It’s not embarrassing to admit that sometimes it can be incredibly overwhelming when presented with the seemingly endless options of wine available in your local liquor store—don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Beyond red, white, rosé, sparkling, and everything in between, there is a world of wines to choose from. Sweet, oaky, dry or fruity—selecting one that’s right for you can pose quite the dilemma, and often make it hard to branch out beyond your regular go-to.
With the summer period fast approaching, there’s no better time to take the leap and try something new (what, with the inevitable picnics and holiday adventures on the horizon), so to uncover exactly what to look for in a new drop we tasked Tony Ingle, wine expert and Chief Winemaker at Angove Family Winemakers—one of South Australia’s most celebrated organic vineyards—to guide you through the process.
Ahead of diving in, Ingle lays out a handy guide to a few wine basics for the next time you’re picking your glass.
Any residual sugar remaining from the fermentation process will make a wine taste sweeter. These wines can be described as sweet, semi-sweet or dry. A dry wine will not be sweet at all.
Acidity is responsible for the perceived tartness or crispness in wine. As grapes ripen, they become less acidic and higher in sugar content. When the wine is fermented the sugar is turned into alcohol and the acid remains, giving the wines their sharpness.
Red wine is fermented with grape skins, where tannins are present, whereas white wine isn’t. Tannins create a mouth-drying feeling, which helps with palate cleaning. High tannin wines are astringent, maybe even bitter. Lower tannin wines are smooth and soft.
Adds weight to wines mouth feel, with bigger-bodied wines typically having higher alcohol levels.
Refers to the perceived weight and viscosity of the wine. A full-bodied wine feels thick, coating the sides of the glass. A light-bodied wine is fresher in the mouth. A medium-bodied wine is in between. Generally, red wines have a fuller body than whites.
Feeling like a pro yet? With a deeper understanding of what goes into a glass, here are four tips to finding the perfect match for your mood:
Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, you will likely enjoy dessert wines, like a Moscato or off-dry Riesling. Or do you like something bolder and earthier, like a Shiraz? If you like something tart with citrus notes, you’ll likely enjoy dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Are you drinking the wine on its own, or are you pairing it with your meal? It’s no secret that wine pairing can elevate your dining experience. A general rule of thumb would be to pair your food and wine at a similar weight, lighter food to lighter wine and rich, heavier foods with full-bodied wines. For example, a delicate Angove Organic Rosé with grilled seafood or a spicy Wild Olive Shiraz with beef bourguignon.
Read and understand what your wine label is telling you—the wine brand, where it’s made, what type of wine it is, tasting notes, aromas and match these criteria with what you think you will enjoy.
If you have any dietary requirements or preferences, such as vegan or organic, look out for certification labels such as the Australian Certified Organic bud logo to make sure the wine you’re drinking is truly (and guaranteed) organic. In Australia, products can have as little as 2 percent organic content and be labelled Organic with no certification, so make sure you look out for these certification marks.
“Vineyards are more than just the source of our grapes, but a holistic system of interconnected organic prosperity,” says Ingle. “At Angove, we developed a complex process called ‘The Vinguard’, led by a colony of honeybees, a posse of Indian runner ducks, an invisible night patrol of microbats and fragrant organic roses—all ensuring that everything used in our winemaking process comes from nature, pure and clean. It’s just one example of what goes into producing our award-winning Certified Organic wine.”
As the saying goes, if you never try, you’ll never know—so be open to exploring new types of wines and experiment with different varieties. If you’ve been loyal to your Shiraz, next time, try getting a fresh and vibrant white like the Angove Organic Chardonnay for a change.
Remember, when it comes to wine, there’s no such thing as a wrong choice.
Image Credits: Angove