Buy Wines Online

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Many times, when shopping for wines online, you'll be given no more information than a pretty picture of the label. So that you're not reduced to making a decision based on the cuteness of the illustration, it's necessary to learn at least the basics of reading wine labels. If you understand the essential characteristics of the most popular grapes, and which wines use which grapes, then you'll be better able to make informed decisions.

Understanding American and Australian wine labels is a pretty straightforward business. They feature the grape variety clearly on the label. A Merlot is made from the juice of a Merlot grape, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, a Pinot Noir from Pinot Noir grapes, and so on.

However, in Europe, wines are named for the regions in which they're made. These regions have very strict regulations about which grapes may be planted in these areas, based on hundreds of years of growing success. Not all grapes thrive in certain environments. In order to maintain quality, European regulatory commissions dictate which areas may grow which grapes. Because these rules have been in effect for hundreds of years, it's considered a given that wine appreciators know that the region of Chablis plants only Chardonnay grapes, or that all red Burgundies are made from Pinot Noir grapes.

If It's Monday, It Must Be Merlot

The best way to get a grasp of all wines is to first become familiar with the characteristics of the most popular grapes used the world over. A short list would include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc (same grape), Semillon, Syrah/Shiraz (same grape), Tempranillo, and Zinfandel. Once you've got a grasp of the characters and essential flavors of these grapes, you've got a working knowledge of most of the wines the world over.

If you're genuinely interested in learning about wines, then it's recommended to buy at least one wine a week, and really pay attention to its characteristics. Write your impressions down, and compare a US version with an Italian, and the next week, try an Australian version against the one you liked best the previous week. After you're confident you've got one under your belt, move on to the next grape, and see how it differs in quality from the first. Learning about wines in this way is fun, a delightful addition to meals, and a unique way to expand one's knowledge. Finding an online wine source you trust to supply you with quality options is a smart way to secure that you're tasting the best options available for every grape, and gives you further ability to make future informed purchases.

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