Choosing a wine in a supermarket without having tasted is a difficult task even for professionals in the wine industry. Oenologists or sommeliers are sometimes present to guide you, but you will most often be delivered to yourself. You will be faced with hundreds of references with a lot of information on bottles, which will not necessarily help you for your choice. While it’s for a meal, an evening with friends or a dinner in head to head, here we will see some tips for choosing a wine in a supermarket:
1. The price
In general and I think everyone suspects, with a cheap bottle (less than 5 €), do not expect a great vintage. The wines are mostly classified by appellation. To choose your wine in the supermarket, do not hesitate to prefer wines of little known name to save money. But do not hesitate to pay more than € 5 a bottle if you want a minimum of quality. In fact, by doing this, you avoid putting a bottle on the table that can give you bad surprises. Ditto for expensive bottles, the price is not necessarily synonymous with quality. If you plan to put more than 20 euros in a bottle, do not hesitate to visit the cellar instead of choosing a wine in a supermarket. A counselor will guide you in your choices and bottles are not more expensive.
2. The label
Take the time to read the label. A beautiful bottle will surely attract your eye, but better to linger on the label and therefore focus on the content of it rather than being limited to his first impression. On the label, you will find the name of the bottle or if it is an IGP wine (refer to the article appellation). If a wine of appellation and a wine IGP are at the same price, do not hesitate to take the IGP. Indeed, if the price is the same, the IGP will surely present a superior quality. Some traders are specialized in the production of wine for large distributions. You can trust them because their name is a guarantee of quality. On the label you will also find some grape varieties and / or other interesting information.
Regarding the counter-tag: again the counter-tag provided a lot of information, which unfortunately are not all useful. For example the words “aged in oak barrels” or “bottling at the château” are not always a guarantee of quality. While mentions on the terroir or the know-how of the winegrower can direct you.
3. The grape variety
You will find this information very often on the counter label. This information will be more useful than you think! Indeed, the varietal used for the design of the wine changes its taste enormously. Take a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon, you will quickly realize that the taste is not at all similar. One is gentle on the other much more fleshy. Do not worry, knowing all the grape varieties and their flavors is useless. But trying to know the ones you prefer can be useful. To discover it, you just have to taste some wines. Do not hesitate to take a picture or write down those who really liked you. On the back labels or on the internet you will find the grape varieties used.
If you need some help with the red grapes that might please you, do not hesitate to take our quiz:
4 Selection of guides and medals
Some competitions deposit small macaroons on wines indicating that a panel of professionals have tasted this wine (often blind so recognized for their quality). More and more bottles in supermarkets expose their reward by this or that guide. Be careful, however, not to refer only to this when you choose your wine at the supermarket. There are more or less prestigious competitions; two very popular competitions are for example: the Concours Général Agricole de Paris and the Concours des Grands Vins de France of Mâcon.
5. Do not look for inspiration in the wine department of the supermarket
Looking for a bottle of wine is just like the race list. You must have in mind a price range, if possible the dish it will accompany … This will help you greatly to target wine by greatly reducing the choice available in stores. Finally, once at the store, it is obviously preferable to stick to the criteria decided upstream. If you happen to hesitate between several bottles within your criteria, refer to the counter label which will give you the necessary indications to choose it.
6. The appellations
Burgundy and Burgundy wines are mainly found in the shops, but do not hesitate to turn to other appellations. They too can be decorated with rewarding macaroons awarded by various competitions. Indeed, their presence in the department is not due to chance! In general, the further south, the more intense wines. For example Bourgognes or wines from the Loire Valley are considered light. While the Languedoc, Côtes-du-Rhône or the Médoc de Bordeaux are more powerful wines.
7. Concerning organic wines
For a long time many people avoided organic wine. Indeed, the unstable taste and the rather mediocre quality have built its first reputation. However, after a few years and especially the development of their elaborating techniques, we can now enjoy some good organic wines or very good. Do not eliminate the bio from the beginning. Not only can you have surprises, but you will also protect your health as well as nature because these products are made without pesticides or chemicals. If you are looking for the most eco-friendly wine possible in its design, look for the Demeter label. These wines are produced with the principles of biodynamics and therefore contain much less sulfur and other complementary products.
Wine is above all a simple pleasure, to discover. Grab each tasting opportunity! If you want to become a good wine lover, enjoy all the wines that you have the opportunity to taste. The more wine you taste, the more you’ll expand your horizons and know more about them. Be careful, having tasted a good wine does not mean to take it every time! But this will better guide you next time by choosing for example more a vintage than another.
9. The vintage
The collective thought is that an old wine is better with age, but this is valid for a wine well preserved in the cellar, which is not necessarily the case in the supermarket. We must not neglect the fact that a young wine is more fruity, fresh, greedy … while an older wine will be more technical and more complex. So again, depending on the occasion, the vintage will help you choose. Be careful, we can also rely on very good vintages! For example in Bordeaux, the years 2009 and 2010 are very good vintages! This is simply due to the good weather of those years.
To know the best vintages of the different vineyards I recommend the site Le Point
10. The alcohol level
This information is just complementary to choosing wine in supermarket. In general, if the wine is less than 12% alcohol, it will be lighter, more lively, with fresh and acidic aromas. If the wine exceeds 14%, it will have more structure, richness, opulence in the mouth and aromas often more mature.