Wine is a complex thing. Every bottle is different, every winemaker is different. Every glass is a little different. It’s what I love most about wine. And allthough wine is complex, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Probably one of the most asked questions I receive as a wine blogger is ‘What makes a good wine’? And my response is always the same… a wine that you like. And that answer confuses some people. When I asked that question to winemakers on my first trip to the Napa Valley, that answer confused me a little too. I was looking for characteristics in a wine that I could detect, that would make me go ‘Ah ha, this is a good wine!’ But wine doesn’t work that way.
Order wine like a Sommelier.
When I’m at a restaurant I’m usually asked to pick out the wine. Most people know I am a 2-day course away from being a certified Sommelier. I have to go work in a vineyard for two days, which I plan on doing this Spring. If you’re the one at the table usually asked, and you are not an accredited Sommelier, you can still make it look easy. The first step is discovering what type of wine your fellow diners usually like. If they like a soft white like a Pinot Gris, you probably don’t want to order a tannin heavy Cabernet Sauvignon. The second step is to know a little about food and wine. And this is not as hard as it sounds. Most people tend to order 1 or 2 bottles with dinner, and it’s usually based on preference red or white. If I had to choose one white and one red for a table, without knowing what everyone was eating, I would pick Chardonnay for the white and Pinot Noir for the red.
Here’s a little chart that may help you .
“Light & Fruity” If the sun is still shining and you are just starting the night, a light and fruity wine is perfect because it’s easy to drink.
“Light & Earthy” The intellectuals wine. Light and earthy wines have subtle flavors and complex aromatics. They are great for slow drinkers.
“Bold & Fruity” The classic “Crowd Pleaser” wine. These wines work great to satisfy large groups where preferences are diverse.
“Bold & Earthy” Serious business. The black coffee of wine.
Tempranillo is another super food friendly wine. It’s not too heavy and would go with just about any dinner you ordered. Native to Spain, it can also be found in Portugeuse wines and Argentinian wine. This Hoya de Cadenas 130th Anniversary edition is in our liquor stores now, and it’s a great example of a wine I would put on a table even if I didn’t know what everyone was eating. It’s a blend, featuring Tempranillo, Bobal, Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz. This is an example of a complex wine. Bobal, you may be asking? Yes, it’s a grape that is native to Spain and is derived from the word Bovale, in reference to the shape of a bull’s head. True story. It’s a medium bodied wine and super smooth. This wine is also a fantastic price point, coming in at just $17.99 a bottle. This is a great value, and believe me when I say it tastes like a $30 bottle of wine.
Drinking wine is like an adventure. You never truly know what you’re going to get until you actually experience it. If you are drinking the same wine time and time again, I urge you to try something different. Wine should be an accompaniment to your life experiences–where you are and who you’re with. I love finding people who share the same adventurous wine-drinking mind set I do. They tend to get me out of my wine ‘comfort-zone’.
And now it’s time for my wine of the week….
I have written about Gnarley Head before, but this past week I have tried the Authentic Black by Gnarly Head. Hailing from Lodi California, you can guess Zinfandel is a part of this wine. 50% Zinfandel to be exact, along with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. This is a beautifully rich and rounded wine with flavours of cola, licorice and vanilla. But not sickening sweet flavours, the fruit of the wine is still what made this my wine of the week. Great price point at $20 a bottle.
Have a fabulous week. Till next week, Cheers
Thanks for the simplified breakdown of ordering wine for the group. It’s always daunting to me so I appreciate your guidelines! BTW – I’d had the same aim w what makes a good wine🤔. I wanted a few key indicators it was good but all I was given was “Do you like it?” LOL🙄😊
I completely understand, I get that a lot as well! Thank you for your kind words