As mentioned above, choosing a good wine is entirely dependent on the tastes of the person (or persons) who will be drinking it and their tastes. When you’re choosing a bottle of wine, it ultimately comes down to two things- what flavors you like out of wine, and how much you want to spend (if you’re not usually a wine drinker then skip ahead a little as we will cover that as well).
A bottle of good wine is something that will make you feel- it should evoke emotions in you, whether that is a simple pleasure or an emotion that is attached to the event that you previously drank it at. Wine should be an expression of the time.
The best way to absolutely guarantee a good wine is to opt for a well-known grape from a well-known wine region, so for a really safe bet, choose something from the Bordeaux region of France or the Napa Valley. These wines will come with a heavier price tag but are more likely to guarantee you to enjoy the wine you are drinking.
Alternatively, if you are looking for something a little more budget that will still be a good wine then research the vineyards that are close to the well-known and famous ones and buy from there. These vineyards are likely to have a very similar style of terroir (environmental factors), having similar weather and similar soil, just missing the price tag of existing reputation.
Know What Flavors You Want
Wine is made up of three major taste points- sweet, from the natural sweetness of the grape, sour, also from the natural flavors of the grape- often referred to instead, as crisp, tart, fresh, etc, and bitter- referred to instead as tannin. Tannins are a naturally recurring bitter flavor that is found in fruit skins, seeds, and other things such as tree bark and tea bags. If you’re still not sure what tannins are, then it’s the taste you get when you leave a tea bag in the cup for too long.
It’s important to note that every wine contains a balance of each of these flavors, so it’s not necessarily as easy as just choosing one and going with that. However, these three bases will give you a really good idea about which direction to go in. Typically the lighter body that a bottle of wine has, the fewer tannins it has, and the more likely it will be erring on the sour side of flavor.
If you are relatively new to wine, then it’s good advice to steer clear from wines with heavy tannins. While not everyone is the same, tannins can be a bit of an acquired taste and particularly for beginner wine drinkers- why jump in at the deep end?
Know Which Type of Wine You Want
If you know that you or the person you are buying for has a particular preference for rosé, then no online quiz or article should tell you to buy a red, a white, or a sparkling (unless it’s a sparkling rose of course). While it is a good idea to try different kinds of wine to expand on what you know that you enjoy, try to explore within what you already know first. That means if you already know that you like light-bodied white wines like Pinot Grigio, try other light-bodied white wines like Sauvignon Blanc.
It can be useful to know that there are a lot of different aspects that can affect the flavors of the wine. This can mean that you have one Sauvignon Blanc, for example, grown and bottled in New Zealand and you love it, but you try another, say from Australia and it’s much less to your taste. This can be very frustrating, especially for someone who is trying to choose a good wine for beginners. There’s a simple reason for this though.
Everything can affect the flavor of a wine, from the type of soil that it was grown in, to the amount of rainfall vs. sunshine that year. Grapes grown in a cooler climate will take longer to ripen, and so produce a wine that has more acidic qualities. Grapes that are grown in a warmer climate ripen faster, so the naturally occurring sugars are more prominent in the wine production process.