Don’t go breaking the bank on an expensive bottle of wine you don’t know anything about. This party season, we’ve enlisted the help of Kim Brebach, the $20 Wine Guy and founder of The Best Wines Under 20, about the best reds, whites, and bubbles which all fall under a good price range.
If you don’t know your Pinot Gris from Pinot Noir, check out Kim’s ultimate guide to wine so you always have the best!
What are the best wines for gifts?
- If it’s for a family member or close friend, you’ll have an idea what they like, so that’s easy
- For a friend or colleague who knows her wines, ask your wine merchant to suggest an unusual wine that indicates you’ve gone to some trouble to surprise them
- If you want to impress someone, choose a known brand champagne like Moet, or a Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz – if it’s a guy
- For your dad, ask him – he may prefer a bottle of single malt whiskey!
- If you’re not sure, a gift pack will always be welcome – you’ll find these at most wine retailers
Which wines work well with seafood?
Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon/Sauvignon blends tend to work best with fresh, simply cooked seafood including cold prawns. Most wine writers suggest a young and astringent Riesling but most of these are too fruity to match salty and savoury seafood. This also applies to some of the cheaper sauvignons from Marlborough. A few recommendations include:
- Yealands Land Made Sauvignon Blanc 2013: $14 at Kemenys (Marlborough)
- Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2013: $13 at WSD (Marlborough)
- Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014: $20 at MyCellar (Margaret River)
- Lobster Mornay or spicy Asian seafood may need something with more flavour, such a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
What are the best wine varieties for a party or get-together?
- Office party: Moscato or Prosecco have festive bubbles but they’re more frizzante than spumante (fully sparkling). More important is that they’re lower in alcohol than standard sparkling wines so people should leave the office party in better shape.
- Friends and nibbles: Rosé goes with various nibbles including tapas and ham. Montepulciano is a terrific, light pizza red. Riesling is great with cold chicken, and Sauvignon Blanc compliments prawns really well.
- Formal occasion: Pink bubbly and sparkling shiraz tend to be winners but the latter can be fairly alcoholic so be careful. A big Chardonnay is another good option
If that’s all too hard, keep in mind that the folks in Champagne drink their bubbles with anything and everything, so you could choose a good Aussie bubbly and do the same. A couple of examples include:
- Madame Coco Brut NV: $14 at Kemenys
- Petaluma Croser NV: $17 at Our Cellar
What are some of the most popular wines, and what do they taste like?
- Sparkling wine, regardless of colour, should have a strong mousse (the bubbles on top) and a fine, persistent bead (the tiny bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass)
- Riesling should smell and taste of limes, talc, hints of minerals and have a dry finish
- A good Chardonnay is full and round and tastes of white peaches and cashews or almonds
- Sauvignon Blanc should smell of gooseberries, lantana, freshly cut grass and even cat pee (seriously) The taste should be fresh, tangy and savoury
- Good Pinot Gris or Grigio smells and tastes of ripe pears & apples, with hints of ginger
- Cabernet Sauvignon smells and tastes of blackberries, black currants and cassis, with hints of vanilla and pencil shavings from oak maturation. Feels cool in the mouth
- Merlot is a softer wine with ripe, plush fruit in the plum spectrum, with a velvet softness.
- Shiraz is usually a big-hearted, warm and friendly kind of guy, with ripe, warm red berry fruit and spices like black pepper
What are some of your favourite wines?
Image via People