Buying a new wine can be exciting but also a gamble. If you buy a bottle, there is a chance you just wasted a trip to the store and $20.
However, if you keep a few things in mind when reading the label, you can turn that gamble into more of an educated guess, giving you the confidence to branch out and try more of the 9,000+ wineries out there.
I recently asked a few winemakers what makes the biggest impact on taste when a wine is made. Is it the type of barrel? The varietal? The Region? The winemaker?
Here's what the said.
1. The Region
This is where the grapes are from. There are strict rules for what you can put on the front of a bottle. Regions are specific areas of agriculture that identify where the grapes are coming from. If you enjoyed a bottle of wine of a particular varietal from a certain region like Paso Robles, you are likely to enjoy the same type of wine from another winery of the same region.
The varietal is another word for the type of grape or blends of wine. This is understandably a major part of what makes a wine taste the way it does. However, the key is that there are major differences between the quality of the grape used. That means a cheap bottle of Chardonnay will not taste similar to the high-quality bottle.
Oak is the material used to make barrels in the wine industry. There are different types of oak that have hints of one spice or another, but regardless of the type of oak, aging or fermenting a wine in a barrel will have a significant effect on the taste of wine.
The year the grape was harvested and the wine was made. If you have a wine produced by the same winery from the same grape but with a different vintage, there is a likelihood that the wine will taste different. Each year weather and soil change the characteristics of the wine.