Top 10 Red Wine Tips

by Alistair Manning MW, chief winemaker of Villa Maria Estate.

When it comes to deciding on the perfect red for winter we’re usually faced with a cold, wet night settled in beside a roaring fire, or having a red wine perched alongside a hot, hearty meal. Or perhaps it’s a mid winter party with a theme, a girls weekend away or celebration of some type. Whatever the occasion, here are a few tips to help you choose what will be the perfect red for winter.

1. Determine the occasion, the number of people involved and the food being served.

2. Develop a rapport with your local fine wine retailer. They have an infinite amount of knowledge that they’ll only be too willing to pass on. Let them know what you have in mind and for some recommendations.

3. Buy 3 or 4 of the fine wine retailers’ recommendations to judge whether you think they will be suitable. Ask for a range of varieties ie Shiraz, Merlot, Caberent Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Grenache.

4. Try wines from different regions or countries to see how suitable they are. If you can be adventurous there are some amazing wines on offer with names most of us have never heard of but will be exceptional drinking.

5. Read up on the varieties that you like or think will suit the occasion. Subscribe to wine magazines or read on-line reviews about varieties, regions, countries, wine brands.

6. Pinot Noir and Grenache are lighter in body but very perfumed and fragrant and work very well with pork, chicken, duck or risotto dishes whereas Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon red wines have more structure and power and therefore suit the heavy, rich winter dishes.

7. As consumers, we’ve been treated to some fantastic prices on wines. Your fine wine retailer will be able to point out those wines that offer great value for money.

8. Wines that have received medals from wine shows indicate a certain level of wine quality. If unsure, use this recommendation as a selection process.

9. Red wines with at least two years of age ie 2008 and older, will be drinking better than more recent vintages. Red wines soften over time, become more mellow and very drinkable.

10. And if all of these tips haven’t helped, choose a wine with a great looking label to brighten up that winter gloom!

(Pictured: Villa Maria 2008 Pinot Noir, $30)

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