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How to pick the right bottle of wine

woman shopping for wine
Being an adult means you can buy a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass and enjoy the fruits of a winemaker’s labor. But how do you choose the right wine at the grocery store or when you’re eating out? We have some quick and easy advice to help uncork this age-old mystery.

Know the styles of wine
Your choices are red, white, sparkling, rosé, dessert, and port. If you haven’t tried all of them, find your way to a winery or two and give them a taste. Wines are often sectioned off at the store and on the menu by these styles.

Know the types of wine
When someone says they’re sipping a Sauvignon Blanc or a Merlot, they are referring to the type of grape used to make the wine. Some people swear by Chardonnay, while others will only drink Zinfandel. It’s okay to find a wine you like and stick to it. But if you do, you’ll be missing out on other great wines.

Experts will tell you that just because you don’t like one white wine, doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with another.

Alex Sokol Blosser, a renowned winemaker and second-generation winegrower with Sokol Blosser Winery (sokolblosser.com), understands how growing regions, grapes, and preferences all play a role.

“There is such amazing diversity of styles, grape varietals, and wine regions that saying, “I don’t like white wine,” just means to me that you have not had the one yet that you like.”

Alex grew up working in his family’s vineyards and winery. Today, he’s the co-president. And even though he knows more than most about grapes, fermentation, and tasting notes, he’s not afraid to use Vivino, a free app and website that helps find the perfect wine.

“You can take a photo of the wine label in a store and it [Vivino] gives you reviews of that wine and some consumer feedback,” Alex added about the free app. “You have to punch in the name of the winery if you’re in a restaurant.”

Parings matter (but only so much)
The old adage states that a person should pair beef with a red wine and chicken or seafood with a white wine. But what about pasta? Pork? A bag of chips? What you drink and the food you pair with it are entirely up to you and your palate.

Look for the ABV
Like rich, bold flavors? Choose a wine with an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 13% or higher. Anything with an ABV of 12% or lower will be lighter and drier.

Notice the awards
Upon quick glance, it might seem that every bottle on the shelf has won an award. But look closer, and you’ll see that it may actually be the winery that won the award for an entirely different wine. Look for specific wines that have been recognized for excellence.

Read reviews and tasting notes
But instead of being swayed entirely by what is written about the wine on the bottle, or what other people like, look for things you don’t like. If you are not a fan of buttery flavors in your wine, don’t buy one that touts that flavor.

Ask for help
Your server or the grocery store’s wine steward will be more than happy to make suggestions. Let them know your budget, what you like (or don’t like), and see what they recommend. Chances are, you’ll find a new favorite to add to your collection.