How to Choose the Best Wine When Abroad

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

The Secret to Choosing the Best Wine Seems Complicated

Around the world, we use beverages to accompany our meals. Normally, we drink water, juices or sodas. But in some countries, it’s customary to enjoy wine with our meals, such as in France or Spain. This is a cultural aspect, and we often find that we consume wine, whisky, vodka or other alcoholic beverages only on special occasions.

The question then is what to consider when buying wine. Well, there is no straight-forward answer. But don’t be discouraged — read on!

In the hospitality industry, Sommeliers, Chefs and Hoteliers, we offer diverse choices, suggesting wines based mostly on the food and wine paring. But to be honest, we have had no wine tasting training or even special knowledge of wines.

How Then Can We Know Which One to Buy?

Supermarket wine by unsplash
Supermarket wine by Unsplash

Sound advice is to gain basic knowledge of wine, such as origin, type of grapes and flavors.

We could even consider the type of soil, elevation, climate, location, region.

Vine absorbs the nutrients, flavors, textures and identity from all these factors; it forms the culture of the wine, giving it that uniqueness of taste, texture, and aroma.

Château Charmail, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux said:

“This estate is certainly well-located, resting on well-drained, gravelly soils with some veins of clay running through them”.

Ferment It!

Château Charmail spoke of soil, climate, and altitude. Yet other factors will also determine the quality of your wine. After harvest, we refer to this part of the life cycle as its birth. This happens when the grapes are ready to be crushed and fermented. The fermentation process affects the maturing process of the wine, because it now transitions from a fruit juice to an alcoholic beverage.

Wine continues to ripe in wooden barrels where it as it gets older, the fluid adopts some of the flavor of the barrels, combing it with that of the soil to form a unique identity. But the maturity process does not end in the barrel either. Wine will keep on living in the bottle. Of course, the older a wine gets, the more prestigious it will become. Check out my article here about how to store wine properly.

Country of Origin

For many people, the best wines are French for their long-standing excellent reputation.

Vineyards by Unsplash
Vineyards by Unsplash

But there are many other countries producing magnificent wines, like Italy, the United States, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Spain, China, Chile, and Argentina.

Each country produces its unique wines, giving us a plenty of options. Some countries have state-regulated controls, like the AOC in France and the DOCG in Italy.

This guarantees top-quality control. These countries have developed first-class grape varieties. For example, France is well known for its Bordeaux, Gamay, Chardonnay; the United States for its Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and many more. Argentina and Chile produce superb Merlots and Cabernets.

Simple Does It

But how do we choose the wine? Many have asked me: what is the best wine you recommend? My answer?

The best wine is the one that you like most.

When I cook, I will suggest wines I know and tasted for the meals.

Wine O Clock by Unsplash
Wine O Clock by Unsplash

But wine is a living liquid. Therefore, it becomes an organic decision for you, no matter the price, place of origin, grape variety, tinto, or blanco.

Each person likes different wines; some like it more acidy, others like theirs sweet, fruity, or muggy.

A good way to know what type of wine you’re buying is to read the label. It will guide your choice.

However, to have a better understanding of choosing the right one, we need to know the type of flavor of a wine and its sweetness. Also consider with meal we will serve it with. The time of day can also influence your mood and taste: Is it sunny, rainy, hot, or cold?

Understanding the Label

When at the store, consider if you want a wine that you know, or to embark on a wine discovery?

First, decide the origin of your wine and the label will tell us the characteristics of the wine.

Why is this so important to know in what year was the wine produced? Well, the year determines some factors that influence the quality of a wine: was it a rainy or dry year? How much sun did the year have in that region?

But How Could We Possibly Know All These Things?

If you’re going to purchase wine, I suggest a little online research. One of the most effective resources I use is the Wine Spectator. They have great articles and a year-by-year list of the top 100 wines on the market.

Most Valuable Wine-Buying Tip:

My personal point of view is that the price is not that important, because there can be bottles of wine for $400.00 that you will not like, but an $8.00 bottle may just be greatest for your tastebuds.

Here are the key points to consider when buying wine:

  • place of origin,
  • year of harvest,
  • type of grape,
  • taste, dryness, sweetness.
  • price (within budget), and
  • the occasion — for when we will enjoy the wine.

You can’t go wrong following these basic guidelines, no matter where you are in the world.

There is no pre-determined, perfect way to buy wine. Search out the ones you enjoy and identify with it; they will become your favorites. Walk the path of creating knowledge. When wines create memories, you’ve found yours. I would love to know how you choose wines where you are? Become a TCI member for free, and share your wine memories with us.

by: Sebastian Vallejo