The basics of wine shopping

January 8, 2015

There are over 1,000 varieties of wine available around the globe. Knowing a bit more about your options will help you make the perfect selection.

The basics of wine shopping

Types of wine

Red wine: Red wine is made of dark grapes and can have a fruity, herbal or sweet taste. Popular varieties include Syrah (also known as Shiraz wine), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Malbec.

White wine: Made from yellow-coloured grapes, white wine is usually sold as dry white wine or sweet white wine. Common varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc andRiesling wine. Other varieties such as Moscato wine are popular too.

Rosé:Another popular wine, this one has an orange or amber colour. It can have a very dry or sweet taste, and is one of the oldest varieties of wine in the world.

Sparkling wine: Whether you call it sparkling wine, fizzy wine, bubbly, Champagne or something else, this is one of the world’s most adored wines. You can easily find red, white or rosé sparkling wine depending on your preferences.

Dessert wine: Dessert wines are typically sweet and served as an accompaniment to a cheese tray or other dessert. Some are white (like port wine or ice wine) while some are red (like sherry or Madeira).

Other: Lesser-known types include sweet strawberry wine, wine coolers (a combination of wine and fruit juice), mulled wine (served warm in winter), and red or white wine sangria (a mix of wine and other cocktail ingredients).

Wine-buying tips

Whether you're a long-time enthusiast or buying wine for the first time, it’s important to do some research before hitting the shops.

  1. Choose your store wisely: Remember that every stockist is different, and don’t forget that you can also buy wine online. Find a store that suits your needs and budget, and perhaps one that offers tastings.
  2. Get to know your way around the store: Don’t be shy about bringing notes with you to put you on the right path. Keep in mind that a higher price doesn't always mean better quality.
  3. Consider where the wine was made: Some of the best wine regions in the world include France (the famous Bordeaux and Burgundy regions), Italy (known for its Marsala wine), the United States, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Spain and South Africa.
  4. Think about what food you’re pairing the wine with:White wines are often better with seafood, chicken or pork, while some red wines work well with red meat.

Follow the tips in this guide for a better appreciation of the tastes available. Above all, be willing to experiment, take notes and you'll get the best out of your wine-tasting experience.


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