How to: Choose fine wine
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where to shop

Prieser recommends beginning by visiting local wine sellers until you find someone whose recommendations you like.

Food and wine marriage
Wine, by design, is meant to be served with food. When selecting wine its important to consider what meal it will be paired with.

Like any good marriage, one partner (wine), shouldn't overpower the other (food). For example if a dinner is very spicy, and the wine is too light, the food overpowers the wine.

Ask how the food is being prepared. Is it being grilled, baked? Will it be coated, breaded, seared? What spices are included? What sauces accompany the entrée? Answers to these questions can help determine a complimentary wine.

Color blind

It's red with meat, white with fish, seafood and poultry, champagne for celebrations, right? Not so fast.

"In this day and age in America we no longer follow old rules of thumb of red with meat, white with fish. Foods are so fused today. Fish for example, may have a red sauce, and you can have red wine — light red — with it," says Prieser After you select a color, there are many varietal choices to make. For instance, you may settle on a red, there are choices within reds such as Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz. It will depend on your palate and the food that will accompany it.

Tell your wineseller your taste preferences, like light, full-bodied, fruity, etc., to help narrow the selection.

Wine gifts

Bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party or as a house-warming gift presents a different challenge. If you are unsure of the host’s menu, the door is still wide open to make a good selection.

Consider champagne or sparkling wine — it’s refreshing taste is a perfect accompaniment to many dishes. Another suggestion: Go with a nationality.

Visiting a host of Italian decent, or a family that likes to eat Italian food? Select an Italian red.

Preiser suggests you bring two bottles of wine — a red and a white — if you are unsure of what is being served.

How much should you pay?
“Unless you are rich, there’s no need to spend $100 on a bottle of wine. For $10 to $60 you can get just about anything you want,” says Prieser.

Advancing your knowledge
If like to do your own research, there are many easy ways to learn about wine. Prieser recommends reading wine columns in newspapers and magazines. Often stores have detailed signs describing the wines on display.

You can also advance your wine know-how through special events.


• Find a wineseller who’s recommendations you like. Today’s wines come in so many varieties and from all over the world, it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable wine seller to help guide your selection.

• You don’t have to follow the color guide of white with fish and poultry and red with red meat.

• Don’t get caught up in thinking you have to spend a lot of money for a good bottle of wine. You may like wine that’s under $10 and that’s OK.

• There is not right and wrong way to select wine — go with what you like and with what you think tastes good with food.

• When buying wine for a party, figure on 1/2 bottle per person, and pour a little less than half a glass per serving.

• Temperature does matter: Generally, the richer and "bigger" a wine is, the warmer it should be served. Red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for example, do well at about 63-65 degrees, while whites such as Chardonnay taste better when served at about 53-55 degrees, and then permitted to warm as you sip.

© 2007, Tribune Media Services


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