In a world of wines, how do you know which one is any good?
You have a hot date. You want her to think you’re a smart, sophisticated man. You want her to know you have refined tastes. You want to take her out to a nice dinner, maybe order a good bottle of wine.
Beautiful date, check. Dinner reservations, check.
Wine selection? Oh no.
Now you’re nervous. What do you say when the waiter asks what you want with your steak?
“Wine can be intimidating,” says Kerwin Legarde. That’s not very encouraging, especially when you meet him at the World of Wine Festival, where Rustan’s gathered winemakers from around the world. Still, as Vice President at Rustan’s Supercenters Inc., he has some recommendations. “After all, we do fairs like this to educate those who want to learn about wine.”
First, a practical consideration. Legarde asks, what’s your budget? You can get pretty good wines for a reasonable cost, but think about how much you’re willing to spend.
Next, maybe there’s a country or region she’s always wanted to visit. Maybe that vineyard just has a cool name. “Well, France is usually the most popular,” Legarde says. “But actually, what people buy from us are usually the ones from Australia, then France, then the US.” If you’re feeling the Old World, you can try something from Europe, or you can take the South American route via Argentina or Chile.
Here’s a crucial question: red or white? “You know, in a tropical country you would think white wine would be preferable, but a lot of people actually like red.”
Still can’t decide? Pretty much every winemaker and seller will say that the local palate leans towards sweet wines, so you might want to go for a Moscato, a sweet Italian dessert wine. “But this is the easy solution,” scoffs David Brissonaud, wine importation manager for Rustan’s. His suggestions? The French wines, of course. “You might want to go for a Merlot. It’s smoother, it has a lighter body. Cabernet sauvignon is a bit bolder, and it’s aged in oak barrels, like whisky. That’s what gives it a smoky flavor. Some people find it aggressive.”
The Italian won’t back down without a fight, though. Mattia Mauri, who distributes wines from different wineries around Australia, suggests, “You can do a wine-tasting. You can start with white, then red, then finish with a sweet wine. The white, you start with this because it’s refreshing. It’s nice with some fish or some white meat. It’s easy. Then, maybe you are having pizza or pasta, you can have this with a Merlot.” He pauses. “But really, when you taste the wine, you should just close your eyes. Don’t think about the price, or where it is from. The best wine? It’s the one you like.”
In the end, Brissonaud agrees, “Drink what you like.” Order a rosé. Or a zinfandel. It might not sound very fancy, but she might actually like it. And you might get a second date.