This is a question that seems to be as existential as “to be or not to be?” “What’s the meaning of life?” or “Are we alone in the universe?” It could make you die of fear when you want to impress your parents-in-law at a diner or a meeting or treat all your friend for a great opportunity.
There are many questions behind this generic one: how to recognize a good wine? How to find the wine which reveals your personality and be aware of what you really like in order to be able to answer clearly to the question “so, what is your favorite wine?”
André Brunel Estate proposes a strategy to see things more clearly. After a recall of the theory, we will propose a few techniques so as to know which are your own tastes and some practical for choosing your wine in particular circumstances.
How to recognize a good wine?
Health benefits of wine. Especially, red is rich in tannins but also in polyphenols. The wine is good for the heart rate and because of the resveratrol present in wines, red wine is good to cure anxiety and depression. A moderate consumption could make people live longer. So because of all these reasons, we understand how it is important to choose it properly.
The essential elements
Everybody knows that tastes and colors are different according to each person, and they might or not might not like a red wine, but some elements will help all people to find a red wine good. One word to sum it up: balance. The quality of tannins, the acidity and the alcohol must be well balanced. More particularly, the red wine which has a more important quantity of tannins and of alcohol and potentially a higher complexity than the white. So it will offer more aging and keeping possibilities, that will have consequences on the aromas and on the final flavor. Do not compromise on the complexity and intensity of a wine.
Reading a label
More practical elements which help you to know better the quality of a wine can be found on its label. Don’t believe all is written. Expressions like “old vines” or “great wine” don’t correspond to any approved signification. Nevertheless some information can be useful, such as “bottled at the estate” (or an equivalent), since the winemaker takes care of the product from A to Z. The AOC but also AOP or IGP testify that wine production answered to some precise specifications.
Also… Don’t forget to check if the wine got a medal, if the grape varieties are mentioned, but especially if there is a mention like “premier cru” or “grand cru classé”, which are signs of quality, more particularly in Burgundy and Bordeaux wines. The vintage is also important to notice, since it will tell you if it was a good year, with perfect climate conditions.
Learn how to know your favorite wine.
Theory is not everything: you must also learn to know and to assume your tastes. To do so, curiosity and professionals help will be very important “friends”.
If you are a beginner in tasting wine, get some help. The hearsay can be the first step: taste of the wine your neighbor or your colleague like will help you to open yourself to new horizons, otherwise the professionals of the wine business are here to help you. Winemakers who organize tastings in the vines or at the estate in the cellar, wine merchants or guides can also help you, starting from your own first tastes to find other wines you may begin to like.
In that case, curiosity is a very good “fault”, contrary to what we use to say: “curiosity killed the cat”. Do not restrict yourself to the wine you already know, to your never changing scale of values. Try all the French wine growing areas, but also the ones from abroad, in order to know if you prefer a full bodied Bordeaux rather than a complex Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a fresh Argentinian wine. Try the organic wines without sulfites, biodynamic wines, some wines which use an aging process in immersion in the seabed, etc. The more you try, the more your palate will be refined.
Know how to choose your wine for a special occasion:
It’s not all about knowing which wine you like: if you become an aficionado of a particular vintage, it’s probably not wise to bring it back systematically whenever you are invited somewhere. The choice of wine is always a balancing act and a compromise in food and wine pairings.
First of all, the most important thing is to match the wine to the dish: help yourself from the regions (a bergerac for a cassoulet, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a daube, etc.), but also from the tastes of the dishes: a fish cooked in lightness and complexity will marry with a light and subtle red wine, while a strong meat will call a tannic and strong wine. For the aperitif, champagne remains a safe bet. Cheeses are surprising: contrary to what we all believe, white wine goes much better with most cheeses!
Quality or price
Price can sometimes be a problem, but without breaking the bank, we advise you, as the saying goes, to prefer quality over quantity. Find a wine you like at a price that suits you, and buy, for example from the producer, several bottles or even cases of the latter. If you receive many guests at the meal, choose the magnum, more economical.
Tips to enhance the tasting
In bulk, here are some tips not to spoil a meal because of a bad surprise about wine:
- First of all, it goes without saying that you must taste the wine beforehand: while it decants in its carafe, test it, check if it needs aeration or that it is not corked. This is in line with our advice above, namely to have several wines of the same vintage, in case you are unlucky and you come across the few percentages of corked bottles.
- Avoid multiplying different wines during a meal, risk losing your palate.
- Moreover, avoid strong alcohol as an aperitif, your palate may saturate and diminish the future taste of wine. We prefer, once again, the aperitif with champagne (or sparkling fine, like the vouvray or the Montlouis fine bubbles).
- Serve wines from the youngest to the oldest, to go towards more taste and complexity.
- The temperature of the wine is essential, hence the importance of having a cellar or a cool place to store it, especially for light red wines that are drunk around 13° or 14°.
- The tasting is obviously in specific glasses that must be changed between each new bottle.
Now you just have to enjoy!
Published : 2023-07-04