A number of considerations can affect our choices when buying wine. The selection available is vast and making the best choice can be a time-consuming exercise if we don’t have some knowledge behind us.
Wine drinkers with an appreciation for both red and white wine can often face a dilemma at the off licence. Wines of all varieties are readily available to suit all tastes and all budgets.
Sumptuous red wine from all over the world can be found for under £5 per bottle. French reds from the Cotes du Rhone-Villages region are a great example of this, offering full-bodied, heavy notes at brilliant prices. Occasionally, fans of Spanish Riojas can take advantage of shops and supermarkets dropping the prices below £5 and any red wine enthusiast would be well advised to join them when the chance arises.
Good white wine for less than £5 is equally simple to find if you know what you are looking for. Recently, bottles of the 2008 Marsanne, Vin de Pays d’Oc from France has been spotted on sale for as little as £3 a bottle and has been described by critics as offering “rather more sunny, apricot and almond-stashed fruit for your money”.
The final decision of red or white usually comes down to occasion. If wine is being bought to be enjoyed with a particular meal, this makes the choice significantly easier.
The basic guidelines read something like: red wine with red meat, game and casseroles, white wine with fish, spicy food, vegetarian food and pasta. For more detail on choosing the particular red or white wine to accompany your meal, the label on the bottle almost always makes some reference, or your wine merchant may be able to help.
However, wine is not only served with food and many of the wines that compliment food brilliantly might taste drastically different when tasted without food.
‘No-food’ wines are not hard to find in these days of wine being commonly purchased as an aperitif in bars and enjoyed in front of the TV with little more than a bowl of nuts for sustenance. The watchword for these wines is ‘smooth’. For wine to taste good on its own, it needs to be low in tannins, which give red wines their dry, tight flavours. Wines like Negroamaro and Rosso di Salento fit the bill here, with their softer, riper tannins and higher alcohols.
For white wine lovers, Shiraz tastes just as great on its own as it does with a curry or a Mexican banquet.
Thank you to Michael for this Guest posting and also to
Stephen Bolen for the photograph.