For those of you who love wine but don’t know much about it, choosing a glass of wine or purchasing a bottle can be an overwhelming process. Today, we are going to change all that. You see, it’s WineNight’s mission to help you learn about wine as you drink it, and today’s Wine.Life.Style post is no exception. We’re going to let you in on a super easy 2-step hack to identify and find your go-to red wine. (We’ll cover white wines in next week’s post!)
First, so we’re all on the same page, we’re going to start with a brief description of the 3 stages of a typical bottle purchasing process for newbie wine drinkers. (If you’d like to go right to the hack part, just move your cursor a few inches down the page.)
How It Feels To Buy Wine When You Don’t Know Anything About Wine
Phase 1: Enter At Your Own Peril
You walk into a wine store determined to find a bottle of wine for dinner tonight. Standing near the entrance, you look around at the infinite bottles of wine organized by region or sometimes by style. But all this beautiful organization is all for naught, because none of this means squat to you. The longer you stand there looking at the wall-to-wall wine, the more shame you begin to feel for not knowing anything about this beverage you consume on a near-daily basis. But you persist.
Phase 2: All Who Wander Are Not Lost
You are now deeper into the store and your mission: purchasing one bottle of great tasting wine. It’s already been 10 minutes and you’re still wandering the aisles, hoping you find a familiar-looking bottle or a salesperson will ask if you need help. Either way, you feel incredibly confused and overwhelmed, not in a bad way, just how you feel when you’re standing in the cereal aisle at the grocery store or swiping through Tinder on a Friday night. But then, like a Red Sea-parting miracle, you spot a sign that reads: Pinot Noir. Oh, joy! You remember liking that at your parents’ house once. So you head to the Pinot section and start in on the next stage of the selection process.
Phase 3: The Art Of Multi-Tasking
At the Pinot Noir section, you begin intuitively to simultaneously do 3 things: 1) ignore all the writing on the labels because none of it means anything to you; 2) check out the label artwork, hoping you’ll come across a design that inspires you; 3) scan the prices, weighing the consequences of buying a wine over $20. But before you multi-task your way down that wine-buying rabbit hole, you see a familiar-looking label. It’s the one from your parents’ house: (probably) Parker Station. So you purchase it, drained yet satisfied that you’ve completed your bottle-purchasing mission.
You leave the store feeling good about yourself and your selection, but not great. Partly because what should have been a 3-minute errand took you 15 minutes, but mostly because you have this nagging feeling you’re missing out on a wine more suited to your tastes. You just aren’t sure what that is yet.
If this describes your typical experience in a wine store to the Nth degree, clearly, you are not alone. But right now, right at this very minute, you are about to change all that just by reading this post.
How To Find Your Go-to Red Wine
As a wine newbie, here’s the really simple concept you need to understand about wine that no one ever tells you, and we’re not really sure why:
Each type of grape loves to grow in certain regions. Kind of like how David Bowie did great things in NYC and Berlin, but in LA, not so much. Bowie’s time living in SoCal was an interesting experiment, but the environment just didn’t work for him. It’s the same exact thing with grapes. To learn about wine, begin by drinking grapes from the regions in which they love to grow best.
It’s really that simple. But we’ll repeat it so it sinks in: To learn which wines you love and why, the first step is to drink grapes made in the regions they love to grow in. This way you’ll taste each grape’s true essence, how they each resonate with the senses, and learn what your palate likes in this tasting process.
Since you may not know what these grape-to-region combos are at this stage, we have the most popular red grapes listed below. Now you’re just two easy steps away from finding your go-to wine.
Step 1 – Buy Bottles Of Red Wine
Go to your favorite wine store with this list. Check out the wine labels and make sure the grape and region match up. At this stage, do not buy blends. Just buy a bottle made of 100% Cabernet or 100% Merlot so you can really get a taste for that grape. A bit of blend is okay, but 100% is ideal. If you’re still confused, talk to someone who works in the store. They would LOVE to help you.
Popular Red Grapes & The Regions They Love
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley & Bordeaux, France
- Tempranillo – Rioja, Spain
- Pinot Noir – Burgundy, France & Oregon
- Malbec – Argentina
- Shiraz/ Syrah – Australia & Rhone Valley, France
- Sangiovese – Tuscany, Italy
- Merlot – Bordeaux, France & Napa Valley
- Zinfandel – California
Step 2 – Drink Those Bottles
Here’s the fun part. You get to drink. But as you sip those wines, pay attention to what tastes best to you. Give it a good think, not just a good slug. Keep track of your findings, and, when you’ve found your favorite, well, c’est tout! It really is that insanely easy to find your go-to red wine.
There’s a lot more fun to be had learning about wine, but let’s take it one step at a time. We’ll be following up with white wines next week, and Red Wines 101 and White Wines 101 will follow in April.
Once you’ve followed these steps to identify the red wines you love, we desperately want to know what red grape suits you best. Tell us in the comment section below!