For some of us, picking the right bottle of wine is as intimidating a task as manning a spaceship to Jupiter. Here are some handy tips which will make choosing red wines a little less onerous.

If the task of choosing the perfect wine was to be described in one word, it would probably be overwhelming. God bless you if you happen to be at one of those chic French eateries, where a snooty serveur called Jacques looks down his equally snooty nose to mumble incomprehensible recommendations. Especially if you happen to be one of the many who have a bewildered look on their face when presented with a snobbish leather-bound wine list that has names too complex to pronounce.

Another factor contributing to the confusion is the sheer volume of things to ‘watch out for’ when it comes to choosing wines. The acidity, the body, the aroma, the flavor… whatever happened to the basic joy of relishing a delicious meal in peace? We have here a simple list of recommendations, not rules, mind you, which will help you get a head start in the area of choosing the right red wine, with respect to the occasion.

Tips for Choosing the Right Red Wine

The hallmark of a good wine is determined by its peculiar characteristics. When it comes to choosing the perfect wine, you need to understand what makes that wine special. In other words, you must be able to identify the wine’s features to make an informed choice. Let’s begin with a quick run-down on wine characteristics, which will put you in a better position to understanding the techniques of selecting the best wine.

The Acidity

: The acid present in your wine determines its sourness. Low levels of acid make the wine weak in taste, whereas very high levels mean extra sourness. This kind of sourness literally shocks your taste buds very intensely. The best tasting wine is the one that perfectly balances the acidity.

The Body

: The body of the wine refers to the alcohol content and sensation the wine leaves in your mouth after you’ve had a sip. A full-bodied wine leaves a strong aftertaste, which is hard to miss. The taste of lighter wines, owing to the scant presence of alcohol, disappears quite quickly.

The Tannin Content

: The tannin content of a red wine lends it its characteristic rich bitterness. Tannin is a natural ingredient present in the seeds, skins and stems of the fruit used to make the wine. Tannin levels contribute to the structure and flavor of the wine.

The Bouquet/Aroma

: This is another important factor that helps you get a preview of the things to come. Without getting into deeper details, you’ll notice distinct aromas as you swirl the wine in your glass. They could be fruity, floral, earthy, even nutty. Doesn’t really matter if you can’t differentiate, because what matters ultimately is the next characteristic.

The Flavor

: The flavor is what a good wine is all about, and this is what ranks above everything else. Having smelled the wine, you more or less get an idea of some of its ingredients, if not all. The flavor of the wine is what should dictate your decision to green-light the purchase. No matter what the wine connoisseurs have to say, your choice as a drinker should reign supreme.

Best Red Wines for Every Meal

While seasoned wine drinkers simply enjoy sipping on their favorite wine without accompaniments, most of us prefer to pair it with some munchies. Having understood the basic concepts associated with wine selection, let us take a look at a few delectable red wines and the grub they pair well with.

When You’re Eating This…

…Try Drinking This

Fast foods like pizzas, hamburgers, sauerkraut, light pasta with chicken Pinot Noir, Bardolino, Beaujolais, light Chianti Tuna, fresh salmon, bluefish fillets, mackerel, mussels Any light, fruity wine with a low tannin content, like the Burgundian Pinot or even a Cabernet Franc Lightly roasted lamb, venison, or other meats Beaujolais crus, low-priced Bordeaux wines, Chianti Classico or Cabernets Spicy meats, grilled turkey, lamb, chicken, game birds, pork Zinfandels, Australian Cabernets and Shiraz (Syrah) wines, most Côtes du Rhône Grenache wines Barbecued meats, beef steaks, roast turkey Full-bodied Sangiovese, California Cabernets, Merlots and Zinfandels Cheese – Brie, Camembert, strong Cheddar or Danish Blue Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Grenache

Red Wine Selection: A Few Thumb Rules

The first rule is obviously to ignore all rules and go by your instinct. Choosing wines is an art, and there is no compulsion to stick to the tried and tested. Be experimental.

Pay attention to the wine label. It will help you understand the vintage, region of origin, flavor and taste, especially if you’re looking to zero in on something specific.

Don’t ignore the alcohol content. This is how you figure it out – 7.5% – 10.5% is light, 10.5% – 12.5% is medium, whereas 12.5% and above is loaded. In this regard, it is best to keep the occasion and type of drinkers in mind.

Being a novice, it is always better to shop at reliable liquor stores where the staff will be able to help you with your purchase depending upon your requirements.

Selecting the right red wine isn’t rocket science, really. Agreed, it does take some practice, but even that’s not a big deal once you let your taste buds take over. So is it the Beaujolais Nouveau with the Enchaud Périgourdin, then?

Buzzle: Food & Drink

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