How do you pick wine?
If you're like most people the taste of the wine is important. (Unless, of course, the wine is free in which case taste apparently doesn't matter -- at least that's the way it seems based the number of people I see drinking lots of very poor quality wine at social events, but that is another story.)
The taste of wine, shall we say, is typically top priority when deciding upon a wine to buy. That old adage of drink what you like is definitely true. Cost is also a pretty important factor since most of us have a limit on not only what we can, but what we want to spend on wine. Although I would argue that this should not, within reason, impact the taste or quality of the wine we choose.
So is that how you pick wine? Find a great tasting wine that you can afford? If you are at a restaurant that is often how a sommelier helps you pick out a wine. This might also work at a small wine shop without lots of choices. But, fortunately for us, their are so many great tasting wines available these days that other factors are often needed to help us select a wine.
I've found that learning about the winery can help and as a bonus it is a fun experience. If you live near wineries, visiting can give you a feel for the types of wines that are available. Though to really learn about the winery I like to attend winery events; especially if they are small scale events where you can interact with the winery proprietors.
I recently attended a wine dinner at Madrona Manor for Unti Vineyards. George Unti, the winery founder, served as host. Before the dinner we had some time available to chat with him. We learned that as a former grocery store manager he'd watched how consumers taste in wine had evolved in the past couple of decades. Thru travel to Europe, George found his taste preferences for wine and when he retired, he decided to move to the Dry Creek area near Healdsburg, CA. He didn't start the winery immediately; first he started with growing some grapes and over time he evolved into a winery owner (luckily for us). His son helps run the winery -- keeping it a small family affair that flat out has great wine.
During the dinner George introduced each wine providing details on the grapes, the harvest and the vintage. It was fascinating and while it may not have made the wine taste differently it certainly impacted my perceptions. The dinner itself was wonderful with seasonal ingredients from Madrona Manor's garden that were perfectly paired to the Unti Wines. Overall, a great informative, fun and tasty event.
If you haven't tried a wine event at your favorite winery I encourage you to give one a try...
Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.