Bernadotte wine bottleIf you’re throwing a dinner party or barbeque this summer, choosing the right bottle of wine to accompany your dishes and please your guests can be a tricky endeavor, as now more than ever there is such a wide variety of countries, grapes, and regions to choose from. There are, however, a few practical and taste factors that can help simplify your decision and make your long walks up and down the wine aisle a thing of the past. So here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing your next bottle of vino.

Decide on your price point

Sometimes it can be nice to splurge on a nice bottle of wine to toast a special occasion or major event, but for the most part buying a bottle is no different than buying other types of groceries. There are plenty of options for all budgets, and it will narrow down your choices substantially if you know how much you’re willing to spend.

Will the wine be accompanied by food?

If the answer is no, then you can skip this question and get into the nitty-gritty of choosing what grapes and regions you like best, but if the wine is for a meal there are a few things to keep in mind. For an aperitif it is best to choose a lighter white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc, or if it’s an early summer afternoon you can even try a Rosé. Sweeter and fruitier whites like a Pinot Gris or Grigio are good with light dishes, and for richer foods and meats you usually will want a mature red wine, such a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. It can also be fun to pair the style of your food with a wine from the region it comes from—for example, if you’re roasting lamb, try a bottle of New Zealand wine. You can usually find reasonable bottles from retailers like Tesco and Trader Joe’s also has wonderful selections.

The tricks for a tasting

When tasting wine there are a few tricks that can help you decipher the quality of the wine, but remember, nothing is more important than personal taste.

1. Swirl the wine

Swirling the wine in your glass allows oxygen into it and opens up the flavors, or notes of the wine to give an enhanced taste.

2. Look for the legs

After you swirl, keep an eye on the wine as it slides down the walls of the glass, and note the speed and viscosity of it. Remember, wines that are more concentrated and usually older tend to have a slower descent.

3. Test the color

Angling the glass slightly on its side over a lighter background (usually the palm of your hand or a table) can help you decipher the color of the wine—less refined wines tend to have a more watery color.

Be sure to diversify

It is easy to stick with the same bottle of wine once you’ve found one you like, but just like eating a variety of dishes from a variety of cultures, the more types of wine you try the more open your taste buds will be to enjoying new flavours.

So if you’re thinking of having a get-together and want to try something fun, why not pick up a few bottles of wine and start exploring the product of a centuries old craft.

Image by Dominic Lockyer used under the Creative Commons license