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A lot of people wish they had a comprehensive wine guide when it comes to choosing wine. Just how do you choose from the thousands of different types and if you think you have found a good one which year do you go for? The best way to choose wine is to keep things simple and stick to the three Ps - preference, price and pairing.
The price is very important. Obviously, a very cheap wine will taste like a very cheap wine but most people (apart from wine connoisseurs) would not be able to tell the difference between an $80 bottle of wine and one costing $250 so you don't need to spend a fortune. There are many good wines around for $15 or $20 and a wine merchant should be able to give you some tips.
Personal preference is another key factor in your choice of wine. Unless you want to mature wines in your wine cellar and they sell them for a profit there is no sense in buying a wine you do not like. You might want to get one or two bottles which you are not sure about but do not buy a whole case of something you either are not familiar with or do not think you will like.
If you fancy a dry white wine, try Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Blanc. For people new to wine drinking, play it safe with a Gewurztraminer or Riesling. Merlot, Pinot Noir and Gamay are simple reds, which are not too heavy or complex, and a basic wine guide will tell you this too.
Keep wine pairing in mind when choosing wine. If you are searching for a wine to go with tonight's meal then think about the main ingredients. Is it going to be red meat, white meat, or fish? Will the dish be fruity or spicy and will it contain herbs?
If you are looking for a general wine guide, then bear in mind red wines are usually better with hearty dishes and white wines are good with lightly flavored meals. This is a very general rule and you might find a delicate red, which is good with fish or chicken, or a full-bodied white, which is great with your steak. Wine pairing is only partly down to science and largely down to personal taste.
Read the label carefully when choosing wine. The label will tell you the wine variety, type, region, vintage and flavor. There might be food-pairing suggestions on there as well. The wine label will also have a wine grade on it - stick to wines above eighty points for the best results.
The vintage of the wine is which year it was made. The same wine can be made in two consecutive years and taste better from one year than the other can. This is because the weather is slightly different every year. The amount of rain around harvest time affects the amount of sugar in the grapes and therefore the wine flavor. 1990 is believed to have been a great year for all wine so if you want to impress somebody serve a wine from that year (and make sure they see the label!)
Ask for wine guide tips from an expert. It is best to buy wine directly from the winery if possible or else a good quality wine merchant.