Reading Between the Wines, Anjoleena Griffin-Hoist


Have you ever bought a bottle of wine, took it home and found that you don't like it at all? Maybe it's too dry, too fruity or too high in acid. You can lessen this from happening by knowing what you like and being able to explain it to your local retail shop. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get what you want.

Let's get some terms out of the way so we can have a little fun with this. Old World countries such as Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Germany used to have a monarchy. Under a monarchy there were a lot of rules which translated to wine making. They had to grow certain grapes in specific regions and needed to age them for a set amount of time. They can't irrigate so when there's crummy weather, they may have a weak crop. They may require a sticker or a band to prove that the wine follows the rules of the region. Look for the black rooster on the pink band of Chianti Classico to see what I mean. Yikes, so many rules!

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Countries in the New World include United States, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile. The United States was created by people who didn't like the rules so they left to start their own country and Australia used to be a penal colony (where they banished people who broke the rules). So with the New World it's easy - there are no rules. You can plant whatever grapes you want, you can turn on the sprinklers when it's too dry and as long as you are following the guidelines of the labeling laws you're good to go. So how does this relate to getting what you want?

You have favorite things that you eat and drink. If you drink strong, black coffee or tea chances are that you prefer red wine over white. And you're probably more inclined to enjoy wines from the Old World. Coffee and tea tend to have a bitter/dry quality to them which are found in wines from various regions in Italy and France. If you use dairy in your coffee you might prefer New World wines. For white you may like a buttery Chardonnay, and for red probably a Cabernet since it's big, but the cream makes it less bitter. If you drink diet soda, there's a chance that you'll reach for something on the sweeter side such as Riesling.

Let's look at food. If you were eating breakfast at my favorite place, Shea's Cafe in Absecon, would you have the tangy spinach and feta omelet or the cinnamon swirl pancakes? One is sweet and the other savory. For dessert do you ask if they have a cheese plate, or go right for the chocolate cake? Food is just like wine and knowing what you enjoy most will go a long way in helping your retailer pick out a wine that's just right for you.


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