How many times have you stood in front of a wine shelf aimlessly looking up and down trying to spot something that looks familiar? A few? Everyone does it. In all my time in retail, we can always spot the customer who’s just looking for something they recognise so they can get out quick. Let me say this, don’t get put off by the amount of wine on the shelves, bask in the joy that in New Zealand we are lucky enough to have a variety of options.
Many people tend to play it safe. They stick with what they know and love (or they get overwhelmed and pick something based purely on its label art or shiny stickers) and there’s nothing wrong with that, but here’s a few tips to help you make that choice with confidence.
I find it easiest to make the choice by first asking yourself “do I feel like something heavy, medium, or light?”, that’s a great starting point to help you narrow down the options.
Let’s say I go with the heavy option, now there are a lot of exceptions to this but a simple trick is to think about the climate of the country. For instance, with my heavier red, it is generally hotter climates or regions that tend to produce bigger fuller red wines. More heat means a riper grape, richer flavours and produces a high sugar content that ferments into a higher percentage of alcohol. So, straight away I know that by looking to a hotter climate I’m angling towards the right choice on my heavier style wine, for example a South Australian Barossa Shiraz boasting a hotter climate in comparison to New Zealand Central Otago Pinot Noir. It’s a good rule of thumb.
Now here’s a guide to some styles and what varieties to look out for. There are many, but to name a few.
Pinot Noir tends to be lighter-bodied, elegant, and restrained with a luscious mouthfeel and bright red fruit flavours - this makes it the perfect red to stick with all year long – Wine of love.
Rua Central Otago Pinot Noir
- about $25
Merlot definitely the best friend to Cabernet Sauvignon and can be more on the med-heavy side, is usually known to blend. But in New Zealand we make some great single variety softer tannin style merlot that’s smooth and shows ripe characters.
Brookfields Hawkes Bay Burnfoot Merlot
- about $20
Cabernet Sauvignon wines are renowned for their power, richness of colour, aroma, depth of flavour and tannic quality that makes them very long lived and extremely tasty!
Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon
- about $35
Shiraz (well, only in Australia, to the rest of the world Syrah) originally from the Rhone region of France, it responds well to oak and thrives in the warm Aussie climate, has the ability to age gracefully for long periods. Inky colour, Blackberries, Tobacco and Chocolate – delicious.
Grant Burge Filsell Barossa Valley Shiraz
- about $35
Enjoy, life is too short to drink shit wine.