A Beginner's Guide to Wine: Get to Grips with Grapes

Selections of wine, whether you’re in a restaurant, supermarket, or pub, can be vast and overwhelming. There’s a lot of choice so it can be tricky to know where to start and descriptions like ‘full-bodied’ and ‘earthy notes’ make it all the more confusing.

Here are several tips to begin your journey in understanding the basics…

1.      5 Main Types

Wine comes in many forms with strikingly different tastes – the grape is versatile!

Red wine ranges from light to bold and white wine ranges from dry to rich. The other three types are sparkling, perfect for celebrations, the pub-garden favourite rose and dessert wine, which is, yes you guessed it, nice and sweet.

2.      Consider the food you’re ordering

One of the most important factors to consider is what the wine is washing down!  Certain foods go better with white or red so get to know the pairings … White wine couples well with lighter dishes like fish, chicken, and salads while red wine is better suited to heartier meals like steak or dishes with rich sauces.

3.      How do you like your coffee?

Believe it or not, there is a correlation in taste preference between wine and coffee.    For example, if you tend toward stronger flavours like an espresso, you’re likely to enjoy an oaked chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. Cappuccino fans will find a sauvignon blanc or merlot to their taste while latte lovers should opt for a pinot grigio.

4.      Understanding wine lists

Many restaurants will categorise their wine by region or type to make it easier for customers to find their preference. Well known regions for their wine include Tuscany, New Zealand, France, Napa Valley, Spain, South Africa, Australia, and Chile. Wine flights can also be offered, most commonly at wine tastings, to showcase the venue’s recommended selection.

5.      Don’t be afraid to ask the sommelier

If in doubt, staff are always on hand and happy to help. They are trained to know their wines and pairings to deliver an exquisite taste experience. Tell them what food you are ordering and ask for some wine recommendations.

6.      Trust your instincts

Ultimately, it’s up to you. Pick a wine you think you will like, whether you’re feeling adventurous or simply copying a friend’s choice. Trust your instincts and give the grape a go!