Truth: Wine can be intimidating. If you’ve ever found yourself staring at rows upon rows of it (whether in a store or online), you’ll know the feeling of not knowing where to even begin. Your instinct may be to play the wine equivalent of Russian roulette by grabbing something cheap or with an attractive label (we’ve all been there) – but it can have unpleasant consequences.
“There are actually ways of making sure that the wine you drink is good even before you open the bottle,” says Chie Gatchalian. A wine educator and sommelier, Gatchalian also acts as Quality and Wine Education Manager at Winery.ph, which claims to be the country’s largest online wine marketplace with thousands of bottles available for purchase – making her an expert at telling good vino and bad apart.
Selecting a good wine, however, doesn’t need expert qualifications – in fact, it can be surprisingly simple. Here are Gatchalian’s tips for choosing your next bottle:
Tip #1: Know who and what you’re buying for
“Buying wine for others and buying wine for yourself are two very different things,” says Gatchalian. “If you know the occasion or the person you’re buying for, it makes it easier to narrow down your choices when faced with thousands of options.”
If you’re headed to a party, a sparkling wine will likely be a hit – and to narrow down further, you can think of what kind of food you’re having or even the preferences of who else is attending. A varied menu at dinner, for example, would call for a versatile wine. In this case, a sparkling rosé like the Printhie Swift Rosé would be a great choice, being light enough to go with seafood and poultry while still having enough heft to take on pork and fried food.
Tip #2: Have a budget in mind
It saves a lot of confusion to simply know how much you’re willing to spend on your bottle. “I always make sure I know what my ‘ceiling’ is when I buy wine,” adds Gatchalian. “This way, I don’t get swayed by ‘sales.’ When you know how much you’re willing to spend, you can narrow down your search to what fits your budget.”
Thousands of bottles of wine exist, spanning anywhere from P300 to P3,000 (and sometimes even higher), and gems exist at all price ranges. This is especially true for popular varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A bottle of VITO Italia Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, would only set you back a few hundred pesos – and it makes for easy drinking after a long day. If you’re willing to spend more on something special, the Baron Philippe de Rothschild Pays d’Oc Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice.
Tip #3: When in doubt, buy what you love
Choosing a bottle of wine is a lot easier when you already have an idea of what you like – and if you don’t, it pays to remember at least the grape varietal of bottles you’ve enjoyed. “If you know that you like Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, for example, it is easy for you to choose a bottle if your go-to bottle is not in stock,” explains Gatchalian.
If your usual bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc isn’t available, an alternative like the punchy, tropical Mayfly Sauvignon Blanc from the same country is a great alternative. But if you’d like to explore, you could also try exploring the same varietal, but from a different region – a Chilean take like the Escudo Rojo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc will have the same zing, but with a more citrusy flavor.
Tip #4: Avoid wines produced in “bulk”
While good wine doesn’t need to be expensive, you should be cautious buying wines that are too inexpensive. “Wine costs money to make and store, because not all wines can be bottled and released for selling right away,” explains Gatchalian. “If you are buying wine that is too cheap, there has to be a reason why it’s priced that way.”
As a rule of thumb, your safest bets for well-made wines that won’t hurt your wallet too much generally range between P800 to P1,200. A bottle of Piccini Memoro Rosso fits the bill in terms of price, and offers a blend of native Italian grapes that’s been known to convert white wine lovers to the world of reds. Chrismont Riesling, meanwhile, offers a uniquely Australian take on Riesling with its zesty and floral notes.
There are of course many wines under P800 that are exceptions to the rule – but this is a generally safe zone for if you’re looking for good wine of consistently good quality.
Tip #5: Buy where you can get guidance
Even after following these tips, you may buy that bottle of wine still wondering if you’re really making the right choice.
“Nothing is more intimidating than not knowing what you’re buying,” says Gatchalian. In these instances, it’s best to seek assistance from an expert – or if you’re shopping online, to find a website that gives you as much information as possible. “A website such as Winery.ph, where wine is categorized according to grape variety, region of origin, and even price is a great place to start. You actually can read tasting notes about every wine before you buy it – and sometimes, we have tasting videos there, too!”
These tips are a great place to start, but at the end of the day, choosing a good bottle of wine depends greatly on your own preference. That’s something that you discover by trying more bottles over time to find what it is you like and don’t like – this is the final measure of whether wine is good, after all.
All of the wines featured in this story will be part of the Winery.ph 11.11 Clearance Sale, going at discounts of up to 41% off. The sale runs for one day and one day only at the Winery.ph website on November 11, 2022. For more information, visit www.winery.ph and follow the brand on Facebook and Instagram.