Wine sales have grown rapidly in the last 20 years and more wine is available in Canadian stores than ever before. Few of us are connoisseurs, so here’s some ways to decide on a bottle.
1. Knowledge is buying power
Don’t assume that a high price necessarily indicates high quality. Although this can be true, some wines command higher prices because of a small harvest that results in fewer bottles produced. If you learn about wine, you’ll be in a better position to spot the best-value vintages.
2. Start a club
Start a wine-tasting club with your friends or colleagues. You can arrange regular tastings where everyone brings a bottle of a particular type of wine.
If you’re already a member of a book club or investment club, why not combine these gatherings with wine tasting and kill two birds with one stone?
3. Attend an event
There are many wine-tasting events held throughout the country, though regions that grow grapes seem to have the most. Watch out for charity events that combine wine-tasting with auctions or other fundraising activities.
4. Take a course
There’s so much to learn about wine, it can be daunting, but lots of courses available to learn about wine, both in your local community and online.
5. Quality designations
Most countries have designations reserved for higher-quality wines. Canada has the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA). France has the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Italy has the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and the higher DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
6. Looking for a good year
Many wines are intended to be consumed within a year or two. The year of harvest is more telling for wines from cooler climates, where temperatures vary and can affect the quality of the grape.
7. Let’s party
To calculate how much wine to buy for a celebration, bear in mind that a normal 750 millilitre (24 ounce) bottle will give six glasses of still wine and eight to 10 glasses of champagne or sparkling wine. Arrange to return unopened bottles.
8. Investing for the future
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on wines suitable for storage, you can look forward to a treat later.
9. Conditions apply
To ensure your wine is drinkable, let alone improved by aging, you must have a suitable cellar or well-insulated area. An unsuitable environment will ruin good wine. Some bottles can be stored for decades.
10. Avoid wasting leftover wine
Pour leftover wine into a smaller bottle and seal with a tight-fitting cork.
Use a pump that removes the air from a half-finished bottle so the wine returns to its unopened state.
Wine is a nice addition to stews, casseroles and pasta sauces.
11. Let it breathe
You can improve an inexpensive bottle of red wine by opening it two or three hours before drinking. It also looks very elegant when served from a decanter.
Drinking good wine doesn’t necessarily have to set you back financially. By knowing what you like, and how to find good deals on the shelves, you can drink wine you’ll love for less than you may think.