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Wine buying guide
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Purchasing wine can be a confusing and intimidating task, however it doesn’t have to be. Keep a few of these pointers in mind the next time you set out for your next bottle.
First consider what you will be paring it with such as red meat, fish, chicken, dessert or nothing at all, and in that case you want it to be able to stand alone. Certain wines contain a higher sugar content than others, and those that are lower in content also tend to be dryer. However, keep in mind that regardless to what you are trying to pair the wine with, you still have to like it. Traditionally white wines pair well with fish and white meat, however if you are not a fan of white wine do not feel like it is your only option as there are a few reds that will also go nicely with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Finer restaurants often offer the services of a sommelier to help guide you through the wine selecting process. In most cases wine shop and wine bar employees are very knowledgeable on the wines that they are selling and should certainly be able to help.

Second, establish a price point. The price tag on a bottle of wine can be as little as under five dollar to well into the hundreds even thousands. You don’t have to break the bank to find a great wine. Wine tastings are a great way of discovering new wines, as when given the opportunity it’s always best to try before you buy. You don’t want to spend $50 on a trying a bottle for the first time only to discover that you don’t even like it. Higher price tags don’t always mean higher enjoyment.

Third, only purchase multiple bottles of on wine if you have already tried it, and find it to be a good and reliable wine. Don’t get stuck with several bottles of a brand or vintage that deems disappointing only because the sales clerk promised otherwise. Remember, one man’s pleasure is another man’s grape juice! Once you do find a tried and true reliable wine that you like, feel free to buy multiple bottles of that vintage. Many times retailers offer a discount when you purchase six or more bottles, so make sure you ask before handing over your credit card.

Lastly, if you are purchasing wine for an online wine retailer, or are planning on having wine shipped to you direct from a winery, research your state laws on the shipping of alcohol. Right now there are 23 US states that have a ban on out-of-state wine producers shipping direct to consumers’ homes. Click here www.wineinstitute.org to review state shipping laws.


Wine varieties

Wine varieties are variously evaluated according to a wide range of descriptors which draw comparisons with other, non-grape flavors and aromas. The following list provides a brief and by no means exhaustive summary of typical descriptors for the better-known varietals.

Red varieties
Cabernet Franc - tobacco, green bell pepper, raspberry, freshly-mown grass
Cabernet Sauvignon - blackcurrants, eucalyptus, chocolate, tobacco
Grenache - smoky, pepper, raspberry
Malbec - violet, plums, tart red fruit, earthy minerality
Merlot - black cherry, plums, tomato
Pinot Noir - raspberry, cherry, violets, "farmyard" (with age), truffles
Syrah/Shiraz - tobacco, black/white pepper, blackberry, smoke
Zinfandel - black cherry, pepper, mixed spices, mint

White varieties
Albariño - lemon, minerals
Chardonnay - butter, melon, apple, pineapple, vanilla (if oaked, eg vinified or aged in new oak aging barrels)
Chenin Blanc - wet wool, beeswax, honey, apple, almond
Muscat - honey, grapes, lime
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio - white peach, pear, apricot
Prosecco - apple, honey, musk, citrus
Riesling - citrus fruits, peach, honey, petrol
Sauvignon Blanc - gooseberry, lime, asparagus, cut grass, bell pepper (capsicum), grapefruit, passionfruit, cat pee (tasters' term for guava)
Viognier - peach, pear, nutmeg, apricot


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