It sounds so simple: buy a nice bottle of wine. But how to choose from hundreds of types of bottles from different countries, labels, colors, flavors? What does the price say and what are the best glasses? Wine connoisseur Barbara Verbeek helps a hand.
Too bad but unfortunately: under 5.95 euros you can not find good wine in the store. Remember that the bottle, the label, the cork or the screw cap, the packaging, the VAT, the sellers margin and the transport without wine already cost about 2.75 euros. So then you can calculate what is left for the winegrower himself.
In short: a wine you buy for 4 euros has about 1.25 euro wine value in the bottle. Thats not really much, is it? Especially at this time, we want to know what we put in our mouths. We choose better products and it may also cost a bit more. Who knows, its time to drink a little more expensive and therefore better.
When choosing a wine, it is important to know something about the taste styles of the grape varieties. Sauvignon blanc, verdejo, riesling or pinot grigio for example generally give a fresh, white wine. If you take a sip of a sauvignon blanc, its like taking a bite of a fresh, green apple. The wine tastes refreshing with its high acidity. A sauvignon de Touraine from the Loire region is a wonderful example of such a wine.
you dont like the sour apples but you are more of tropical fruits, then take a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Most of them like that! The chardonnay grape has many “faces”. You have wines with light, fresh and mineral flavors up to creamy, round and fat. For example, a Chablis is a mineral chardonnay without wood, but if you take a Californian chardonnay, you will taste butter babblers and vanilla.
Are you more of the red wine? Then choose a spätburgunder from Germany. An elegant, very fruity red wine that you can also cool well. The nickname of this grape is the diva. Very elegant and a big star! Do you like hearty powerful red wines more? Choose the tempranillo crianza or (gran) reserva from the Ribera del Duero in Spain.
This wine has been aged in oak barrels for six to twelve months. Thus, the wine gets its smoky wood tones. Tempranillo without mentioning crianza or reserva on the label, you can cool slightly and get a very accessible, fruity red wine in the glass.
The colder, the better? Well, not really… the fridge is usually at 4 degrees, and its always too cold for wine. The colder a wine, the less you taste. Simple wines can be served at 8 degrees, good sparkling rosé and white wines around 11 degrees and more expensive, wood-aged wines can be served at about 12 to 16 degrees.
Huge hip are fruity, fresh red wines that can be served lightly chilled. Delicious with a winter barbecue or as an aperitif. Most red wines such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir are best at a temperature of between 14 to 16 degrees.
The “wine connoisseur” often calls that you need to serve red wines at room temperature, but thats old-fashioned. This is because room temperature is about 21 degrees today. And that in your glass? Gatsie! How do you know if the wine is too hot? If you stick your nose in the glass and only smell alcohol (that pokes a little in the nose).
Simple: Always use tapered wine glasses. So not the camping glasses with thick edges and neither of those trendy design glasses that run wide above. This form screams: All the smell and taste from the glass! And also do not take too large glasses; with large glasses the taste of the wine distorts and the taste almost always becomes alcoholic (that burning in the throat and mouth). Only use large glasses if you have very large wines at home! Always hold the glass by the leg (leg/stem). That saves dirty fingers on the glass and the wine doesnt heat up too quickly because of your hands.
And just about pouring the glasses. Never pour the wine to the brim. Pour a glass just below half, thats full enough. On average, a catering shop pours five glasses from a bottle, which means 15 cl per glass. A full glass of wine gets hot too quickly, you can not roll the wine well and it does not look chic. The eye wants some too!
The one who orders the bottle must taste the wine. Taste if you like it? No, to check if the wine is in good quality. If you do not like the wine, you may not return it (only if the host or sommelier has very clearly advised this wine to you). The bottle can only be returned if the wine has an error, cork for example.
This is also possible if you buy the wine in a store; you get a new bottle. How to choose corkrecognizes? It is a typical fungal cellar smell, think of a dishcloth that has just been on the countertop for too long. Wines with a screw cap can also have the deviation cork, after all it is a bacterium. So if a piece of cork floats in the glass, it doesnt mean that the wine has “cork.”
Today, there are more and more bottles with screw cap. That says absolutely nothing about the quality of the wine. Dont cork either, by the way, theyre just both bottle closures. Open the wine with a real waiter knife. These days are everywhere for sale and not expensive. With the blade, cut off the capsule and then pull out the cork with a lever with a corkscrew. Unfortunately, some still pull out the cork right through the capsule. Shame: with the beautiful cut off of the capsule, the real wine connoisseur begins to enjoy.
Organic, very logical? Yes! If you can choose between organic or ordinary wines, I would always opt for organic. Organic is often a little more expensive, but it is healthier for the vineyards, the winegrowers, their team and for yourself. For organically grown grapes, synthetic pesticides should not be used. So less poison in nature and in our bodies.
Would you like to try different wines? Then meet with friends to go to a wine bar – if the weather is possible – and order wine by the glass. So you can taste different styles, ask questions to the professional crew and have a fun evening. Also, many wine shops regularly organise wine tastings.
Take a booklet and a pen, take pictures and describe everything you taste. And do not make the classic mistake by swallowing all the wine, otherwise after a few copies you will not taste anything. And the best wine? Of course, its for sale in the same store to take home. This way you can surprise your partner or friends with a good bottle and you have a good story about it. Success guaranteed!
This piece is in the new WOMAN Magazine (every Saturday at De Cceit).