In the interest of maintaining a respectable wine tasting blog for Buenos Aires, I find it necessary to explore the concept of how to choose wine since it is such a frequently asked question at wine tastings.

Several components factor into choosing a wine: price, quality, style, region, variety, food comibnation, mood, previously consumed food and drinks during the day and even the company you are with. This leaves out of course, placement on the shelf, label design, bottle design, and other visual marketing factors that wineries go to great lengths to incorporate. But we will save this for another blog.

The easiest way to choose a wine off the shelf is to go by price and nothing else. Many of us have gone to the supermarket before a dinner party (where the standard is to bring a bottle of wine), and stood dumbfounded before the aisle of 400-500 wines to choose from. What pressure! Well, if choosing wine for a less important occasion, our price goes down; when meeting in-laws for the first time perhaps, price goes up. But as I always say, there is NO direct correlation between price and quality so unless you leave the price tag on an expensive bottle of wine you bought for you in-laws, there is no way for them to know its expensive (unless the know their wines very well).

So the best way, in my opinion, to truly impress, is to actually pick wines of high quality and to use price as a guide for the occasion. But to know the quality you must have tried the wines, or have a reliable source of information as to how determine quality (say the wine shop owner). But then it is your job to remember what wines you bought that you liked that were recommended by that person, and what wines you didn’t.

Style, region and varietal kind of go in the same category which comes down to personal preference. Some love heavily oaked cabernets, some young and fruity malbecs, some always prefer and ask for a chardonnay, and some subscribe to the “abc” policy (anything but chardonnay). This again will come down to trying more wines and recording/remembering what your preferences are or at least being able to describe them. Usually if you can describe them to a wine expert, sommelier or other wine professional, that person should be able to help you pick a wine for any occasion.

These professionals can also help with food combinations. This is a highly subjective area, that has some general rules that should normally be followed, but also a lot of gray area for experimentation. Again, in the long run, finding what you like through trial and error is really the best approach. This is one of the beauties of wine. Trying new ones with different people in different places. Talking about the wine and over the wine. Seeing where it takes you. Seeing if the wine speaks to you.

Salud!

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