As Nairobi’s wine drinkers expand their tastes for all things wine, good wine shops are slowly responding to the increasingly sophisticated customer demands. Supermarkets too are upping their game, offering clients something more in the way of choice when it comes to the wines they stock. But with so many different wines to choose from, how on earth does one pick the right bottle for the right occasion?
With the staggering range of wines currently available in Kenya, Victoria Mulu-Munywoki suggests experimenting with different types and styles until you identify a favorite go-to wine. Happy sipping!
Follow these easy and practical tips to pick the perfect wine at your local supermarket:
- FEEL THE LABEL
Run the back of your hand over the label. If the paper feels cheap, you can bet that the producers cut corners in other areas too and what you’re getting is probably a low-grade bottle of wine.
- PICK A DEEP PUNT
Look at the indent at the base of the bottle, otherwise known as the punt. Generally, the deeper the punt, the better the quality of the wine and the longer it can be stored. Most wines at a supermarket have a flatter base and should be enjoyed sooner rather than later.
- HAVE A BUDGET
Price doesn’t always equal quality, as you may know if you’ve ever done blind tastings. A bottle may just be expensive due to the startup cost for the winery. Wines from traditional regions are often also pricier than equally good ones from lesser known areas. Have a budget in mind and stick to it!
- BOXED WINE
If you want to drink the good stuff, steer clear of anything that doesn’t come in a bottle. Leave those for parties!
- GO DIGITAL
There are some great apps with online wine communities that can help you out should you ever need it. Vivino, for instance, allows you to scan the label of a bottle and ranks it based on user reviews.
- AGE IS A NUMBER
Try to get bottles that don’t look like they’ve been sitting around on the shelves for the last three years. As a rule of thumb best aim for a more recent vintage as this means it’s had less time go off in the bottle. Supermarkets will try to put the older ones in the front, so make sure you check if there’s a more recent vintage at the back.
Determine how much money you are willing to spend before you go in. That will make your life so much easier and you’ll end up spending less time debating over a few bottles. It is also important to note that not only expensive wine is good.
Do you prefer still or sparkling? White, rose or red? Sweet or dry? Full or lightbodied? The tasting notes on the back label should help you make the right choice within these various styles. Food pairing: Think about what you would like to eat. Red meat generally goes well with red wine, and white meat with white wine. Spicy food goes well with semi sweet styles of wine.
Understand the occasion you are buying the wine for. Is it for cooking? A party? Romantic dinner for two? For cooking, boxed wine like Penasol can do the trick. If you are looking for a gift to impress someone, Victoria suggests a bottled wine with the grape varietal on the label. There are plenty of choices for parties, with crowd pleasers being Merlot, Shiraz and Malbec for reds, and Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc for whites. These make a great selection for weddings too. If you are expecting a big crowd, a cask wine made in an easy-to-drink style makes sense as it can please a wide range of palates.