There is no hard and steadfast rule when buying a good bottle of white wine. Everything depends on the buyer’s personal preferences. Even so, there are some points you need to consider if you want to make sure your next bottle is a good fit for your taste.
If you like white wine, here are some tips to help you decide what to buy.
1. Know your personal preferences
When buying wine, start with what you would normally like in your drink. Do you prefer sweet over bitter-tasting beverages? Would you like something that has more citrus or tropical aromas in it? As to the overall body of the wine, would you like it to be light or bold? The questions and the answers are endless. As mentioned, it all depends on your preferences. Some drinkers would also factor in the health benefits that they can get when choosing wine.
2. Match your wine with the occasion
White wines go very well with light meats like fish and chicken. But wine pairing doesn’t only mean matching wine with your food. You also need to take the occasion in mind when opening a bottle of white wine.
For example, a housewarming party may require a different wine than an afternoon picnic or date night. You might even want a special wine when you’re alone making a toast to yourself for a job well done as compared to, say, a game night with friends.
3. Know the key winemaking jargon
Just like any industry, winemaking has countless terms and phrases that may not be common knowledge to most people. Just take any wine bottle and look at the label. You’ll see that it’s printed with several terminologies that look like secret codes. Even those who claim to have a lot of experience in buying wine cannot know all the buzzwords about wines.
Be that as it may, you need to know some of these terms printed on the labels if you want to shop for good white wine.
- Complex – this indicates that the wine you’re holding has a rich, bold flavor, and its character goes through stages, from the second you take a sip and even a few minutes after you ingest it.
- Hand-picked – this means that the winemaker did not use machines when harvesting the grapes from the vines. As a result, you can expect that time and extra care have been given when selecting the grapes. Great wines can only come from grapes that received a lot of TLC.
- Vieilles Vignes – this is a common description you’d find on wine bottles. Literally, it means old vines. If the grapes used in making wine come from old vines, the wine is likely to be more concentrated and bolder in flavor.
- Oaked or un-oaked – winemaking involves several techniques. These can vary from one winemaker to another. A producer may decide to age the wine in oak barrels to add more character. When aged in oak, tannin becomes more detectable in the taste and a hint of creaminess in the wine is also added. However, the structure of white wines depends more on acidity as they do not have tannins.
It should also be noted that not all wines need to be aged. Some wines are not fit to be stored for decades.
- DOCG, DOC, and IGT – these abbreviations are printed on Italian wines and they indicate regional certification. These show the set of standards that the winemaker followed when making wine, from growing and harvesting grapes, fermentation, aging, and bottling of the finished product.
DOCG wines have met the strictest standards and have undergone rigorous tests for quality and geographical authenticity.
DOC wines have undergone similar qualifications, but the standards are more relaxed compared to DOCG.
IGT wines do not meet the criteria set for DOC wines, but nevertheless have good quality for most drinkers and enthusiasts.
- Appellation or region – this indicates the location where the grapes were grown. A region may refer to a country, a region of a country, or a much more specific geographical unit. There are strict rules that govern the referenced appellation of wines.
For instance, for a wine to be labelled a California wine, it must be made from grapes 100% produced in California. Another example would be chenin blanc, a variety of white wine grapes known for their versatility and high acidity which are good for sparkling and dessert wines. These grapes are produced solely in the Loire Valley in France.
- Vintage – this indicates the year when the grapes were harvested, although the wine itself may have been produced at a much later date.
- Alcohol by Volume – abbreviated as ABV, this is the universal standard for measuring alcohol content. It indicates how much alcohol there is in your bottle of wine.
4. Don’t decide based on price alone
Price plays a key role when buying wines. But ultimately, what makes a wine valuable is the taste and not the price. Remember, the price of the wine does not always reflect its quality.
When buying white wine, it’s a good idea to check out the sale section. Usually, stores would slash down prices of wines because their inventory has not been moving or the wines are just not in season. But just because wines on sale are cheaper doesn’t mean they are low quality. Discounted wines are often hidden gems.
If you want to save on quality wines, you might want to buy it by the case rather than by the bottle. But if you go this way, you need to know how to safely store your wine to prevent them from going bad before the perfect occasion to drink them arrives.
5. Buy online
Wines are increasingly being sold online. This means that your options are virtually limitless. Gone are the days when your choices were constrained by what your neighborhood wine store offers. Today, you can order wines and have them shipped from anywhere in the world. But you do need to check if your state has restrictions on wine importation. Generally speaking, though, online shopping has allowed many enthusiasts to save time and money on wines.
Choosing and buying your white wine does not have to be complicated. Sure, discovering what you like and don’t like about wines can go a long way when defining your taste profile. But your preferences don’t have to be the same as that of a sommelier’s and your choice of white wine shouldn’t cost more than what you can afford.
When it comes to buying and drinking wine, your enjoyment should come first above any other criteria.