I like wine, I like humor. So when Charlotte Rivington offered this guest post, I couldn't resist. Read and learn, my friends.
When he’s not sipping a shaken vodka Martini that is? We all know the scene in From Russia With Love where Bond spots the villain by the fact that he orders red wine with his fish, so how can we avoid getting thrown off trains because we’ve chosen the wrong tipple? We don’t all have the benefit of MI6 training but there are some simple rules that can help you avoid social disgrace and possible untimely demise.
Pay Attention, 007
Right, put down that exploding pen and listen. The basics of choosing wine come down to three Ps, Price, Pairing and Preference. Gone are the days when you had to pay a lot of money to ensure you were getting a decent wine. These days there are plenty of good choices available at affordable prices. A good wine merchant should be able to make recommendations in your price range; just remember there’s a recession and secret service expense accounts have been cut.
Pairing is all about choosing the right wine to go with particular foods. In general, white wines go with lighter foods, as our Russian friend on the train found to his cost, and reds with more substantial meals. Pairing wines with foods isn’t all about science; personal taste is involved too, so don’t worry too much that you might be breaking some unwritten rule.
This brings us to preference. If there are wines you’ve sampled and liked in the past then there’s no reason not to stick with them. But if you want to experiment then don’t be afraid to ask; the retailer or waiter should be able to suggest alternatives based on wines you’ve previously enjoyed.
The World is not enough
Traditionally wines have come from European producers in France, Germany and Italy. Don’t think we don’t know you load the boot of the Aston up on the way back from those overseas trips. Nowadays though there’s strong competition from newer countries and wines from Australia, South Africa, South America and the USA are very popular.
Wines are usually identified by the type of grape used in their production – known as the varietal – but where those grapes are grown make a difference to how the wine tastes. The French have formalised this with the Appellation Contrôlée system that regulates where particular wines are produced.
Again which you drink really comes down to preference so it’s worth trying wines from different regions and countries to discover what best suits your taste.
For Your Eyes Only
So, you’re confronted with a row of bottles and you don’t have anyone to ask. What do you do? Come on, man, your life could depend on this! When you’re buying wine the label on the bottle gives you lots of information but they can sometimes be tricky to read. Labels on New World wines are usually easier to interpret; they show the producer, the varietal, the region where the grapes are grown, the vintage and the alcohol content.
French labels are more challenging as they will show the region. “Vin de Bourgogne” for example is “Wine of Burgundy.” White Burgundy is known as Chardonnay and red Burgundy as Pinot Noir. The label should also show you the producer, estate, vintage and alcohol content.
Most German wines are Rieslings and their labels are fairly easy to interpret though they do often show details of ripeness, sugar level and quality classification which can confuse things. Italian labels can be tricky if you don’t speak the language however, they should show the region, grape type, estate and producer along with the vintage. There will also be some government classifications related to volume, quality and location.
Right, that’s the end of the briefing, go out and buy some wine. Oh and try to bring it back in one piece!
Author Bio Charlotte Rivington loves to blog about delicious Food and Drink covering a range of topics from tasty meals to fine wines.