A few quick answers to some
"Frequently Asked Questions"

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Meanwhile here are a few answers.

 

How do I know a good wine?
The quick answer to this is - drink more wine, then take a note of what you like, the flavours, the smells, how long they linger - then note the bottle, whether it is a grape labelled bottle or a place labelled bottle, then try to find something similar.

Knowing good wine is all about acquiring knowledge, much of which is gained from reading books and visiting this website, but is best gained through experience of drinking more wine. So the best way to "know a good wine" is to drink more and note what you are tasting.
What is the vintage of wine? Why is it important?
The vintage of a wine refers to the year in which the grapes are grown and harvested.

So a bottle of 2006 Chardonnay was made from Chardonnay grapes grown in 2006. Remember also that Southern Hemisphere wines are usually in the shops six months before the Northern Hemisphere, because their summers come in December, January and February!

Vintage is important because some summers are better than others and generally better quality wines are made in better quality summers. That's why sometimes two bottles of wine from the same producer/vineyard can be markedly different in price and in quality, they can come from different vintages where the summers might not have been as good.
Is all old wine better than new wine?
Not necessarily, in fact more often not.

It really depends on the "type" of wine. Most of the wine that is bought in supermarkets is mass produced and is made for drinking as soon as it is bought. However the wine from specialist companies like TheWineSchool and others tends to be wine which is produced in small quantities, costs a wee bit more and would be expected to improve for a period after it is bottled.

In this latter case some wines are better when they are older. Really fine wines, such as our Weekend and Special Occasion wines generally DO improve with a little bit of ageing due to the care and attention taken to their production, the quality of the fruit used and the storage and bottling methods. This usually takes place over a longer period and the wines are more concentrated and "designed" to be better for a little bit of age.

However be careful not to leave your wines too long, wine does have a shelf life and anything that costs less than £8 or £9 should not be left for too long.
Why do some wines sell for £5 and others sell for £50? Surely there can't be that much difference in quality?
Like many products, there are wines which are mass produced and wines which are more crafted and even wines which are literally hand produced, picked grape by grape to ensure the optimum result.

Like most manufactured products, hand produced wines cost more to make. Those wines that are made quickly and in bulk are made to satisfy the "quaffing" market and those that are made with more care and attention are intended for more "serious" drinking.

Consequently, volume produced wines, made viable bythe scale of huge, huge wine farms, will cost less and those produced on a smaller scale, with greater attention to quality, will cost more.
Do you drink red wine with meat and white wine with fish?
The answer to this is YES!

However, not exclusively. Some wines go better with some foods and in general red wine goes better with meats and white wines go better with fish. As you drink more wine and try more types and move away from the "Basics" - and if you aren't going to do that, why are you reading this? - you will find that some whites (particularly hand made older whites), go better with some meats and some reds (lighter, fruitier ones) can go well with fish.

One essential rule however......you should always drink what you want to drink, be advised by others, but don't let them bully you!
Is all that sloshing sniffing and slurping really necessary?
Actually, it is.

Put simply, the sloshing helps us release the smells of the wine more quickly, the sniffing helps us get those smells more easily and the slurping ensures that we get all the tastes more quickly and makes it easier to taste all the flavours and elements of the wine.
Good wine only comes from France, doesn't it?
Definitely NOT!

It is now decades since the only good wine came from France. In the last twenty and thirty years a lot of the "hit and miss" elements have been taken out of winemaking and techniques have been constantly developed and improved and spread throughout the world.Great, consistent winemaking now takes place all over the world in Australia, New Zealand, California, Italy, Spain and our current favourite location, South Africa.

Some would argue, with good cause, that the best wines in the world come from Bordeaux or Burgundy in France and this might be true in some cases, but these are the very top of the range and are extremely expensive wines, which also cost a lot to make. There are debates raging as to consistency in winemaking. My feeling is that South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Chile represent best value Everyday, Weekend and even Special Occasion wines for the regular drinker. Wine geeks like Stephen are the ones who will experiment or simply wish to experience the expensive wines from France.
How do I spot a bargain?
This is fairly simple, but not something you can do without a little effort to learn a little about wine. Basically, we're talking about 'experience' here. Once you have learned what you like, what it costs and what wines are similar, it is amazing how the choice of wine available to you suddenly seems so much greater than you previously imagined.

With greater choice and experience of trying wines, you will be able to compare wines and will soon see those that represent better value for money than others. Other ways of course include keeping an eye on this website, others will recommend wines, try them. We will regularly try to bring these wines to our members' attention.
You should always sniff the cork, shouldn't you?

No. Sorry, but NO!

Smelling the cork does not tell us anything about the wine as only the tiniest amount has been incontact with it, so there is no value in smelling it. There is sometimes value in looking at it, to see what condition it is in. If it is in poor condition, then be wary of the condition of the wine, if it is in good condition, great pour out a glass!

 

How do I learn more about wine?
Honestly, there is really only one way.....DRINK MORE WINE!

Seriously, by drinking more, you experience more and if you are interested in learning about wine, you will begin to take an interest. You must also note what you are drinking, smelling, tasting....how long these tastes, smells linger, how well they mix together.

In the knowledge section of this site there are pages on "How to Taste Wine" and on the things to note for the future, so that you can quickly assess a wine, by looking, smelling, tasting.

Above all, enjoy it, have fun and don't be afraid to spend a couple of extra pounds to get a better bottle of wine. As you learn more, you'll also be more willing to try something, not like it and write it down to experience and not let it stop you trying more!

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