The world of wine can be somewhat daunting when you’re only just starting to get to know the red or white sloshy liquid in your glass.
Terms like ‘skin contact’, ‘tannin’, ‘phenolics’ and phrases like ‘persistent mouthfeel’ and ‘smells like rhubarb and strawberries’ can start to overwhelm and make you wonder if all the fuss is worth it. Beer doesn’t give you such a hard time when you’re just trying to have a casual Friday night knock off.
So let’s shake up the context and start to think of the humble grape juice like your wardrobe. You have your staples like jeans and t-shirts. Your statement pieces: your ‘little black dress’ or that perfectly tailored suit that’s good for every occasion. With these helpful tricks, choosing a bottle from the wine store shelf will be as easy as picking out a hanger from your closet.
The Little Black Dress/Perfectly Tailored Suit: Vintage Champagne
There’s a piece that should be in everyone’s wardrobe – something you can pull out for any special occasion and you’re ready to go. It’s the little black dress or that perfectly tailored suit. For wine, that means vintage Champagne (or sparkling). You can drink it in times of celebration or commiseration, on its own or with a meal. And just like your little black dress, this style of wine ages well, so you don’t have to worry about it going out of fashion through the seasons. Have a couple of bottles stashed away somewhere dark and cool and you’ll never be left unprepared.
NV Agrapart & Fils ‘Terroirs’ Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne – Avize, France
The Statement Piece: ‘Skin Contact’ White Wine
To make an ‘orange wine’ you take white grapes, crush them slightly and put them in a vessel to ferment. They’re typically left alone from four days, but sometimes over a year with the juice in contact with the skins. Orange wines have been described as robust and bold with honeyed aromas of jackfruit (a tropical fruit), hazelnut, walnut, bruised apple, wood varnish, linseed oil, juniper, sourdough and dried orange rind. On the palate, they’re big, dry and even have tannin like a red wine with a sourness in their taste similar to cider. These are your statement wines, like your latest ‘must-have’ pair of accessories; so on trend, but not for every occasion. These wines like a floral jumpsuit must be used with confidence.
2015 Pheasants Tears Mtsvane – Kakheti, Georgia
Your Favourite Trackpants: Pinot Noir
A wine that’s consistently comforting, suits every occasion and should always be in your home bar or cellar is Pinot Noir. Why? Its diversity – one grape, many flavours. It has an approachability and refined balance between fruit and acid, which makes it an easy favourite at any event, function or dinner party and the perfect wine to finish a long day. The diversity also extends to style, from lighter more ethereal styles from the Yarra Valley to brooding and broader styles like the ones you see in Central Otago. Slip into something more comfortable, turn on Spotify and play some Ta-ku or Bonobo and pour yourself a glass of Pinot.
2014 Quealy ‘Seventeen Rows’ Pinot Noir- Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Your staples: ‘Aromatic Whites and Medium Bodied Reds’
Every wardrobe should have a pair of blue jeans and a crisp white t-shirt. It’s an iconic combo that pairs well with every occasion. With that in mind, there are two styles of wines that should always be stocked in your cellar or on your wine rack. Firstly: aromatic whites. Think Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio – anything lighter in style, which are delicate with a great line of acid to balance out the riper fruitier notes. Secondly: medium bodied reds. Think Italian varieties like Nebbiolo and Sangiovese or the French grape variety Mataro. There wines have great expressions of fruit, may have a bit of oak softness in the mouth and are focused on reining in the alcohol. These styles of whites and reds are suitable for any occasion. Your neighbour has stopped by unannounced to whinge about how the leaves keep clogging up the storm drains? Grab a Pinot Grigio out of the fridge. Having a BBQ? Nothing better than chargrilled meats and Touriga Nacional.
2016 TWR ‘Toru’ Gewurtztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris blend- Marlborough, New Zealand
2014 Izway ‘Mates’ Aglianico Mataro- Barossa, South Australia