Whether its the holidays or simply a Friday night and are looking to unwind, wine can be the go to choice for many men out there.
But how do you decide which one will be the best for your palette or even dinner?
When going to an upscale restaurant, the waiter hands you an intimidating list of wines that can range from $40 to $400 a bottle (or even more).
Do you try to find something in the middle?
Or perhaps find one thats $45 – just so it doesn’t look like you went straight for the cheapest wine on the menu?
Here’s the deal:
We have all been there before!
So when simply looking for a decent drink to go for, which one should you get? Here are the top 6 sure-fire wine tips that will make you look like a pro.
1. Understand Complimentary Wines With Your Meals
Before plunking down your hard earned buck on a bottle of wine, or paying the mark up that is built into the prices at the restaurant, it’s important to know just really what meals go with what wine.
Being there are so many different grapes of wines, is it easy as just saying white wine is for fish and red wine is for beef?
Well to an extent…
If you are having a light citrus salad, you want to go with a wine like Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is such a light ‘summery’ wine that would be lost if having a ribeye, but tastes amazing when paired correctly.
As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. With such a wide variety, you also have a lot of different flavor profiles of fish as well.
From an sea bass, arctic char, and tilapia all the way to catfish, salmon or mahi mahi, the wine of choice actually varies wildly.
If you are at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter for a suggestion or a bit more on the fish you are having.
Typically for the very mild and delicate fishes, typically you want to go with a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
As you move to the meatier fishes, go a bit more towards the Chardonnay or even a Rosé. There are great websites (and apps covered below) out there as well that do a good job recommending bottles for your meal.
Back on land, when it comes to pork, a more mild meat, you can still get away with a Chardonnay or other heavier white wines. If you are having a heavier pork dish like ribs, you can even start to go into some of the more mild red wines like Zinfandel or Pinot Noir.
Lastly for red meats like beef, you can definitely dive into the red wines. However don’t just go straight for a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, etc.
Instead think about the type of beef that you are having, if its a bit more on the leaner side (top round, etc), have a lighter bodied red wine. Whereas if you are having a strip steak or filet, a Cabernet or Malbec would make for a great pairing.
2. When Eating In – Don’t Be Ashamed Of Value or Box Wines
By and far the most frugal of wine tips is this one – boxed wines!
When people hear the term box wine – you get a reaction that is either making fun of it or that the wine is going to taste like utter garbage.
Heck I have received both of the reactions at the same time!
There actually is some decent box wine out there! If you plan on having a party, a box wine can be a great way of saving you a few extra bucks – but it doesn’t end there…
One of my personal recommendations for box wines will be the Malbec from Black Box Wines.
Typically the price for this box hovers around $20 (can vary depending on distributor markup or taxes within your state).
For the price of one box of wine, the amount of volume contained equates to 4 bottles of wine.
Yes you heard me right – for only $20 you get 4 bottles of wine.
That’s only $5 a bottle!
You simply can’t beat that (well maybe with exception Trader Joes 2 buck chuck – but I haven’t personally had it)!
When tasting this wine too, personally I would say it ranks up there with bottles commanding a $15 to $30 price tag. It is without a doubt one of the best boxed wines I had (no I wasn’t paid to say this).
Another convenience to the boxed wine as well is that you don’t have to worry about consuming it within a couple days after opening.
Being in a vacuum bag, you can get away with keeping it on your shelf for a few weeks. However if you lack self control like me, you might not have a problem with an expiring shelf life. But enough about box wines!
Regions can also play a huge part in the price for wines.
With some of the emerging wineries coming out of South America, you can get a decent bottle for a much lower cost than you would from the more established regions like California or France.
Therefore going for a nice Malbec from Argentina will be much cheaper than its France counterpart.
3. A Wine Rating App Can Be Your Best Friend
When first getting into the wine world there are a few things to remember – first off everyone’s different.
Wine is like art in a strange sort of way and can be highly subjective to some folks.
Some people tend to have a highly tuned in palette that can pick up the most subtle of flavors, or others are just looking for a good buzz and don’t really care for what they are drinking.
If you are somewhere in the middle, a great place to get started is trying out some community driven wine apps.
With an average rating of about 4.5 stars, you can simply take a picture of your wine label and it will instantly recognize the bottle you are drinking and tell you a bit more about it.
