What Kind of Wine Do You Like?

200-wineBy Amy Gross –

Does this question fill you with trepidation and fear when asked by the sommelier, or does it make your heart leap in joy for the possibilities?

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but believe me, I know that question can lead to a lot of anxiety. Fortunately, though, when you are asked that by your sommelier at a restaurant, he is really trying to help you make a selection you will find delicious, not make you feel clueless and lost. Sommeliers  are world class, educated professionals and want to guide you to finding the perfect bottle for your meal. But, they need a little help from you to make that happen. So, how do you answer that question of what wine you like when you really aren’t sure? I have a few ideas for you.

Start with red versus white or pink.

Do you gravitate to one of those colors or the other? Or, are you more driven by food choices or mood? I know that I like wines of all color, sometimes depending on my mood and sometimes depending on the food I am eating. Some of my friends, though, only prefer red or white. What about you?

Consider grape variety.

If you lean toward white wines, some of the most popular grape varieties are Chardonnay, which can be buttery and oaky or crisp, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, which can be anything from super sweet to very dry, and Moscato.

For reds, more popular grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, which can go from juicy and fruity to earthy, and Merlot.

You might like a particular country or region. 

For example, a California Chardonnay is likely going to be more round and buttery than a French Chardonnay from Chablis, which will tend to be more crisp and clean tasting. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will have a more grassy, green flavor than a California, Chilean or French Sauvignon Blanc.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember all of these details every time, but the more you know, the more the sommeleier can help you. Knowing those things can really help you find the best bottle of wine for you on any list. One way to keep track of your pre-ferences is to use the notes section on your smartphone, or better yet, download my free iPhone app, Wine4.Me, and tell it what you like as you try new wines.

Keeping track of grape type, country and region and sharing this with your sommelier might sound like a lot of work, but you’ll soon see what you gravitate toward. Once you find a variety or two you like, try that grape from a few different regions to see what you prefer the most.

When you share this information with your sommelier at your next meal, let him or her know if you want to stick with what you know or whether you are up for a bit of adventure. Houston’s best sommeliers can always suggest safe choices that are much like what is familiar to you, or they can help you jump off and try something new without going too far from your favorite flavors.

So, what kind of wine do you like?