Sip of Wine

Selecting a Fine Wine

The selection of a specific type, year and brand of wine is a matter of individual taste. However differences aside, there are a few broad guidelines on which there is agreement, within the confines of price.

With the large number of vineyards around the world and wine-related websites, availability is generally not a problem. A person in California or Caracas can obtain a New Zealand Syrah not carried in local markets as easily as those in Auckland.

Aside from the questions of pairing with food it is important to know if a full red or a light white is desired. Some find Madeira too heavy, while others see a German Riesling as too dry. Many readily available wines are meant to be consumed shortly after purchase, but those with a desire to taste the finest will find that patience is a virtue. Cabernet Sauvignon is better suited to those willing to age than a Pinot Noir.

Cool climate Chardonnays like those from Canada will interest those who enjoy a young wine with prominent acidity. However, this wine is also enjoyed by those who prefer to experience its nutty, honeyed character that is produced with proper aging.

Descriptions by class can sometimes be helpful. Class 1 wines which are often labeled 'Light Wine' or 'Red Table Wine' have between 7 and 14 percent alcohol content by volume. While Class 7, will have an alcohol content no less than 15% by volume. This variety has generally been compounded with Brandy and flavored with herbs. Those that contain greater concentrations are considered to be 'fortified'.

Check the label for a declaration of the amount of sulfites. Many times sulphur is often added during the winemaking process to guard against the growth of unwanted organisms, but some may introduce more than an individuals taste prefers. Sulphur dioxide is also occasionally sprayed on the grape itself to reduce pests and can leach onto the skin. Occasionally a wine drinker is unknowingly sensitive to sulfites and can experience and allergic reaction. Any concentration below 10 parts per million are acceptable for most.

It is important when testing a wine, to cool it to the proper temperature which is around 52F (11C) for whites, and 65F (18C) for reds. It is also important to use a thin rimmed glass that is free of dust. Clean the glass by rinsing carefully and drying it with a lint free cloth.

Pour no more than 1/3 of a glass, held by the stem to keep fingerprints and body heat away from the rim and bowl.

Look for color by viewing the wine against a white background. A Pinot Noir will have the lightness of a ruby, while a Cabernet Sauvignon will be more violet. Wines produced from grapes grown a hot summer and dry fall will result in a darker color, while those from a cool summer and rainy fall will be lighter.

Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.

Sip of Wine

  Cooked or Corked?
  Home Winemakers
  Wine Aging Table
  Wine and Cheese
  Wine and Health
  Wine Grading
  Wine Making
  Wine Storage

Wine Regions

  British Columbia, Canada
  Northern California
  Southern California
  Cotes Du Rhone
  New York

Copyright 2006 by OddSource