From the Greeks an age ago, wine has enjoyed popularity as that most celebrated of drink; a good wine can convey emotions, set the tone for an event, and compliment the perfect meal. Choosing your wine from a selection as diverse and numbered as grains of sand on a beach, then, can be a difficult task: what grape do you prefer? what year? what vineyard? There are as many questions as you can dream up when selecting a wine for an occasion, but there are some simple ways you can narrow down your selection.
First, and most importantly, is the grape used to create the wine itself. Grapes have identities, personalities, and that personality is passed onto the wine as the grape ferments and matures. You have reds, which generally have a dark, moody tone to them: good for romantic engagements and to complement lighter foods, a good red wine can be the key to your perfect evening.
White wines, on the other hand, are made with much lighter grapes. They’re used to cleanse palettes, and to complement heavier meals. Speaking engagements, meetings, celebratory dinners, and even your hand cooked steak at home are perfect mates to a well selected white wine.
As important as the type of grape you select, the vineyard where it was cultivated and harvested has a complex and textured effect on the flavor of the wine. A more northern vineyard complements the grape with cooler temperatures, shorter summers; the grapes produce more acid and become an altogether different flavor than a more southern grape on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The climate when a wine is bottled edges and sharpens the flavor: something as minute as the humidity in the air for a given day will create a pang of flavor, a slice of flavor from million-piece whole. Selecting the proper age for your wine is as much about experience as anything else: certain years will produce overall flavors and personalities as global climate shifts to and fro.
Wineries around the world have cellars full of bottles, some dating back hundreds of years, some dating just a few months: the flavor of a wine begins as a straight line, but as age and time takes toll, the line shifts, jutters, and moves about. Creating the proper picture for your moment with a wine is all about knowledge and, through the use of that knowledge, a proper selection; this knowledge is only truly gained through your tasting experience, because each person’s palette and experiences in life shape their tastes. Wine is as much a living creature as you or me, and treating it well will help encapsulate and crystalise a moment in time, a feeling, a dream.