SAVE £40 on Virgin Wine's Wine Bank with this voucher


Waitrose Wine deals

SAVE UP TO 50% on wine at Waitrose



Wine Guide

Guide to WineHere you will be to get the low-down on how to make the most of your wine in our extensive guide to wine. We will give you the basics of some of the more popular types of wine, how to taste wines, as well as the top tips on how to store you wine to prolong its life and develop its character.
Our wine guide will also help you in selecting the best type of wine to have with a selection of different foods helping you plan out a well rounded and thoroughly enjoyable meal.

First and foremost ensure that you are serving the wine at the optimum temperature. Use our comprehensive wine temperature guide to find the variety and away you go!


Wine Tasting:

This guide to wine is aimed more at your enjoyment of a wine that you already have, but it can equally be applied if you are at a more formalized wine tasting event.

What is tasting? It can most easily be broken down into 4 key areas:

- Looking
- Smelling
- Tasting
- Assessing


Looking can tell us a vast amount about what we're about to put in our mouths. Angle a good quality wine glass away from you at around 45 degrees and hold it against a white background - a piece of white paper is fine, but the tablecloth usually serves just as well! This allows you to see the true colour of the wine.

The first thing you will notice (obviously enough) is the colour. Depending on what you are drinking there are a few simple wine guides that hold true - Red wines begin life a more bluish shade of crimson or purple and fade through shades of ruby, garnet and brick to a yellow-toned tawny depending on the grape and their age. Whites, on the other hand, deepen as they grow older. For the home drinker, colour isn't so important, though do take note if a white wine is unexpectedly dark - this may be the first sign that it is oxidised (spoilt by over-exposure to oxygen either in production or in the bottle also know as "corked") and hence no good. Note: If you have purchased a wine that you beleive to be corked the majority of good retailers will refund or replace the bottle for you.

Smell Wine in GlassAs with the colour of a wine, its perfume will vary according to its age and composition. The region where it was made can also influence its aroma, as can ageing in oak barrels. Think about the smell. Is it powerful and complex or simple and light? Does it linger or is it soon dissipated? Take a good sniff. You will first experience what are often known as "primary aromas" in a young wine. These are the ones that remind you of fresh fruit. More mature wines develop complex smells that tend to be more vegetal and subtle.



Grape variety has a profound influence on a wine's perfume. The aroma of Sauvignon Blanc, for instance, is classically described as 'cat's pee on a gooseberry bush', Cabernet Sauvignons are often characterised as having a blackcurrant quality and Pinot Noirs have something of the barnyard about them.

Remember that after all, there is no right or wrong in anyone's description of a wine - it is just a highly personal reaction to the scent released from the glass. As a further guide to wine read the back of the bottle, it may indicate some of the flavours you can expect such as "chocolate, cherry etc" Smell the wine again and see if you can then spot them. But don't worry if you can't!



Take a mouthful of the wine and swish it around in your mouth quite vigorously. Breathe as you do so, as this helps to aerate the wine and increases its flavor. Do not worry if you seem a little rude doing this as it really does make all the difference. After holding the wine in your mouth for 15 to 20 seconds, swallow it (but if you're intending to taste more than a couple of wines then you will need to spit it out!)

You will initially experience a few distinct notes in the wine, High acidity will make your mouth water, while tannin (which tends to be most pronounced in young red wines intended for long cellar life) will have the opposite effect. The tannin taste can also give that feeling of sharpness on the gums, like they are being drawn back over your teeth.

Certain characteristics are associated with the various types of grape and even with the area where a wine is grown - an Australian Riesling might be described as having tropical fruit flavors, while a Riesling from Alsace would be lighter and have a more mineral/citrus quality.

In Old World wines, certain grape varieties tend to be associated with particular areas. One could say with a reasonable degree of certainty that a wine made from Pinot Noir grapes is likely to come from Burgundy. This is now increasingly the case in the New World as well.

Again there is no right or wrong conclusion when tasting any individual wine. Describe it in the way you can identify with as tasting is meant to encourage you to create your own frame of reference for the wines you drink. Learn about the tastes that you enjoy - and those you don't - then follow the instincts that you have developed when it comes to buying wine in a restaurant or for drinking at home. Remeber these are only intended as a guide to wine, if you cant taste that "chocolate" or see the "legs" it doesn't matter - enjoying your wine does!

Guide to Wine Storage:

How to Store WineCool And Dark
Wine should be kept in a cool, dark place: the ideal temperature is about 10 degrees centigrade. Though cool, it must be frost free (avoid unheated garages for this reason). Humidity is important to keep the seal of corks –and thus the wine – in good condition. Bear in mind that different varieties and colours of wine could need to be store at different temperatures

Avoid Long Refrigeration in Standard Fridge
Keeping white wine in the fridge for weeks on end can deaden the flavor when you do come to drink it. A specialised wine fridge will help solve this problem as you can set incremential levels of temperature allowing both red and white to be stored together.

Store Wine The Correct Way Up
Always store table wine lying on its side to ensure that the corks don't dry out. Champagne and other sparklers can be stored upright – the layer of carbon dioxide in the neck of the bottle will protect the wine from contact with the air.

Prevent Damp
To prevent damp damaging labels on bottles, try sealing them with a blast of unscented hair spray. Or use a dehumidifyer in your cellar or storage space.

Which wine with which dish?

The answer to this can be as simple or as complicated as you would like it to be. But you will not go far wrong with the rough wine guide that white wine goes well with light meats (fish, chicken and seafood) as well as salads and vegetables. Whereas red wine goes better with stronger flavors such as red meat, game and curry.

Bookmark and Share