Choosing a bottle of wine can be a daunting decision. There are so many labels, bottles, styles, and regions to wade through. If you familiarize yourself with all of the different things you will come across when shopping for wine, you will soon be a savvy wine shopper! Also, your experience with wine shopping will be much easier and will make it easy to share your expertise with friends.
How-to: Be a Savvy Wine Shopper: Wine Knowledge
The taste of a wine can differ based on acidity and sweetness levels. Wine labels often use the terms “sweet,” “semi-sweet” or “dry.” A dry wine will not be sweet at all. Wines with high acidity will be more tart. On the other hand, low-acidity wines will taste rounder or richer.
Wines have unique flavors. A savvy wine shopper will pick a wine that has similar flavors, or notes, like other things that you like. For example, if you have a sweet tooth, you will likely prefer a sweeter wine. On the other hand, if you love the taste of bitter, black coffee, you may like a more acidic wine.
Tannins are phenolic compounds in the skins of grapes. They give the wine a more bitter taste. Tannins also tend to dry out your mouth, but they do not actually relate to the ‘dryness’, or sweetness level, of the wine. Some tannins develop as part of the wine-making process and other times they could be added in. Red wine has more tannins, giving it its uniquely dry and bitter finish. Knowing this will help you be a savvy wine shopper.
While many people get hung up on the age of the wine, it is not that important. It is common for people to think that the older the wine is, the better it tastes. This is only true for some wines. For example, some types of wine will get better with age based on the region it comes from, or the number of tannins, sugars, and acids it has. Typically, red wines age better than white ones. A savvy wine shopper knows that most wines should be consumed within 5 years of purchase.
Wines produced in different regions will have different characteristics and qualities. Wine from areas where wine was originally made is called Old World Wines. These are typically more dry and bitter. Examples of these countries are France, Italy, or Spain. On the other hand, New World wines are the counties that are newer to winemaking. These countries include the US, South Africa, and Australia. These wines are going to tend to be sweeter. Knowing this will let everyone know that you are a savvy wine shopper.
Another thing to know as a savvy wine shopper is the term body. Wines can be described as having a light body, full-body, or somewhere in the middle. This refers to how heavy or light the wine feels in your mouth. Generally, red wines have a fuller body than whites. In the same way, heavy body applies to wines made from grapes that are grown in warmer regions, rather than cooler ones.