Selecting the right wine is often a guessing game for the inexperienced and unfortunately what your average drinker finds in their glass and what a wine expert describes often differs wildly. That’s not to say that wine recommendations are not useful but it should be bore in mind that your preferences, your palete and the company often complicate the selection process.
Choosing Wine for the Audience
Remember that the audience you’re catering for will dictate above all else what kind of wine you decide to serve, if you’re catering for a sophisticated audience then a wine coming in at less than £5 is hardly going to impress unless you can find something VERY unique and interesting, likewise if you’re catering to friends who stick to bacardi breezers and the odd bottle of Rose then serving a traditional Barolo is not going to go well. Obviously if you have a large group you can go for several bottles but if it’s a small select group then try to find wines in the middle ground, If your audience generally favours light sweet wines then a Pinot Noir is as far along the red spectrum as you can comfortable go, if you’ve a red wine snob in the midst of a white crown then an Oaky Chardonnay if probably your best bet.
Choosing Wine with Dinner
If you’re serving food then you’ve got an excuse for not pleasing all palates, as a general rule you’ll often find that wines pair well with dishes from their region (which should come as no surprise) but whatever you serve try to ensure that the wine wont overpower the meal and vice versa. Take a seafood dish high in fat or with strong taste then look for a Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris which will hold their own and cut through the dish, if you’re going for a spicy and strong red meat then look towards the Zinfandel or a nice Cabarnet Sauvignon which wont appear bland by contrast. Ensure that you pair a light wine with lighter food such as fish and creamy sauces and full-bodied wine with bolder dishes – typically you will be advised never to pair white wine with red meat and vice versa but as you become more experienced you’ll realise this rule has its exceptions.
However no matter what rules you break when pairing with dessert ensure you choose a desert wine, no normal red or white will be able to compare to even the most subtle of sugary treats.
Choose Wine for the Mood
This is the rule that people most often neglect, a complex red wine is hardly an appropriate pairing with a pack of cheese and onion in front of the Television, a wine served with the wrong course can ruin dinner and a wine served in the wrong atmosphere wont be appreciated.
Simply put while in certain audiences a wine is to be decanted and left to oxidise, served in specialist wine glasses, swirled, sniffed and sipped while at others times these traditions should not be observed. Although this sounds obvious it makes a huge difference if you’re serving a young bold wine that requires decanting and you don’t have a half hour window to open it then you’re best opting for a less tannic bottle.
Choose a Wine You’ll Enjoy
Ultimately the rhythm and ritual of finding a wine for the occasion is pointless if you don’t have a wine you’re going to enjoy. If you favour light and sweet then consult a chart, sommelier or Wine Review and find something that meets your preferences, afterall wine drinking isn’t supposed to be work!