How do you know quality wine?
Wine is the go-to drink for many and it’s popularity will certainly never waver, considering it originates to between 6,000 and 3,000 BC! It’s easy to drink, can be enjoyed cool or at room temperature, is great all year round and works perfectly as an accompaniment to food or simply as an evening tipple.
With our evolving taste buds, differing harvests and also the quantity of new offerings out there as well as ways to purchase the product, it is practically impossible to find one or two that will suit you for the rest of your days. And that takes away the fun of finding new flavours doesn’t it? But finding the right wine isn’t easy either – is it simply down to personal taste or is there more to it? And where is the best place to find a quality wine? We’ve tried our best to answer these questions for you so you can narrow your search and just enjoy the journey to finding some fantastic, flavoursome wines for your collection.
Where to buy
Online stores such as Berry Bros, The Wine Society and Lay wheeler have a great reputation along with years of dedicated experience in offering a fantastic selections of wines. The options are far greater than what can be found on store shelves and you can get bundles chosen for you, regular discounts and also top recommendations from other wine enthusiasts.
Don’t dismiss supermarkets entirely as they employ wine buyers, whose jobs are dedicated to finding a great selection of wine at varying prices for you to buy, from areas dedicated to their expertise. Waitrose has a team of seven with a range of experience with three members holding the master of wine qualification. Highly recognised in the industry as the highest standard of professional knowledge, they are not easy to come by with 382 holders across 29 countries, so you know you are in good hands if someone has the letters MW after their name. The popular store offers over 1,000 carefully selection varieties of wine – imagine all those tastings!
Often some larger supermarkets will look for deep discounts from wine suppliers, which smaller companies simply cannot afford, so look to your local wine shops and independent online retailers who have no such requirements therefore you won’t miss out on any quality wines. And these may just be run by industry experts too.
What to look out for
Read the label on the bottle, there are great indicators on the quality of what’s inside – does it list grape variety, vintage and region? Or at least two of the three? If so, you know this contains quality wine – and the more specific the region the better. Seek out the alcohol percentage – the typical number is between 11-15% abv, and anything outside of this will likely be unbalanced, so go for 13-14% abv. Look out for a seal on the back label of old world wines too as this indicates that certain standards have been followed when making the wine. Also keep an eye out for stickers on the bottles that showcase any awards won – there’s no better recommendation than from the professionals who spend their days working in the industry.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for a promotional leaflet with wines as they will indicate discounts and great offers that you can take advantage of – these can be found in parcel deliveries from online retailers, and in stores and shops.
Try it yourself
So, you’ve purchased the wine from a good source, either taking their recommendations into account or you’ve researched yourself, and now is the time to really find out if the drink in your hand offers the optimum quality. So, open it and find out! First, take a sniff of the wine and if it has fruity or floral aromas and actually smells like what you would expect, rather than a wet sock or glass of vinegar, then you’re off to a good start. Next, take a sip and consider if the drink has balance – you’ll want to ensure that there isn’t an overwhelming taste of alcohol, acidity or tannin and that the wine instead has a freshness that you like and doesn’t make you pull an unpleasant face!
Take another sip and consider if there is a good depth of the wine, taking into account any other flavours that surpass the fruitiness and, finally, swallow the drink and see how long the flavour sits on your palate – the longer the better. If your drink ticks all the boxes and you like the taste too then you’re certainly on to a winner, so make a note and order a few in so you have a bottle or two to hand when you fancy a tipple.