Monday, February 16, 2009

Want To Figure Out What Kinds of Wine You Like? It's the Where, not the What

Often when I'm recommending wines a customer starts by telling me what they don't like. "I don't like Chardonnay", or "I don't like Merlot". If you really want to know what you like and what you don't, this isn't the way to go about it. For a start, nobody can really make a judgement like "I don't like Chardonnay" because there are too many of them to rule out before you can say that. But that aside, I have found that when it comes to preferences, where the wine comes from is far more important than what grape variety it's made out of. A Chardonnay from Chablis can taste completely different than a Chardonnay from Napa, to the point where you wouldn't believe the two wines were made from the same grape.

Wine making regions tend to have certain things in common, such as soil composition, weather and so on. That means that wines from these regions often share similar characteristics. Chardonnay from Chablis tends to be light with lots of minerality where Chardonnay from Napa is often fuller-bodied, buttery, and with more fruit flavor. I'm generalizing of course, but it's roughly true, or at least true enough to set your preferences by. This is also a big reason why many European wines identify themselves by where they come from, e.g. Chianti, Bordeaux, Champagne, and so on.

So from now on I advise you to to check the wine label for where a wine is made each time you try a new one and see if a pattern in your preferences emerges. It's also fun to do wine tastings by getting several wines made from the same grape but different places and compare them. And please, pretty please don't refuse of a wine because of what country it comes from. Saying "I don't like French wine" is as ridiculous as saying "I don't like American wine".

1 comment:

Jared said...

I thought you'd like to take advantage of's free distribution and a StoryMap to chart all the places written about on CommuterPageBlog. The distribution on our core site,, and our partner network across Virginia will send traffic to your site. The StoryMap will give your readers a really easy way to find your stories that are local to them. To get started, go to