But while you can often times find much of the information on the back of any bottle, Delectable Wines goes a bit further and if you like the particular bottle that you are drinking, it will also recommend like wines that you may want to check out.
Last but not least, you can also find wines that might pair with cuisines – so if you plan on staying in the night and making a hearty steak or fish dinner, you can easily find a list of recommended wines.
Its also a great way to learn some additional wine tips that aren’t covered here as well!
Other noteworthy apps worth checking out that do similar things as Delectable Wines are:
- Vivino (Free – iOS & Android)
- Wine-Searcher (Free – iOS & Android)
- Plonk (Free – iOS & Android)
- Corkz (Paid – iOS & Android)
4. Wine Tastings Are Definitely Worth The Money
Wine tastings can be extremely fun thing to do for a weekend.
Whether you live in a wine region like Long Island or near Sonoma County or Napa Valley, wineries are a great way to go head first into the world of wines.
For typically less than $10 bucks, you can sample upwards to 5 or 6 wines all varying in different grapes, bodies, etc.
In addition to the breadth of wines that you have to choose from, the person working behind the counter are often always more than happy explaining what you should be looking for when you try a tasting.
Don’t live near a winery though?
Not to worry!
Another great place to check out tasting of wines are either higher end liquor/wine stores or even restaurants.
A quick Google search on any of the following should yield some great results:
- ‘wine tastings + city’
- ‘wine events + city’
- ‘wine tasting for groups + city’
- ‘private wine tastings’
- ‘free wine tastings’
- ‘best wine tastings’
A while back I went to one here in NYC with my wife and were able to taste several wines just from regions within Italy.
It was a great introduction to Italian wines and was extremely fun and informative.
If I recall we had probably in total a couple glasses of wine, cheese, and breadsticks all for about $30 each.
Definitely a great recommendation to do with a friend!
Of all the tips covered so far this is by and far my most favorite wine tip!
5. Got Headaches After Drinking Wine? There’s A Reason For That
Wine headaches are the worse!
Assuming you aren’t cashing off an entire bottle in one sitting, then there might be a reason for that nasty headache that isn’t a hangover.
Tannins are found in wine and may be introduced in a number of ways through the fermentation process. Whether its the barrel that the wine was stored in (those stored in wooden barrels are higher in tannins), also the type of grapeseed, and the skin of the grape itself.
Some low tannin red wines to give a shot to see if your headache still persists would be Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. Just be sure to stay away from Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Sirah as they have a very high tannin count.
6. Still Lost and Don’t Want To Pull Out Your Phone At Dinner?
Wine lists are intimidating, they are like a phone book but just with wines that you would have to be a native French or Italian speaker in order to pronounce many of them!
If you are at a high end restaurant, chances are they might have a person called a Sommelier on staff.
I always have a hard time with French words so as a tip a Sommelier is pronounced like ‘suh-mel-yay’.
So what is a Sommelier?
They are a person that has gone through several courses on the complexities of wine and the ins and outs of every bottle (I want that job!).
Seriously these men or women sit back and understand all that there is to know about a bottle of wine.
While it might seem a little bit intimidating at first – don’t worry! Their goal is to give you the best bottle of wine for your dinner.
Most Sommelier’s are pretty friendly and will be more than happy to try and find a bottle (or glass) of wine that will fit within your budget.
Their purpose is for you to have an enjoyable dinner and help you make the right selection!
So if you are celebrating a special occassion or simply splurging on a meal, check to see ahead of time if they might have a Sommelier on staff and if they do – ask for them when your waiter comes over to the table.
Just remember – its pronounced ‘suh-mel-yay’!
Easy Wine Tips To Remember!
Now you have a good understanding of which wine to look for when you either host or go out to a restaurant!
Is there any tips that you keep in mind when trying to pick up a bottle of wine?
If so, I definitely want to hear them!
- 1 1. Understand Complimentary Wines With Your Meals
- 2 2. When Eating In – Don’t Be Ashamed Of Value or Box Wines
- 3 3. A Wine Rating App Can Be Your Best Friend
- 4 4. Wine Tastings Are Definitely Worth The Money
- 5 5. Got Headaches After Drinking Wine? There’s A Reason For That
- 6 6. Still Lost and Don’t Want To Pull Out Your Phone At Dinner?
- 7 Easy Wine Tips To Remember!