HOW TO: FIND YOUR PERFECT WINE
“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” - Benjamin Franklin
Many an inspired poet and philosopher have penned their thoughts on wine. What is it about wine that conjures up these feelings? Poet Paulo Coelho compared wines to life, saying,
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” - Paulo Coelho
Oh, how we agree with this statement - in the literal sense as well! We’re shocked if it isn’t clear by now that at Brown Bag Wines, we’re head over heels in love with wine.
However, if you are struggling to relate and haven’t yet slid into a gloriously intoxicating love affair with wine, we’re here to tell you that it is because you haven’t met your match yet!
In this edition of what we like to think of as our “Wine Diaries”, we plan on sharing five easy tips on how to meet your wine match. Just like any good relationship, finding the perfect match isn’t easy - but oh so worth it!
Our five tips are aimed at helping you to be more confident in sampling, narrowing down and eventually picking your favourite wines.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of science behind the making, tasting and breaking down the wine profiles. However, our aim as always is to simplify things for you and get you on the right path to finding out what flavours you like.
THE COFFEE ANALOGY
Wine, similar to all other food and beverages, has prominent flavours - sweetness, bitterness, tanginess etc. To elaborate on this point, we thought of using coffee as an example.
Here in Singapore, we just love our coffee. If we don’t brew our favourite joe at home, there’s a favourite cafe we like to get our daily cup of coffee from. Some like the robust flavour jolt of the Kopi O Kosong from your local Kopitiam, while others prefer the luscious sweetness of a cafe latte at the artisan coffee shop around the corner.
Your coffee preference can also be based on the origin of the coffee. Vietnamese coffee is deep and bold in flavour and is traditionally served with condensed milk to mellow it out. On the other hand, Nicaraguan coffee is known to be smooth with a “distinct but mild acidity”.
Wherever the coffee originated from and however it is prepared, you would ultimately base your preference on the flavour of the end product. That flavour you gravitate towards could also hold an important clue to identifying the type of wine you like.
So the next time you are sipping your favourite coffee, take a minute to reflect on the dominant flavours. Now, search for those particular flavours when looking for your favourite wine!
Flavour alone isn’t everything. It is part of the puzzle. There are many ways you can find the right wine match. Here are some of our tips in no particular order:
1. DRINK WITH YOUR MATES
If you haven’t’ had much luck finding your wine match alone, try this:
- Invite a few friends over for a mini wine tasting. You can establish a theme (e.g. Italian white wines). Your topic should be uncomplicated and straightforward
- Start off with a small group. Perhaps four people in total. Too many people = too many options = you lose context of what you are tasting and which wines you like
- Request everyone to bring a bottle - preferably a different variety each. This way you can try various grape varietals, allowing you to narrow down the wines you prefer
- Identify three prominent flavours you fancied amongst the wines you tried. Are these flavours in line with your favourite coffee flavour?
2. START OFF WITH A SIMPLER PROFILE
Less complicated, single varietal wines are the best to start with. The more complex flavours may not only confuse you but put you off as there are a lot more tertiary flavours therein.
“Single varietal” means that a particular wine is made 100% of a specific grape. It is not a blend, not even 5%. Here’s how to pick a single varietal wine:
- Younger wines - less than five years old; older red wines tend to be aged in oak, and that’s where tertiary flavours add to the complexity.
- Best white wines for beginners to start off are Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Moscato (Australia), Riesling (Germany) and Pinot Gris (Italy)
- Best red wines for beginners are Merlot (France), Pinot Noir (New Zealand)
3. CONSIDER THE CONTEXT
Think of the environment you'd be drinking the wine in - the weather, the company, the occasion, the time of day and the place. For example, if you are gifting the wine to your boss or if you are hosting an early evening barbeque (which calls for a fresh and crisp white or a light red).
We would recommend a sparkling wine and a full-bodied red wine if your dinner involves friends and a birthday celebration that would involve a toast.
4. SHOP AROUND
Just like how you try coffee from different cafes, do the same with wines. Bear in mind though, we advise you to visit a speciality wine shop rather than a grocery store for the simple reason of being able to get help and ask questions. Don’t be shy!
Moreover, wine shops call more exciting and varied options so you will be able to discover more as opposed to trying run-of-the-mill labels. There’s nothing wrong with not liking the first wine you tried. Keep tasting and testing!
5. NOTE THE DETAILS
If you come across a bottle of wine that you absolutely love, look at the back label and note the importer. You can then try another label from the same importer at another time. If you like other wines from the same importer, this could mean you like the type of wines that particular importer brings down as every importer has a specific style.
Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, keep in mind not to judge a wine by its label! Just like books, there are excellent wines with less aesthetically appealing labels as there are not-so-great wines with beautiful labels.
There you have it! Even though our tips may not find you a wine you would love for the rest of your life (cos - people change and so will their taste in wine!), we sure hope these will help you zone in on your next favourite bottle of wine!