CHOOSING A WINE
Wine is personal. So, it is what you enjoy that counts. Taste is individual to each palet and must always be regarded as such. You also do not have to imitate and smell or taste what others do, though do tell friends and colleagues if you happen across a good wine. Besides, try to remember the type of fruit flavours prevalent in different wines.
One learns to appreciate wine by trying new varieties. While the price differential could be great, there are good wines at every level, with quality differences narrower than ever. Drinking really unsophisticated wine is fine, but do still try out different types for various occasions. You may love Pinot Noir, thought it’s important that you stop buying it every week simply because of the safe choice it provides.
Branch out and discover something even better than your current favourite. The only wine really worth sticking to is your preferred easy drinking table wine.
If you enjoy a nice Sauvignon Blanc then take a look at a Chenin Blanc. Work up to such experiments. Try the more obvious ones first. If you move from a nice oaky Chardonnay to a Riesling right away you might never appreciate the subtle pleasures of each, which is a bit of an acquired taste for most people, though both can be dynamite paired with the right food.
When teaming-up wine with food the same rules apply. Its fine if you like your oysters with a full-bodied red wine rather than a dry white or champagne, but remember, classic combinations of food and drink are exactly that, and for this reason have proven superior over time.
Though there is considerable room for experimentation and personal expression, pairing the right wine with a meal creates a combination that celebrates and enhances the experience of both. You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur or gourmet cook to enjoy the benefits of the right wine with the right meal.
In general, pair wines to the most intense elements on a menu in terms of sweet, sour, salt, or bitterness. Sauces pretty much top the list as one of the most important elements in a meal, though traditionally you could also identify themes for various menus. For example, is your menu sweet with lots of yams, marshmallows and cranberries? Or is it more on the savory side with bacon, herbs, and garlic playing leading roles? Once you decide on which side of the sweet/savory line a meal falls, you can begin to narrow down accompanying wines.
Wine choice should not be something intimidating. Keep it simple, though bare in mind a few basics related to character, acidity, sweetness, light or heavy and tannin structures. Distinctive characteristics are normally present, even with the same wine variety, mainly depicting climatic and flavour differences, even where grape variety, vineyard practices and winemaking styles are the same. Body, weight and tannin structures are normally more intense in warmer areas.
IF AT A STORE
Decide what is the occasion – i.e. lunch or dinner, eating out, a party or simply stocking up
Don’t ever feel pressured to stick with popular brands
Consider price quality value levels and not only the lowest price
Quality high priced wines are ideal for special occasions
It’s a fact that people drink slower on a good quality wine!
Decide on a white or red wine as influenced by the season
The types of food with which the wine can be paired
Your favorite flavour characteristics
Choose a style of wine:
- matured for 12 months - ready to drink early (medium light)
- matured for 18 months - to keep a while longer (medium)
- matured for 18 months+ - to put away for later (classic).
Consider comparisons from different wine terroir pockets (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc from Durbanville versus Elgin).
IF AT HOME (choice from internet or the like)
As above plus:
- Consider notes from the producer (accessed via wine pocket contact details)
- Take time to also read wine commentary from leading role players
Look at the SAWi food pairing guide