Red wine is a firm favorite of millions of people around the world. However, with so many varieties, it can be daunting to know which bottle you should take home.
Whether you are ready to buy liquor in the UAE or you want to expand your knowledge before you go into your local wine store, keep reading for the five steps you need to take to ensure you are purchasing the right bottle of red wine for you.
1. Understand what makes a “good” red wine
While a “great” red wine depends mostly on personal taste, a “good” red wine has some key features. There are a variety of different red grape varietals, some of which you will enjoy, some of which you may not. Generally, it is recommended that you try an array of options and get adventurous with your choices so that you can find the varietals that you like the most. Keep in mind that wine is similar to food with regards to the fact that everyone has their own preferences.
If you are starting to learn about red wine, you must understand how it differs from white wine. For starters, when compared with white wine, red wine has higher levels of tannin and alcohol. It will have a heavier body, a different flavor profile, and increased complexity in many cases. These differences come from the fermentation process, as the grapes’ skins remain in the tank with the juice.
What you are looking for in a “good” red wine is complexity (meaning it has a depth of flavors), intensity (how much can you identify those flavors), and balance (all of the flavors coexist harmoniously). These are three aspects to keep in mind when tasting red wines.
2. Research potential options
There is no denying that even the most avid wine-drinker can get overwhelmed when looking through the shelves of a wine shop. Luckily, there are several different ways that you can research potential options.
For starters, if you go to your local alcohol shop in Abu Dhabi (or wherever you reside), you can speak with the sellers to learn more about their offerings. Many of these shops curate their wine selection and only include bottles that they are passionate about; therefore, you should never be afraid to ask for advice! Generally, if you can tell the seller your budget and the flavors you like, they will be able to point you in the direction of a bottle you may enjoy.
Additionally, you can look at wine apps to see what other people are drinking, rating, and enjoying. In many cases, these apps allow you to follow others who may have tastes similar to yours. This can also introduce you to lesser known (but still delicious) options. In many cases, if you want to get the best value, you want to look for wines from underrated regions. Due to their relative obscurity, these wines often over-deliver in quality compared to their price.
3. Consider the meal
In addition to considering your budget and your tastebuds, you also need to think about the occasion. For example, if you are purchasing a red wine to take to a dinner party or offer to guests, you want to make sure that it complements the menu.
When creating a wine pairing, you want to ensure you have a wine that provides a more complex burst of flavor from your food. Generally, acidic foods need to be paired with an acidic wine, while salty food tastes delicious with a sweeter bottle. If the main course is a fatty dish, you want either a bitter, highly acidic or higher ABV wine. If you aren’t sure what the exact recipes will be, you can choose a wine coming from the same region as the food.
Alternatively, lighter style reds (such as Pinot Noir) are a reliable option as they are flexible and approachable. If you want to choose a slightly bolder red, then opt for a bottle from Spain or Italy. In the warmer months, you can always drink a chilled bottle of rosé. This is an excellent option because it is versatile, with its vibrant and fresh taste (like white wine) and light body (like red wine).
4. Don’t be scared of a wildcard
If you are purchasing the wine to drink at home (rather to give as a gift), then don’t be scared of trying something completely different. After all, as you taste more red wines, there is a good chance that your tastebuds will adapt, and if you don’t experiment, you might miss out on something wonderful.
Moreover, while screw-capped wine bottles often get ignored, they often hold delicious wine and can be ideal if you are going to a picnic, or if you just want to have one glass.
5. Keep a list of what you try
One of the best things you can do as you start to try more wines is to keep a wine journal. While you can use a regular notebook, you can also find specially designed wine journals with the pre-printed spaces for recording your notes. In your wine journal, you want to keep a list of every bottle that you try, including details such as where it was produced, its age, and any tasting notes. You may want to paste the wine labels into your journal so that you also have a visual memory of the bottle.
Moreover, write down where and when you sampled it, as well as with whom you tried it, as this will help bring a lot more context to its consumption. In addition to these basic details, you should record your thoughts regarding flavor, finish, and anything else notable to your senses.
Getting into the habit of keeping a wine journal will significantly increase your appreciation of wine. Plus, it will make it a lot easier to remember what you have tasted and enjoyed and which ones you don’t need to purchase again.
Are you a red wine drinker, or do you prefer whites? What are the steps that you take to find the perfect bottles for you? Let us know your thoughts and any relevant insights in the comments below!
Valentina Chessa is the Retail Marketing Manager at African + Eastern, the largest alcohol retailer in the Middle East with a network of 29 stores in the UAE, 5 in Oman, and a team of over 400 professional staff. The company boasts an extensive portfolio of beer, wine and spirits, and customers can shop online or at one of its conveniently located stores.