Sunday, 28 May 2017

Can you choose a good bottle of wine by the label?

I like wine, not as much as some people, but I enjoy drinking a glass or two. I’m not going to claim I’m a connoisseur and I honestly couldn’t tell you which region a wine is from by taste, but I know what I like when I taste it. To choose a bottle of wine I tend to look at 3 things: the label, the price, and if it has won any awards. Is this a good way to choose a wine? I was invited by Co-op to try their pick of wines for Spring/ Summer so I thought it was a great opportunity to choose the bottles I would be most likely to buy and put my wine selection skills to the test.

A co-op tasting guide and wine glass in the foreground and 2 lines of wine bottles in the background

How do I choose a bottle of wine?


Type of wine

Before heading to the supermarket I will normally know whether I want red, white, rose or bubbles. This cuts the selection down a bit. Choice of wine depends on when I want to drink it: red or white is normally with food, bubbles for more of a celebration. 
While traditionally red wine is seen as pairing with red meats and white with chicken or fish a talk by Coop at the beginning showed that this isn’t always the case. We were invited to try a few of their wines firstly without food, and then after tasting a matched food item. It was interesting how the wine tastes differently after food. The bottle will normally tell you which food a particular wine goes well with so it’s worth checking the label before making your final selection if you have a menu in mind.

A champagne cork, a glass and wine bottles in the background

The Label

I’m a visual person so I like to choose wine with pretty labels. I’m sure this would make a sommelier cringe, but let’s be honest when faced with a wall of wine you need something to help you make a selection. 
One of the other things I look for on a label is the words “Fairtrade”. Obviously this is only relevant if you are choosing wine from certain countries; you aren’t going to get a French Fairtrade wine for instance, but if the wine is from South Africa or South America it’s definitely worth having a look for. Co-op had 4 of their Fairtrade wines to try at their tasting and I was impressed to hear what the wines had achieved. Customers buying the wines from La Riojana in Argentina since 2006 have funded a water project which provides the community with a regular and reliable supply of clean drinking water. They also funded two thirds of a secondary school in an area which previously only had education up to the age of 14. Purchases of wine from the Bosman Family Vineyards in South Africa have helped support social projects including a preschool, school bus and computer training facilities. Even if the wine isn't to your taste (I liked all the Fairtrade wine I tried) buying Fairtrade helps benefit a community.

A  selection of 3 Fairtrade wines from Coop including a bottle of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon


The Price

There are two aspects I look at when it comes to price: the normal price and discounts. I have tried wine which costs a few hundred pounds and it was wasted on me so I generally choose a bottle which costs between £5 and £10 (unless it’s bubbly). I will be swayed by wines which normally cost more than £10 and are on offer because I feel like a more expensive wine *should* be a nice wine.

Award winners

There are numerous awards a wine can win and I haven’t got a clue how they are entered or judged, but I’m assuming it’s by people who know their wines better than I do. If there is a rosette or shiny sticker telling me a wine has won something it’s more likely to end up in my basket.

A close up of a sticker on a bottle saying "Medaille D'Or Paris 2012"

So how did my selection technique work in practice?


Co-op has a huge range of wine (although the selection available varies depending on the store) and at the wine tasting event they brought along 69 of the wines they wanted to showcase for Summer. I looked at the bottles and decided which ones I would have been most likely to choose from the label alone, then I drank them.

5 wines I really liked


A close up of the label of Co-op irresistible Viognier 2016

Co-op Irresistible Viognier 2016 £7.49
A French white wine from Languedoc region made from Viognier grapes.

A close up of co-op irresistible Barbera D'Asti

Co-op Irresistible Barbera D’Asti 2014 £6.99
An Italian red wine from the Piedmont region made from Barbera grapes.

A close up of KVW Cinsaut red wine

KVW Cinsaut 2016 £7.99
A South African red from the Western Cape region made with 100% Cinsaut grapes.

A close up of Explorers Sauvignon Blanc white wine this a person in a canoe and mountains in the background

Explorers Sauvignon Blanc 2016  £7.49
A white wine from Marlborough in New Zealand made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

A close up of a metallic label saying The Black Shiraz from Berton Vineyards

Berton Vineyards The Black Shiraz 2016 £7.99
A red wine from South East Australia made from 90% Shiraz and 10% Durif grapes.

And 2 wines I didn't really enjoy


A close up of a mint green, white and gold label for Grenache Blanc

KWV Grenache Blanc 2016 £7.99
A South African white wine made from Grenache Blanc grapes. I am more fussy about white wines than reds and while I think the label is great this wine is not for me.

A close up of Saumur wine bottle which has a finger print tree on the label

Domaine Des Ormes Saumur Rouge  2014 £7.49
A french red wine from the Loire Valley made from Cabernet Franc grapes. This wine had a smoky taste (like an Isla whisky) and I didn't like it. The interesting taste will appeal to some people. 

The Verdict? 


Choosing wine by the label isn’t a guaranteed way to get a great bottle of wine, but if you are buying from a shop which carefully selects their wine there is a good chance you will pick one you like.

***Disclosure: Co-op invited me to attend their Spring wine tasting. I didn't try all 69 wines, because even with the spittoons (for you to spit the wine out into) that would have been crazy.***
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18 comments

  1. Sounds like fun! We don't have wines in supermarkets, unfortunately, and I'm too lazy to go to the liquor store to pick some up, but when I do I always ask for help. I want something sweet or so and I don't have any clue about wines :D

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    1. I think asking for help from someone who knows wine is always a good idea

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  2. What a great sounding event! I'm guilty of choosing wine by the label too...and definately guilty of grabbing wine that's on a good offer as I feel like I'm getting a bargain! #TriedTested

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone. The wine tasting was great.

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  3. That sounds like an amazing event, right up my street! I don't know much about wines but I do like a glass or so every now and then. I definitely usually go by the label. I usually opt for a white Italian wine and don't tend to go wrong.

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    1. It's good to know what you like, at least it should be a safe bet!

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  4. To be honest I'd probably be more likely to choose based on the label as well! This sounds like such a fun event though. It's something I'd like to know more about although I like rosé and there's not quite as much variety!

    Ada

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    1. It sounds like vineyards should put more effort into their labels!

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  5. I have no clue on wine so this was an interesting read. I do prefer just a standard rose and I know what I like so I tend to go for the same stuff...hardly adventurous!
    http://www.onesliceoflemon.com

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  6. Great opportunity to try something new. I go on alcohol content and choose the strongest! :)

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    1. Ha ha, I think wine tastings are a great way to find new wines.

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  7. I love this, I don't drink, so always choose wine by the shape of the bottle or how pretty the label is:-)

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    1. Oooo yes I do love a pretty bottle. And after all an opened bottle of wine doesn't last long so it may as well look pretty on someone's shelf while it's waiting to be drunk.

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  8. Ha ha I love your disclosure! I'm not sure I'd have coped with all 69 either!! 😂

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    1. I think I managed about 30 in total, that was quite enough!

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  9. I always choose by the price and the label. Going on labels, I would totally pick the first bottle. Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

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  10. I've always found choosing wine really tricky - I know nothing about it so all I can really go on is the price and label!
    Thanks for sharing your review on #TriedTested this week x

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