• Shop at a wine store where advice is readily available. Helpful, knowledgeable sales staff combined with shelf-talkers to give guidance are good starting points. Some shops will also let you taste certain wines for free; others encourage you to buy a selection of sample glasses of fine wines for a modest price.
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• Supermarkets have some good selections and deals on mixed cases and half-cases, which are a good way to find favourites. Online wine companies and societies can offer a good choice for a regular commitment or modest joining fee.
• Look beyond sexy labels on the front of the bottle. Instead, focus on the words on the back to identify what you might like: dry, crisp, acidic, fruity, sweet, light, well-rounded, full-bodied, oaky and so forth.
• It’s an idea to be wary of wines described as ‘table wine’ as these are cheaper blends. They may be good but there is a risk that they will lack depth of flavour, or that they are unbalanced in composition.
• For complementary wine and food pairings, light wines tend to pair well with lighter foods like chicken and fish, while full-bodied wines go with richer foods such as red meat and strong cheeses. Contrasting flavours can match, too – check bottle labels for pairing guidance. Spicy foods work well with a crisp, acidic, white wine with a medium to low alcohol content.
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