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How to pick your perfect wine – is that even possible? Is that quest a never-ending source of intrigue? There are evidently so many variables that come into play – your perfect wine last week will likely have been so dependent on where you were, what you were eating (if you were even imbibing said bottle with food), your mood too! And after all, wine is also endlessly complicated and eternally subjective.
That being said, there are certainly common denominators we can decipher to help you get to your perfect wine every time. So let’s get into them!
Know your tastes
Exponentially easier said than done. As we said, wine is so subjective, and often people can’t establish why they like a certain wine – either due to lack of information provided on the bottle, or lack of help on hand (both to be covered later on).
Commonly, the elements that underpin why one likes a wine will be influenced by acidity, tannin, dryness, minerality and body (there are a plethora of other factors, but over the years these are the ones that have most impact).
Those who love a crisp white wine will commonly have a predisposition to liking acidity. These wines are often dry and mineral also, and therefore lacking on the fruity side (NB - fruity wines are sometimes mistaken as 'sweet', another useful note). If that sharp, tangy element to a wine isn’t your bag, then you’ll likely want to err towards lower acid wines.
It regularly crops up that red wine avoiders aren’t fans of the tannic side of the grapes – this is the element that grips and sticks more to your palate and mouth. If that sounds like you, then go for white wines (rarely a tannin in sight), or head towards lower tannin red grapes (Pinot Noir and Gamay are prime examples). Tannin will also contribute to body, as will lower levels of acidity. So, as an example, if you prefer white wines with high acid, you’ll generally be more favourable towards lighter bodied wines.
There is a whole blog article itself that we could go into about tastes and wine terms (watch this space…). Essentially though, any good, engaging merchant will refer to wine in these terms, rather than filling product descriptions with unrelatable jargon. Once you’ve got to this point, you can then start to seek out more wines in the bracket you like. And we’re afraid to say that one of the best ways to get to this point, is taste, taste, taste (darn, what a shame…).
Know your source
Picking a good product, be it anything we choose to add to our lives, not just wine, is almost always underpinned by trust. If you know the person you’re buying from on a personal level, or receive a curated experience from a website you’re researching, you know in yourself that you’ll be acquiring a product that is as close to what you desire as possible – in this case, your perfect wine.
Therefore, we always suggest seeking out your perfect wine from a specialist wine store, or more conveniently for most, buying wine online from a dedicated merchant – a person or entity that you can trust, rather than the faceless behemoth that is Tesco’s.
Know your pros
Professionals are there for a reason – they know their stuff, and for the most part are willing to share their expertise with you to help you better understand wine. We say “for the most part”, as there are still smatterings of pros, even within the more approachable natural wine scene, that still uphold the stuffy and judgmental profile that the wine world has been brandished with at times.
So how do you find the good’uns? For wine tastings, the West London Wine School is great (Shane Jones is a cracking educator), and we have it on good authority that the whole ‘Local Wine School’ franchise is a reputable establishment that most people can access no matter where you are in the UK, thanks to their wide network of schools.
Any wine bar with a solid ‘by the glass’ list (BTG) is often a safe bet to learn more. We’re talking 10+ options BTG – that length of list portrays a team that know their stuff, have taken the time to craft the list, and therefore should regularly be happy to then talk through the styles of each wine with you, to assist you in expanding your knowledge.
Or lastly you seek out a wine subscription – those that offer curation and information on the varying wines you receive each month will go a long way to helping you better understand your tastes, and therefore aid in you finding your perfect wine, every time (check out Plonk’s curated wine subscription here).
Whilst the above are guidelines, every person will find their own to that perfect wine, given how subjective the topic is, but we hope these tips help you on your way.