.

First, do some research. Whether this means reading a wine magazine like Vines or Wine Access for starter bottles, or simply googling the best beginner bottles, having read something in advance will not only give you a few suggestions, but make you more confident walking into the store. This means you won’t just bail out and buy a cheap bottle of vodka, but stick to your plan.

Next, if you’re thinking of buying a bottle to go with dinner, try to match it up. There are plenty of wine sites that’ll help you with this task, but the basic standard rules are whites go with fish, chicken and light coloured sauces (including pasta) and reds can stand up to steaks, roasts and heavier pastas.

Third, wander around. Pick up bottles that catch your eye. There is no right and wrong here. Look at which grape varietal is on the bottle (usually on the front, but not always). Good white choices for beginners are Pinot Grigio, unoaked Chardonnay and Riesling, while good reds to start with are Shiraz, Malbec, and Merlot. Blends are often a good idea too – so don’t be afraid of a Syrah-Malbec.

Finally, try it. You’ve got to experiment to figure out what you like. Generally, you’ll figure out a favourite flavour, or even better, a producer that you enjoy. This means you can try other wines that they’ve had a hand in, and hopefully they’ll expand your horizons.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to take a blind leap because no matter how good someone tells you a wine is – it’s your taste buds.

As for the don’ts. Well, don’t assume an expensive wine is automatically good, or write off an inexpensive bottle as cheap. Don’t fall into a wine rut, only drinking German Rieslings. Don’t fall for pretty labels. Don’t only buy wine that’s on the shelf because its someone’s recommended pick.

Most importantly, don’t forget to break the rules. That’s what makes wine fun.