Buying your wine in supermarkets, even if it is not very glamorous, is convenient for most consumers. But it's complicated. A few simple tips and recommendations to better choose a wine in supermarkets.
Admit it, you've already found yourself at least once in your life in front of the wine section of a supermarket and that's when the cold sweats started. Faced with the wine labels, each one more obscure than the other, you felt lost, humiliated, hurt! After a few minutes, tired, you ended up choosing a bottle totally at random. It's normal... But you are not condemned to eternal suffering! These few commandments can help you in this crossing of the desert.
Daring traveller in search of a "good" bottle of wine at the local supermarket, follow these tips to find your grail (finally, a nice wine to drink).
The 10 commandments of the quest for wine in supermarkets:
Too cheap, frankly, given the number of intermediaries, nobody gains, neither you in quality, nor the producer... If you want to spend a lot for a bottle, get advice, more expensive doesn't always mean better.
The vintage is the year of the grape harvest. It is mostly written roughly on the bottle. The more recent it is, and the younger the wine is, the more fruity, fresh, greedy... Obviously, some wines are made to improve with age, but in good conditions, in your cellar. So to avoid having a wine tired by bad conditions of conservation, take a vintage of less than 2 years for a white and less than 3 years for a red.
The postcode of the bottler / producer is always written on the label. That way, for example, you know in which region this intriguing Côtes de Thongue red wine belongs (Languedoc, it's hot, the grapes ripen well, it gives fruit and not too much acidity). Basically, if it's above the Loire, it's often cooler and lighter than below. As the Loire River originates in the Massif Central (latitude of Vienne approximately), there is a large cluster of vineyards above it.
At the same price, in the same region (in the broadest sense), take the lesser known appellation (Bergerac instead of Bordeaux, Saint Pourçain instead of Burgundy, etc...) at worst you will discover something. The underlying idea is that in the same regions, we find relatively similar climatic conditions and often identical grape varieties ...
If you like the taste of the wine in barrels, take a bottle with the length of stay specified on it, tell you that the longer it is, the more it marks the wine. If you don't like it, you can rest the bottle. If you don't know, take a ramekin, you'll get an idea.
If you hesitate between two bottles from the same region, take the gold medal of the general agricultural competition (blind, 5 or 6 wine lovers found it good, compared to 20 others). There are other valid competitions (Vinalies, Independent Winegrowers...), but the CGA makes a lot of effort to improve its selection rules, and this is the most widespread.
If you like originality, take the Demeter label, it indicates that the wine has been produced according to the principles of biodynamics, it won't harm the environment. In addition, the maximum doses of sulphur (sulphites) are lower, it can't hurt you either. The simple organic label covers far too many practices to be of any use in your choice.
On the collar of the neck, look for the pictogram of a small man with a barrel on his shoulder. If so, it's a winemaker.ne (inclusive writing inside), who does everything or almost everything himself (most often a family business). The wine will not necessarily be better, but will at least have a more personal touch. And if, on top of that, it has a medal from the independent winegrowers, well, you don't hesitate.
This is not the most important information, but an indication of style. If the wine has less than 12% alcohol, it will generally be lighter, more lively, with fresh and acidulous aromas. If the wine exceeds 14% it will have more structure, richness, opulence on the palate and aromas that are often more ripe.
Always try to take a picture of the label, especially the ugly part with the legal notices. This will help you remember the bottle and make it easier to choose for your next purchase. You then do a little research on the Net (on Les Grappes for example ???? ) and you call the producer to buy a case of 12. If you don't find it, you go to the local wine shop (a little courage), and you tell him that you liked this wine and you suggest that he look at the photo on the label. You then ask him to recommend a bottle of the same kind from behind his bundles. It will not be more expensive than at the supermarket.
As for the rest, when you don't know much about it, well it's useless! I'm not sure what to do: hand-picked grapes, old vines, recommended by the oenologist/sommelier/blogger (including the women's version) Tartempion, the funny colours, the mention "great wine", the bronze medals, the mention "bottled at the château" (or at the bottom of the truck), advice on food and wine pairing and taste descriptors that often fall short of the mark, or the thickness of the bottle and the nature of the clay-limestone soils... and so on!
Maybe you have other tips and tricks to share, don't hesitate to comment!
Jules Lamon for Les Grappes