How to pick the right wine for any occasion

Knowing which wine is the right wine is undoubtedly something that takes practice. Pick the wrong bottle on a date, and you’re doomed. Take the wrong one to her father, and you’ll never be invited back again. So, after receiving questions on the matter from a host of gentlemen out there, we decided to put some of the most pressing questions on the subject to renowned wine expert, and founder of Garmence Wine Studio, Charlotte Calvet.

Is there such a thing as good wine that won’t break the bank?

“Yes it does exist, but it’s hard to find. The reason for this is down to the UK adding £2 tax to every bottle of wine sold, whatever the price, meaning it’s even harder to distinguish what’s a genuinely good wine from wine that’s simply on offer.

Do you have an tips for choosing wine in a restaurant? 

“There’s no shame in a gentleman asking for help. Speak to the waiter and get their advice – let them know your budget, tastes and if there’s anything you’ve had before that you particularly liked. This can easily be done before your date arrives but if they’re early, try to sneak off so you can grab two minutes with someone who knows more about wine than you do, leaving you to take all the glory.”

What should I be looking for when I’m asked to taste the wine?

“The first thing you need to think about is, do you like it? If not, it’s perfectly OK to send the wine back. The second step is to really get involved with the smell. Does it smell off or a bit funky? If so, then it’s corked and should definitely be sent back. Just trust yourself or if you don’t want to look awkward or aren’t 100% sure, ask the waiter for their opinion. Chances are they’ll agree with you.”

Most important rules to follow in wine choice?

“Never choose the second cheapest wine on the menu. It’s usually the same quality as the cheapest one but with a higher mark up. Restaurants know that you don’t want to look cheap so watch out for that trick.”

Three good wines to take to your partner’s parents?

“Take a wine with a story to tell, it’s always a good conversation starter. My top three go-tos:

1: Rhone wines: very good value for money and a crowd pleaser

2: Champagne or Prosecco – because your mother-in-law will love you even more than she already does

3: A white wine from Italy, but try to branch away from a Pinot Grigio. It’s so predictable and not the best quality wine out there.”

Garmence Wine Studio - Banquet

Best reds to have with steak?

“A bold red with just the right amount of tannins (that stringent feeling in your mouth) will seriously compliment your steak. Chianti, Bordeaux, Rhones and Rioja are all incredible.”

A good ‘go-to’ when she wants something… 

…Dry? “Loire white wines like Pouilly Fume

…Light? “A Red wine called Fleurie from Beaujolais, which is a light fruity red or anything 100% merlot from France”

How do you decipher a wine’s label?

“It depends on the country, as each region and country have different rules and deciphering them can become very complicated, especially when you’re standing in a supermarket aisle with hundreds of bottles to choose from. A good trick is to check the back label which will have some additional information to help you crack what you’re actually looking at: the wine profile, origin, tasting notes, food pairings etc. Otherwise try out some wine apps which can be used as a pocket guide.” 

If I want to try a new wine, how do I tackle the endless list of choice?

“You come to – that’s what we’re here for! Or you can ask friends for recommendations, read a blog, articles or just simply be adventurous.”

The fail safe wines for a gentleman to pick on a first date?

“First, it’s always better to go with the wine origin of the restaurant, so if you’re dining in a Spanish restaurant, go for a wine from a Spanish region:

Chianti Classico or Rioja for meat

French whites from Macon or Burgundy for fish and anything vegetarian

For sweet wines, Riesling is a safe bet to compliment Spicy food”

Best piece of advice for the wine novice?

“Trust your taste. You know a bad coffee from your good one, and it’s the same with wine. If you don’t want to be adventurous, find something you like and stick to it. And if you want to step out of your comfort zone, use your personal preferences and previous experiences to determine what you like and don’t like simply by assessing if it’s too heavy, too bold, too light, too acidic etc.”

One bottle every gentleman should try in his lifetime?

“A Barolo from Italy.”

Why should gentlemen use the online Garmence Wine Studio site?

“It’s simple… what if you found your very own winemaker who curated a personal collection of wine for you each season, crafted from the best European vineyards and would deliver them to your door? Wouldn’t that make your life so much easier? Well, that’s what Garmence Wine Studio, along with a talented team of wine experts and producers, is offering you. We bring you a seasonal selection (Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer) of great wines from across Europe, available exclusively online with the best delivery service in town. We’ve eliminated the fuss, head scratching, endless choices and unreadable labels with questionable qualities. We’ve done the hard work for you and simplified everything, leaving you with an easy and enjoyable online experience. Our collection of handpicked wines are reasonably priced with exceptional quality and taste so it’s easy to wow your date with dinner (cooked or delivered) and know you have a perfectly paired wine. Easy!”

Garmence was founded on the basis that blending beautiful wines is very similar to that of perfume houses, fashion studios and design portfolios; united by the arts. Having this concept in mind, it was then that Charlotte saw a gap in the market and after two years of hard work and the support of a small team, Garmence Wine Studio was born. Believing in fewer and better wines, centred on taste and quality, Charlotte’s philosophy is to remove the fuss in buying wine and simply follow your tastes – you don’t need to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy fine wine.

Join Charlotte Calvet for an immersive wine tasting experience next Wednesday 29th June at The Hoxton hotel. Sign up here.  

Visit Garmence Wine Studio

(Featured image: Warner Bros)

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