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
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
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
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
Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.