The summer is everyone’s favorite time of year to invite a few friends over, show off your best culinary skills, and enjoy a magnificent glass of wine under the summer sky. However, if you have ‘foodies’ for friends, you might want to bring your A-game when selecting the best wine for your party and their palates.
Lee Campbell, the wine director for Andrew Tarlow’s Brooklyn restaurant group, and curator of the popular list at Reynard, says don’t be fooled by expensive prices and fancy labels, choosing a great bottle of wine has much more to do with your taste.
The renowned sommelier has a love for natural, organic wine, that is known to divide wine lovers with a more pretentious palate. Â Nevertheless, she believes that selecting wine is a personal preference.
1. Develop a relationship with a wine merchant or sommelier. They will act as a guide for your palate. Patronize one or two trusted establishments, in which a wine professional will help you to explore new wines. This doesn’t always mean the wine store closest to your house. It’s usually better to find a great place that you might visit less frequently, than to just automatically go to the easiest place to get to.
2. Go to complimentary wine store tastings on the weekend. On Saturdays, most quality wine stores will hold wine tastings for a few hours in the afternoon. What better way is there to find out if you’ll like something, than to test drive it in advance.
3. Get to know a few wine importers you like. The back label of all imported wines will tell you who the specific importer is. All of the best importers have specific portfolio styles that may or may not correlate with your taste. Some of my favorites include, Louis/Dressner, Kermit Lynch, and Neal Rosenthal.
4. Don’t think that more money always means better wine. While it’s true that it’s harder and harder to find great wine under $10, it doesn’t always follow that you have to spend a tremendous amount for something delicious. There’s tons of great stuff out there for $25 or less. Also, remember that some of the more expensive wines are meant to be cellared and imbibed in several years, which means they might not taste so great right now.
5. Don’t getÂ bamboozledÂ by a sexy label. The attractiveness of the label simply doesn’t correlate to the deliciousness of the wine. Some winemakers are too busy making great wine to worry about the label. Sure, every now and then, great wine comes with a great label. But all too often, a good label simply masks an inferior product.